Campaigns/Elections

Third Parties in Congressional Races: More of Them Than Ever, and Being Used as a Tool by the Democrats

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Smart Politics, a site from the University of Minnesota, notes there are more third party congressional candidates on the ballot this year than in any year since 2010 1934. The Libertarian Party is leading the pack, with 153 candidates on the ballot; the Greens are next with 58, and the Constitution Party has 39.

For context:

In total, there are 443 such candidates on ballots across the nation, up 42.4 percent from 2008 and 56.5 percent from the last midterm election in 2006.

In 1994, only 260 independents and third party candidates ran for the U.S. House.

That means there is a 70.4 percent increase in the number of alternatives from which voters may choose the candidate that best represents their policy preferences (or expresses their anger and dissatisfaction with the political process) as compared to 1994.

And the Libertarian Party in a press release today noted what they see as a pattern of Democratic candidates publicizing their LP opponents–generally in a manner that looks on the surface as antagonistic but that is likely crafted to encourage some Republicans to cast their vote for the LP.

See, for example, this from Alexi Giannoulias, the Democratic Senate candidate from Illinois highlighting Libertarian Mike Labno as the "conservative" in the race; a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) flier from a Colorado race slamming Libertarian Gregory Gilman as the "Tea Partier" in the race; and this from the DCCC in Maryland saying that a vote for Libertarian Richard Davis would "be a vote for the Tea Party." This Indiana TV station openly states that a Democratic attack mailer on Libertarian Greg Knott is "an obvious attempt to encourage conservatives to vote for Knott rather than Republican Todd Young."

The LP's executive director Wes Benedict suggests in that press release:

The Democrats are obviously hoping to turn Republican voters into Libertarians. Their trick might turn out to be our treat.

"If the Republicans are smart, they might try a similar tactic. For example, Republicans could inform liberal voters that Libertarians want to end foreign wars and close foreign military bases; end the War on Drugs; reform immigration policy to make legal immigration easier; and we want the government to show equal treatment to homosexuals.