The newly-minted Libertarian ticket could serve as a fallback. On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal editorial page described Johnson and Weld as an "honorable alternative" to Trump and Clinton should voters find themselves disenchanted with both. But Johnson and Weld have problems of their own on the right: they're relatively pro-choice, support same-sex marriage and back legalizing marijuana. If you're a social conservative opposed to Trump because you think he's a closet liberal with two wives too many, they may not be your ideal protest vote.
Can a third party win?
It's extremely unlikely. The country is highly polarized along party lines and polls already show Trump and Clinton largely consolidating their side's respective voters, with Clinton hampered a bit by her ongoing race against Bernie Sanders. As much as Trump winning the nomination scrambled political expectations, a hastily organized third-party effort seriously competing in November would be a vastly bigger surprise. Advocates of a third-party run argue that Trump's and Clinton's unpopularity give them an opening to at least achieve new relevance compared to past outsider candidates.
What's the point of running then?
A third party would give conservatives ideologically opposed to Trump a megaphone to carry on their message in exile. There's also a strategic argument: Never Trump leaders assume the presumptive GOP nominee is on track for a devastating defeat and worry that disgruntled conservatives won't show up to the polls to support Republican candidates down ballot. Democrats have a strong chance of winning back the Senate thanks to a favorable map, and many of the most important races are in swing states including Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. The House is a much tougher climb, but not impossible in a blowout situation. Republicans have made tremendous gains at the state level under President Obama, and there are concerns Trump could reverse their progress there as well.
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For the Libertarian Party, the goal is to spread the limited government gospel and hopefully get on the debate stage, which would require them to reach 15 percent in polls. If they finish with 5 percent of the vote they can qualify for federal funding, which would give them a chance to build on their progress in 2020.
Can they even get on the ballot?
Here's where the Libertarians have the advantage: They're already on the ballot in 32 states and say they're on track for all 50 and the District of Columbia.
For a conservative candidate, it won't be easy to get on fifty state's ballots a mere five months before the election, especially if they have little name recognition, experience and infrastructure. Different states have different deadlines and requirements, but our Never Trump source said the groups mobilizing against Trump have a plan to get themselves on at least 39 state's ballots, and might even go to court to fight some of the tougher restrictions that would keep them off the ballots in states like Texas, where Independent candidates were required to signal their interest in running last year.