Johnson joins the board of directors of Students For Liberty, a nonprofit libertarian organization.
Johnson was a featured speaker at both the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and the Republican Liberty Caucus. At CPAC, "the crowd liked him—even as he pushed some of his more controversial points." Johnson tied with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for third in the CPAC Straw Poll, trailing only Ron Paul and Mitt Romney (and ahead of such notables as former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and former Alaska Governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin).
April 21, 2011
Johnson announced via Twitter, "I am running for president."
May 5, 2011
Johnson participated in the first of the Republican presidential debates, hosted by Fox News in South Carolina, appearing on stage with Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, and Rick Santorum. Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann both declined to debate.
June 3, 2011
Johnson was excluded from the next three debates on June 13 (hosted by CNN in New Hampshire), August 11 (hosted by Fox News in Iowa), and September 7 (hosted by CNN in California). After the first exclusion, Johnson made a 43-minute video responding to each of the debate questions, which he posted on YouTube. The first exclusion, which was widely publicized, gave Johnson "a little bump" in name recognition and produced "a small uptick" in donations.
September 22, 2011
Fox News decided that because Johnson polled at least 2% in five recent polls, he could participate in a September 22 debate in Florida, which it co-hosted with the Florida Republican Party (the party objected to Johnson's inclusion). Johnson participated, appearing on stage with Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum. During the debate, Johnson delivered what many media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, and Time, called the best line of the night: "My next-door neighbor's two dogs have created more shovel ready jobs than this administration." Entertainment Weekly opined that Johnson had won the debate.
December 28, 2011
Johnson formally withdrew his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination, and declared his candidacy for the 2012 presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
May 5, 2012
At the 2012 Libertarian National Convention, Johnson received the Libertarian Party's official nomination for president in the 2012 election, by a vote of 419 votes to 152 votes for second-place candidate R. Lee Wrights.
June 2, 2012
Johnson stated that his goal was to win at least 5 percent of the vote, as winning 5 percent would allow Libertarian Party candidates equal ballot access and federal funding during the next election cycle. In a national Gallup poll of likely registered voters conducted June 7 through June 10, 2012, Johnson took 3% of the vote.
July 13, 2012
A Zogby poll released July 13, 2012, revealed Johnson took 5.3% of likely voters.
August 1, 2012
Johnson's first book, Seven Principles of Good Government, was published.
Johnson spent the early months of his campaign making media appearances on television programs such as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Red Eye w/Greg Gutfeld. Johnson embarked on a three-week tour of college campuses throughout the US.
September 6, 2012
In a national Gallup poll of likely registered voters conducted September 6 through September 9, 2012, showed Johnson taking 1%.
September 23, 2012
A Zogby poll released September 23, 2012, showed Johnson taking 2% of likely voters.
October 23, 2012
Johnson participated in a third party debate that was aired on C-SPAN, RT America, and Al Jazeera English. A post-debate online election allowed people to choose two candidates from the debate they thought had won to face each other head to head in a run-off debate. Johnson and Jill Stein won the poll.
November 5, 2012
Johnson and Jill Stein debated again in Washington, D.C.
November 6, 2012
The final results showed Johnson polling nearly 1.3 million votes and 1.0% of the popular vote. This established a Libertarian Party record for total votes won in a presidential election and the second-highest Libertarian percentage ever, behind Ed Clark's 1.1% in 1980. Despite falling short of his stated goal of 5%, Johnson stated, "Ours is a mission accomplished". In regards to a future presidential bid, he said "it is too soon to be talking about 2016".
Since the 2012 elections, Johnson has continued to criticize the Obama administration on various issues. In an article for The Guardian, Johnson called on United States Attorney General Eric Holder to let individual states legalize marijuana. In a Google Hangout hosted by Johnson in June 2013, he criticized the US government's lack of transparency and due process in regards to the NSA's domestic surveillance programs. He also said that he would not discount running as a Republican again in the future.
In December 2013, Johnson announced the founding of his own Super PAC, Our America PAC. The Super PAC is intended to support libertarian-minded causes. “From the realities of government-run healthcare setting in to the continuing disclosures of the breadth of NSA’s domestic spying, more Americans than ever are ready to take a serious look at candidates who offer real alternatives to business-as-usual,” the release announcing the PAC said.
Johnson was appointed to the board of Medican Enterprises, a bio-pharmaceutical company focused on the medical marijuana industry.
In a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" session, Johnson stated that he hopes to run for president again in 2016. On whether he would run as a Libertarian or a Republican, he stated that "I would love running as a Libertarian because I would have the least amount of explaining to do."
In July 2014 Johnson was named president and CEO of Cannabis Sativa Inc., a Nevada-based company that aims primarily to sell medical cannabis products in states where medicinal and/or recreational cannabis is legal.