Libertarian Party presidential primaries, 2016

Libertarian Party presidential primaries, 2016
United States
March 1 – June 7, 2016

Preferential poll
Candidate Gary Johnson John McAfee
Home state New Mexico Tennessee
Contests won 5 0
Popular vote 22,642 3,391
Percentage 59.6% 8.9%

Candidate Uncommitted Austin Petersen
Home state n/a Missouri
Contests won 1 0
Popular vote 3,209 3,066
Percentage 8.4% 8.1%

First place by first-instance vote

  Gary Johnson (5)
  Uncommitted (1)

  No contest (45)

First place finishes by convention roll call

  Gary Johnson (36)
  Austin Petersen (8)
  No vote (1)

  John McAfee (3)
  Tie (4)

The 2016 Libertarian Party presidential primaries and caucuses allowed electors to indicate non-binding preferences for the Libertarian Party's presidential candidate. These differed from the Republican or Democratic presidential primaries and caucuses in that they did not appoint delegates to represent a candidate at the party's convention to select the party's nominee for the United States presidential election. The party's nominee for the 2016 presidential election was chosen directly by registered delegates at the 2016 Libertarian National Convention, which ran from May 26 to 30, 2016. The delegates nominated former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld.[1]

Four primaries and one caucus were held. Missouri and North Carolina held primaries on March 15, as an alternative ballot to other primaries such as those of the Republicans and Democrats. Gary Johnson, who had won the party's nomination in the 2012 presidential election, won North Carolina with 42%, while in Missouri a plurality of uncommitted voters led local candidate Austin Petersen 40% to 29%. An Oregon primary was run on May 27 during the national convention, while the California primary was held on June 7 after the party's convention. The only caucus was in Minnesota on March 1, where 75% of the electors selected Gary Johnson.


24 candidates were recognized by the Libertarian Party and 16 were ultimately eligible for the presidential nomination at the 2016 Libertarian National Convention.[2][3][4][5] For a candidate to have been recognized by the Libertarian Party, they must have:

  1. had a campaign website;
  2. been a dues-paying member of the party;
  3. met all U.S. Constitutional requirements to serve as President; and
  4. not have simultaneously been a candidate for another political party.[6]

Of the recognized candidates, eight did not run in any primary or caucus: Joey Berry, Brian Briggs, Thomas Clements, Malisia Garcia, Kevin McCormick, Robert Milnes, Mike Shannon and Heidi Zeman. The other ten recognized candidates as well as three unrecognized candidates – John David Hale (who was disrecognized because he was under 35 and so ineligible to serve as President), Nathan Norman and Merry Susan Nehls – stood in at least one primary or caucus, and appear in the table below. Five recognized candidates withdrew: Cecil Ince, Steve Kerbel, Joy Waymire, Bart Lower and Donald Eugene Lowe.[6][7][8][9][10]

Candidate Profession Campaign On primary or caucus ballot Popular vote

Gary Johnson
Governor of New Mexico


Running mate: William Weld[12]

John McAfee
Founder and CEO of McAfee, Inc.

Running mate: Judd Weiss[13]

Austin Petersen
Owner and founder of The Libertarian Republic


Rhett Smith
Private security officer (website) 1,678

Marc Allan
Anesthesiologist at the Cleveland Clinic


John David Hale
Student 1,199

Joy Waymire
Ranch foreman (website)
Withdrew: April 13, 2016[16]

(endorsed John McAfee)[17]


Steve Kerbel
Businessman and entrepreneur
Withdrew: March 16, 2016
(endorsed Gary Johnson)[18]

Jack Robinson, Jr.
Businessman and inventor (website) 808

Darryl Perry
Owner and Managing Editor of
Free Press Publications

Running mate: Will Coley[19]

Cecil Ince
Owner of Ince Films
Withdrew: March 17, 2016[20]

Derrick Michael Reid
Political analyst and retired engineer (website) 543

Merry Susan Nehls

Keenan Dunham
(Website) 18

Nathan Norman

Shawna Joy Sterling
Non-fee Pastoral Counselor
Alternate ballot options:
No preference/
None of the above/
N/A 3,209

