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Three Reasons Johnson Could Affect General Election Three Reasons Johnson Could Affect General Election

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Three Reasons Johnson Could Affect General Election

Republican presidential candidate former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson addresses the 2011 Drug Policy Alliance conference Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011, in Los Angeles, a four-day conference that seeks reform of the nation's drug policies. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)  (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

December 21, 2011
Gary Johnson's decision to drop out of the Republican presidential race to run as a libertarian instead, first reported by Politico, doesn't change the primary's complexion -- the ex-New Mexico governor was a non-factor in the polls and participated in only to only two debates. 
But under the right circumstances, his appearance on the general election ballot could affect that race, and possibly boost President Obama's chances by siphoning fiscal conservatives from the Republican nominee. Here are three ways his candidacy could make an impact:  
  • SuperPAC Money: Most analysts assume a third-party candidate has to have vast personal wealth to fund his or her campaign, like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The candidates just won't have the fundraising apparatus to compete with the Republican and Democratic nominees otherwise. But new rules, ushered in after the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling last year, allow the candidate's supporters to set up their own fundraising committee that can raise money in uncapped contributions, groups called SuperPACs.

    Even if they can't coordinate with the candidate himself, their availability changes the fundraising calculus: In theory, even one wealthy donor could supply a SuperPAC with a multi-million dollar warchest to blanket the TV airwaves with ads supporting Johnson. Of course, finding one or a multiple group of donors to fund such an expensive effort, one that still would have the smallest of chances at winning the presidency, isn't easy. But if the former governor does, his candidacy will get a badly needed platform to stand on. 
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