Libertarian Vote in New Hampshire Could Swing Electoral College to Obama

Cortney O'Brien

10/22/2012 2:01:00 PM - Cortney O'Brien
Mitt Romney is now neck and neck with Obama in New Hampshire, a stunning feat considering the former governor was trailing the president by 15 points at the end of September. But some independent voters who say they would vote for Romney if just he and Obama were on the ballot, are instead voting for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. These swing voters are giving the president a potential advantage in November.

A Suffolk University Political Research Center poll released Monday shows Romney and Obama tied with 47 percent of the vote each in New Hampshire.

The Suffolk University survey showed Romney with a small lead on handling the economy, 45 percent to 42 percent, but Obama had the edge on foreign policy, 46-42.

In the same poll, six percent of New Hampshire voters said they remain undecided or plan to vote for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson. By almost 4-to-1, members of this small group said, if Romney and Obama were the only two candidates on the ballot, they would vote for Romney over the president. If these independents were included in the poll, Romney would lead Obama, 50 percent to 48 percent. Johnson is polling seven percent in the state.

David Paleologos, director of the Boston-based Suffolk polling agency, commented on the interesting statistic. “Politics is full of ironies,” he said. “Gary Johnson voters are predisposed to voting against the incumbent president, but Johnson’s presence on the New Hampshire presidential ballot is actually helping Obama. Those anti-incumbent voters -- at least right now -- aren’t finding their way to Mitt Romney.”