The Libertarian Party’s presidential nominating convention this weekend is seeing an unprecedented amount of media interest, as polls show Americans are increasingly curious about third-party presidential options.
Normally entirely ignored by most mainstream news outlets, about 250 individual reporters have requested credentials for the Libertarian Party national convention, which is being held at the Rosen Center Hotel in Orlando this weekend.
That’s compared with just 10 to 20 reporters that covered the party’s 2012 event, a party official estimated.
“When I came in 2008, a few outlets showed up for the vote itself — but that was it,” recalled one reporter who covered the 2008 party convention.
Delegates at the Libertarian convention will select the party’s standard-bearer for the fall election. Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson is considered the front-runner — though veterans of the process say that the conventions can be unpredictable. The Libertarian Party is expected to officially choose a nominee on Sunday.
Mr. Johnson has also tapped former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld as his potential running mate. He faces a stiff challenge from consultant and activist Austin Petersen, who is running on an anti-abortion platform. John McAfee, a tech entrepreneur, has also declared his interest in the race.
But Messrs. Johnson and Weld would form the most experienced ticket in the party’s 44-year history, and polls show there is some appetite among Americans for options beyond presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Ms. Clinton is on a path to clinch the Democratic nomination by June 7.
Two national polls this month show Mr. Johnson drawing 10% of the vote. In addition, the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll finds that 47% of Americans would consider a generic third-party nominee, up from previous years in WSJ/NBC News polling. In 2012, 40% said they would consider a third-party candidate; in 2008, 38% did.
Though a third-party bid has never been successful in American history, they have often played the role of spoiler in a number of elections throughout history.