Timeline of the race


The 2016 United States presidential election will be the twelfth to be contested by the Libertarian Party of the United States. The 2004 presidential election saw Libertarian nominee Michael Badnarik appear on ballots in 48 states plus the District of Columbia. He received 0.3% of the popular vote, and came fourth behind the two major parties' nominees as well as third-placed independent Ralph Nader.[21] In the 2008 election, Bob Barr was nominated as the Libertarian Parties's candidate for the presidency and had ballot access to 45. However, Barr insignificantly improved upon Badnarik's performance, capturing only 0.4% of the popular vote in an election that also saw Nader finish a strong third behind the Democratic and Republican parties.[22]

Having received minimal publicity in the previous elections, which contributed to the low voting share that the party received, the Libertarian Party gained significant exposure and media attention in the lead-up to the 2012 Libertarian National Convention and the 2012 presidential election, starting with former two term New Mexico governor Gary Johnson's announcement of his presidential run with the Libertarian Party.[23][24][25] Using the publicity gained from the announcement, Johnson praised the Libertarian Party and championed their beliefs through interviews and public statements, which were often profane and harshly critical of both the Democratic and Republican parties. Johnson won the nomination at the 2012 Libertarian National Convention running to be more fiscally Conservative than Republican nominee Mitt Romney and more socially liberal than Democratic President Barack Obama. Johnsons's campaign for the presidency focused mostly on keeping the publicity gained by the Libertarian Party and gaining support from independents and dissenting Democratic and Republican voters, often echoing resentment towards the two parties. This included a court challenge against the Commission on Presidential Debates by Johnson that sought to include him in the official presidential election debates.[26][27]

On election day, Johnson oversaw a relatively sharp rise in the Libertarian Party's popularity, earning 1% of the popular vote (1,275,821 votes), across the Libertarian Party's ballot access in 48 states plus DC.[28] The result was double the amount Bob Barr received in 2008, pushing the Libertarian Party from a lower-tier third party to the most popular third party.[29] In this election Johnson received the most votes ever in the Libertarian Party passing Ed Clark's candidacy in 1980. This was the most successful result for a third-party presidential candidacy since 2000.[30][31]

January 2015 to January 2016: Early candidates

On January 7, the nomination paperwork for physician Marc Allen Feldman was filed. Over the following months, nominations were filed for Joy Waymire, Cecil Ince, Steve Kerbel, Shawna Joy Stirling, Derrick Michael Reid, and Rhett Smith. In early September, nominations were filed for John David Hale, Jack Robinson Jr, and Austin Petersen. On December 24, 2015, John McAfee was nominated.[32] He had previously announced that he would run as the candidate of a newly created Cyber Party with Ken Rutkowski as his running mate.[33][34]

Gary Johnson formally announced his candidacy for the 2016 Libertarian presidential nomination, in an interview with Neil Cavuto on the Fox Business Network program Coast to Coast, on January 6, 2016.[35]

April 2016: Top tier emerges

Despite the fact that the Libertarian Party has little to no scientific polling and does not conduct binding primaries and caucuses, the first nationally televised pre-nominating convention Libertarian Party debate featured only three candidates, establishing a top tier of former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, founder and CEO of McAfee Inc. John McAfee and owner and founder of The Libertarian Republic Austin Petersen.[36] A later debate hosted by RT America featured Marc Allan Feldman and Darryl Perry, however neither received as much media attention as the three candidates in the top tier.[37]

Early May 2016: Ventura declines to run

Jesse Ventura speaking in Minnesota in 2008.

