Could a libertarian win a Senate race this year?

There are certain states that seem particularly predisposed toward Libertarians: Alaska, with its isolation-driven libertarian streak, and Massachusetts, with its sympathy to third-party candidates broadly. New Mexico appears on the list, but only because of Johnson himself: It was his best state in 2016, but he’ll have to improve upon his 9 percent showing this time around if he wants to win his Senate race. On the positive side for him, it definitely looks like the Libertarian Party is gaining influence: The party’s candidates rarely cracked 8 percent in its first few decades of existence, but they’ve picked up steam in elections this century.

But finally, there’s a big caveat to this list: Three of the names are only on this list because one of the major parties sat out that race. Michael Cloud was able to get 18 percent of the vote in the Bay State’s 2002 U.S. Senate race against John Kerry, but Kerry had no Republican opponent, so Cloud was his main opposition. Steve Osborn and Steven Rosile, meanwhile, ran in elections where there was no Democratic nominee. That hints at the single biggest factor that could boost Johnson’s chances in New Mexico this year: if Rich drops out to consolidate the anti-Heinrich vote. So far, he has shown no inclination to do so.