In several late 2015 interviews including those on The Alan Colmes Show and In Depth with Graham Bensinger, Jesse Ventura publicly flirted with the idea of running for president in 2016 as a Libertarian.[38] Beginning on February 29, 2016, Ventura again made headlines following an announcement that if Bernie Sanders were to lose the Democratic Party nomination to Hillary Clinton, he would launch a presidential campaign under the Libertarian Party. Ventura subsequently appeared on RT, CNN, Alex Jones and various local radio outlets the following several days reiterating interest in a presidential campaign. He likewise revealed that he was formally invited to the 2016 Libertarian National Convention in Orlando, Florida by party leaders and that he would announce by the end of March if he were to go that route.[39][40] On March 3, 2016 Ventura released a shortlist of preliminary campaign platforms if he were to run for president. Included were rebuilding infrastructure, focusing on alternative energy, ending all foreign wars and following the teachings of Major General Smedley Butler, ending the war on drugs and reforming campaign financing.[41] Ventura ultimately decided not to seek the presidency, allowing his self determined deadline of May 1 to pass without an announcement. In mid-July, Ventura wrote an article declaring his support for Gary Johnson.[42]

Late May 2016: Johnson emerges as the front-runner

Gary Johnson speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C.

After Donald Trump won the Indiana Primary on May 3, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich suspended their campaigns, Donald Trump became the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party.[43][44] This sparked the Stop Trump movement, also referred to as #NeverTrump to consider running an independent candidate of their own such as former Texas governor Rick Perry, former Republican nominee Mitt Romney or Nebraska senator Ben Sasse, all of whom declined to run.[45] As the filing deadline for Texas and other states quickly passed, the Libertarian Party gained national recognition when Gary Johnson was included in a national poll conducted by Monmouth University and received 11 percent.[46] Johnson was quickly deemed the front-runner for the Libertarian Party presidential nomination and was featured in subsequent polls.[47][48] Johnson's name was also Googled more times than the Libertarian Party itself, and was featured in many interviews by the mainstream media, something that none of the Libertarian candidates had been able to do thus far in the campaign.[49] During the 2016 Libertarian National Convention various news networks flocked to the convention, and CSPAN covered the results.[1][50]


National polling

Poll source Sample size Date(s) Margin of Error Feldman Johnson McAfee Perry Petersen Others
Hammer of Truth[51] 156 Libertarian Convention delegates/alternates May 17–20, 2016 ± 4.5% 2% 61% 10% 8% 17% Not sure 2%
Other 1%

2016 Online polling

Poll source Sample
Date(s) Feldman Garcia Ince Johnson Kerbel McAfee McCormick Perry Petersen Reid Robinson Smith Sterling Waymire Zeman Others
Liberty Hangout[52] 617 May 10–24 O 14% O 23% 63% O N/A
Conservatarian Report[53] 919 May 13–23 O 29% O 19% 52% O N/A
A Libertarian Future[54] ~5,500 May 1–15 O 37% O 14% 49% O N/A
A Libertarian Future[55] ~5,500 Apr 16–30 O 38% O 25% 38% O N/A
A Libertarian Future[56] ~5,500 Apr 1–15 O 40% O 21% 4% 3% 29% None of the Above 3%
Libertarian Party website[57] 9,102 Mar 17–31 1% 0% 0% 58% O 7% 9% 5% 13% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% None of the Above 1%/
Other 4%
A Libertarian Future[58] ~2,500 Mar 15–31 1% 50% O 10% 4% 34% None of the Above 1%
Libertarian Party website[59] 8,609 Feb 20–
Mar 17
1% 0% 54% 4% 14% 2% 18% 0% 1% 0% 1% 0% None of the Above 2%/
Other 4%
A Libertarian Future[60] ~2,500 Mar 1–15 44% 7% 14% 11% 24% None of the Above 0%
A Libertarian Future[61] 3,341 Feb 12–29 2% 46% 11% 9% 31% None of the Above 1%[62] 31,154 Mar 16–25 0% 0% 0% 88% 0% 4% 0% 0% 8% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% N/A

Primaries and caucuses

Minnesota caucuses

Type: Open

The Minnesota caucus was run on March 1, 2016, using ranked choice voting. Gary Johnson took over 75% of the 226 first-preference votes cast, with John McAfee second on 12% and Austin Petersen third on 8%.[63]

Minnesota Libertarian presidential caucus, March 1, 2016[63]
Candidate Votes Percentage
Gary Johnson 171 76%
John McAfee 26 12%
Austin Petersen 17 8%
Darryl Perry 4 2%
Cecil Ince 2 1%
Steve Kerbel 2 1%
None of the above 2 1%
Marc Allan Feldman 1 0%
Shawna Joy Sterling 1 0%
Total 226 100%

County results —Minnesota. ----

  Gary Johnson
  No Votes

Missouri primary

Type: Open

The Missouri primary ran on March 15, 2016, alongside those of the Republican, Democratic, and Constitution parties. 40% of the electorate voted to stand uncommitted to any candidate. Austin Petersen, running in his home state, finished second with 29% of the statewide vote, which was double that of Steve Kerbel from Colorado, who finished third with 14%. Petersen comfortably won the support of voters in the state's capital, Jefferson City, and its surrounding counties, but fell heavily behind the uncommitted vote in the state's two largest cities, Kansas City and St. Louis. Kerbel won three counties around Springfield, while Marc Allan Feldman, Cecil Ince, and Rhett Smith all won a sprawl of counties across the state; in most of these counties, however, only a single vote was cast. No votes were cast for Libertarian Party candidates in the northwestern counties of Harrison, Holt, Mercer, and Worth.[64]

Missouri Libertarian presidential primary, March 15, 2016[64]
Candidate Votes Percentage
Uncommitted 1,170 40%
Austin Petersen 851 29%
Steve Kerbel 401 14%
Marc Allan Feldman 239 8%
Cecil Ince 134 5%
Rhett Smith 99 3%
Total 2,894 100%

County results — Missouri. ----

  Austin Petersen
  Steve Kerbel
  Marc Allan Feldman

  Cecil Ince
  Rhett Smith
  No Votes

North Carolina primary

Type: Semi-closed

The North Carolina primary was also run on March 15, 2016, and also alongside the primaries of the Republican, Democratic, and Constitution parties. Gary Johnson won against competing candidates with 42% of the primary vote, overcoming 35% of the electorate who remained uncommitted to any candidate, and far ahead of third-place finisher John David Hale with 6%. Most urban counties showed majority support for Johnson, particularly in the state's largest city, Charlotte, and its capital, Raleigh, while uncommitted votes mostly came from rural counties across the state. Many counties were tied between Johnson and the uncommitted vote, but a number of counties in the east recorded ties between Johnson and other candidates such as John David Hale and Joy Waymire, albeit with a small amount of votes. In Gates County, a four-way tie was recorded when Gary Johnson, Cecil Ince, and Derrick Michael Reid recorded one vote each, with an additional uncommitted voter accounted for. Tyrrell was the only county in the entire state where Johnson did not win or tie; instead Hale tied with an uncommitted voter, with one vote each.[65]

North Carolina Libertarian presidential primary, March 15, 2016[65]
Candidate Votes Percentage
Gary Johnson 2,414 41.48%
No Preference 2,067 35.52%
John David Hale 329 5.65%
Joy Waymire 268 4.61%
Austin Petersen 189 3.25%
Darryl Perry 118 2.03%
Steve Kerbel 109 1.87%
Derrick Michael Reid 74 1.27%
Cecil Ince 72 1%
Jack Robinson, Jr. 70 1.20%
Marc Allan Feldman 66 1.13%
Rhett Smith 43 0.74%
Total 5,739 100%

County results — North Carolina. ----
  Gary Johnson

Nebraska primary

Type: Semi-closed

The Nebraska primary was held on May 10, 2016. Independents and registered Libertarians were allowed to vote in the state's Libertarian primary. The Nebraska Primary marked the third large victory for the Johnson campaign, despite the most recent poll having shown him only 1% above Petersen nationally.

Nebraska Libertarian presidential primary, May 10, 2016[66]
Candidate Votes Percentage
Gary Johnson 366 52%
Austin Petersen 135 19%
John McAfee 121 17%
Marc Allan Feldman 48 7%
Steve Kerbel 35 5%
Total 705 100%

County results — Nebraska ----

  Gary Johnson
  Austin Petersen
  John McAfee

  Marc Allan Feldman
  No Votes

Oregon primary

The Oregon primary completed on May 27, 2016, the last day to receive mail-in ballots.

Oregon Libertarian presidential primary, May 27, 2016[67][68]
Candidate Votes Percentage
Gary Johnson 422 57%
John McAfee 105 14%
Merry Susan Nehls 34 5%
Austin Petersen (write-in) 25 3%
Darryl Perry 21 3%
Keenan Dunham 18 2%
Derrick Michael Reid 10 1%
Nathan Norman 8 1%
Rhett Smith 6 1%
NOTA (write-in) 2 0%
Other write-ins 91 12%
Total 742 100%

California primary

Type: Semi-closed[69]

In the California primary on June 7, the Libertarian Party appeared alongside the Republicans, Democrats, the Green Party (as part of their own series of primaries), the American Independent Party and the Peace and Freedom Party.[70]

This non-binding primary took place after the 2016 Libertarian National Convention.

California Libertarian presidential primary, June 7, 2016[71]
Candidate Votes Percentage
Gary Johnson 19,294 62%
John McAfee 3,139 10%
Austin Petersen 1,853 6%
Rhett Smith 1,531 5%
Joy Waymire 923 3%
John David Hale 873 3%
Marc Allan Feldman 867 3%
Jack Robinson, Jr. 739 2%
Steve Kerbel 556 2%
Darryl Perry 521 2%
Derrick Michael Reid 462 2%
Cecil Ince 417 1%
Total 31,175 100%

Results by county.
  Gary Johnson

2016 National Convention

Libertarian National Convention Presidential vote, 2016 – 1st Round[72]
Candidate first ballot Percentage
Gary Johnson 458 49.51%
Austin Petersen 197 21.30%
John McAfee 131 14.16%
Darryl Perry 63 6.81%
Marc Allen Feldman 58 6.27%
Kevin McCormick 9 0.97%
None of the above 5 0.54%
Ron Paul (Write-in) 1 0.11%
Vermin Supreme (Write-in) 1 0.11%
Heidi Zemen (Write-in) 1 0.11%
Derrick Grayson (Write-in) 1 0.11%
Totals 925 100%

No candidate achieved the majority on the first ballot, so there was a second ballot vote. After finishing last of the six nominated candidates, McCormick was excluded from the second ballot.

Libertarian National Convention Presidential vote, 2016 – 2nd Ballot[72]
Candidate Second Ballot Percentage
Gary Johnson 518 55.82%
Austin Petersen 203 21.88%
John McAfee 131 14.12%
Darryl Perry 52 5.60%
Marc Allen Feldman 18 1.94%
None of the above 2 0.22%
Derrick Grayson (Write-in) 1 0.11%
Michael Shannon (Write-in) 1 0.11%
Kevin McCormick (Write-in) 1 0.11%
Rhett Smith (Write-in) 1 0.11%
Totals 928 100%


Gary Johnson campaign

Political figures

Mayors and other municipal or county leaders
International political figures
Other politicians


Media personalities

Actors and comedians

Athletes and sports figures

Musicians and artists

Commentators, writers and columnists

Radio hosts

Social and political activists

John McAfee campaign

Austin Petersen campaign

Commentators, writers, and columnists

Mary Matalin speaking at a Bipartisan Policy event at Tulane University in 2009


Campaign finance

As of March 31, 2016 three candidates have reported their fundraising amounts to the Federal Election Commission; Gary Johnson, John McAfee and Austin Petersen.

Campaign committee (as of March 31) Total spent Suspended
Money raised Money spent Cash on hand Debt
Gary Johnson[110] $278,976 $243,924 $35,031 $0 $243,924 Active
John McAfee[111] $8,057 $7,858 $149 $0 $7,858 May 29, 2016
Austin Petersen[112] $112,812 $95,441 $17,371 $0 $95,441 May 29, 2016

Vice presidential primary

As of May 21, 2016, there were nine vice presidential candidates running.[113]

The Libertarian Party's vice presidential candidate is elected by the delegates at the LNC after the presidential nominee is announced. Vice presidential candidates are often endorsed or preferred by presidential candidates, but some have entered without a specific presidential nominee in mind, or a preference from any of them.

William Weld was nominated for vice-president.

See also

National Conventions


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