No, Sarvis Isn't Costing Cuccinelli the Virginia Governorship

In today's "No, libertarians are not conservatives who smoke pot" news.


Sometimes people's personal matters are also policy matters.
Credit: Gage Skidmore / / CC BY-SA

Over the weekend, libertarian conservative Timothy Carney praised Republican Ken Cuccinelli's libertarian credentials in the race for governor of Virginia. Cuccinelli has taken some strong media hits for being a social conservative, particularly in dealing with gays and abortion. Every major poll has him trailing Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe. But McAuliffe isn't exactly being showered with voter affection either. As a result, Libertarian Party candidate Robert Sarvis is polling as high as 10 percent.

Carney's analysis of Cuccinelli's libertarian leanings is certainly worth a read, but he seems to think that if Sarvis wasn't in the race, those votes would all come to Cuccinelli. David Weigel sorted through the Washington Post's final poll for the race and discovered Carney's likely to be wrong. Sarvis supporters were asked who they'd vote for if Sarvis weren't running. 53 percent said McAuliffe, and 42 percent said Cuccinelli. The big surprise for me was that only two percent said they wouldn't vote at all, but perhaps that's just my own biases – I couldn't imagine voting for either of the major party candidates if I lived in Virginia.

Carney lamented that not even libertarians are immune to identity politics:

Libertarians, as a rule, support gay marriage [Note: A new poll suggests this is not true. 59 percent of libertarians oppose same-sex marriage], and most libertarians are pro-choice. But pro-life views fit within the libertarian framework: If you believe an in utero baby is a person, and if you believe the government has a legitimate role in protecting the innocent from violence, it's logical to restrict abortion.

And Cuccinelli, while unwavering in his moral opposition to abortion, is a moderate among Virginia Republicans when it comes to government restrictions on abortion: He worked behind the scenes trying to remove a GOP-created requirement that women undergo an ultrasound before getting an abortion.

But the social liberals' attack on Cuccinelli conflates his personal conservatism with his policy views.

In prosecuting a 47-year-old sexual predator who had sex with minor, Cuccinelli defended the state's "Crimes Against Nature" law — thus the charge he wants to "ban sodomy" and hence homosexuality. "I can assure you," Cuccinelli told me, "I don't want to outlaw it — or outlaw contraception."

And on gay issues, he's no busybody: "I support the marriage amendment in our state. It really doesn't go beyond that."

But this is where the identity politics comes in. Taxes, regulations, government spending, gun control and corporate welfare are mere policy matters. Abortion and gay marriage touch on personal matters.

The problem with accepting Cuccinelli's explanation, as ample coverage of his effort to preserve the state's sodomy law has explained, is that the state has had a decade to adjust the law so that it no longer criminalized sexual behavior among consenting adults and did not. Cuccinelli voted against legislation that would have amended the bill to strip out the criminalization of adult sexual behavior. The Supreme Court simply was not going to revisit its sodomy ruling because Virginia failed to fix its laws.

But beyond that, it's problematic for anybody to treat voters as though they are there to serve a party's candidate and not the other way around. If I were a Virginia voter, I would appreciate Carney's efforts to make a libertarian case for Cuccinelli – it is certainly worth nothing the various intersections. But I don't appreciate when pundits, analysts, commentary writers, or what-have-you attempt to tell me I should care less about some issues I care deeply about and instead care more about other issues (which generally just so happen the pundit also cares deeply about). As a gay libertarian, I get this from both sides. I've been told I should vote for economic illiterates on the left because they support gay issues (even though I actually don't support some of these issues, but that's a whole other fight). I generally shrug off the arguments, but I would do the same for Carney here. It's not just a "personal matter." Cuccinelli exhibited poor judgment in his handling of the state's sex crime laws. It's a perfectly valid reason not to want to see him behind the governor's desk for that.

Elsewhere at Reason: Brian Doherty's interview with Sarvis.

NEXT: Gene Healy: Obamacare May Not Work, But Unfortunately the NSA Does

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  1. But, but, but Ann Coulter says Libertarian candidates cause Democrats to win because some of those stupid libertarian leaning people vote for Libertarians instead of Republicans! They’re supposed to vote for Republicans! Stupid libertarians!

      1. You libertarians are all pussies.

  2. Tim Carney? Isn’t this the same guy who came up with the “libertarian populist” concept? The idea that mysteriously concocts a populist libertarian movement that somehow doesn’t include Ron Paul or any of his inconvenient views on foreign policy, civil liberties or the drug war?

    Something tells me that Tim Carney is not a libertarian Republican, so much as a republican strategist that wants to co-opt libertarianism and use it to help Republicans win elections. I.e. a standard right-libertarian fusionist of the exact same kind that the Republicans have been using for 40 years to get libertarian votes and then screw us over.

    1. Also the fact that populism reduces to give the people what they want, principles be damned.

    2. Tim Carney is not a libertarian Republican

      Here’s myu phone number, lets fight, you stupid libertarians are not voting correctly.


      1. I walked 20 miles uphill in the snow to deliver Libertarian Party pamphlets! And then I abandoned the LP when they refused to vote Republican! Ron Paul sucks!


        1. You don’t need to make stuff up man, just check his twitter account.

          Today’s Libertarian Party partisans: Ungrateful bastards, who get more jollies from shitting on GOP than defeating Nazi Dems

          @RogerJStoneJr Oh, that’s real productive Roger. Giving the corrupt Marxist Dems a win over a Libertarian Republican. Way to go there Rog!

          1. My favorite part is when he calls Cooch a Libertarian Republican. His twitter is hilarious.

            1. Does this guy post in the Washington Times forums? I think I got into an argument with him over Cooch the other day…

              1. Does this guy post in the Washington Times forums?

                It wouldn’t surprise me. He posted here for a while until he got so histrionic we shamed him into leaving.

              2. Does this guy post in the Washington Times forums? I think I got into an argument with him over Cooch the other day…

                If you had a conversation with Eric Dondero, you would know that you had a conversation with Eric Dondero. Eric Dondero makes sure that everyone knows when Eric Dondero is around.

                1. The best part is when Eric starts boasting about the number of hookers he slept with. Real pick-up artist.

            2. We all know libertarians want separate rape laws for homo or hetero-coercive intercourse!

            3. He also threw a screaming hissy fit that lib’ts would support Ron Paul over the “Libertarian Republican” Rudy Giuliani.

              Some more gems from his twit-feed:

              Chris, we used to like you. You’ve become too “Dem-friendly.” Democrats ARE OUR ENEMIES! Destroy them!!

              Rural whites just cannot relate to a black urbanite, who openly has contempt for white culture.

              White math teacher of #Republican #Massachusetts town brutally murdered by #Obama look-alike thug

              KEEP YOUR GODDAMNED LAWS OFF OF MY BODY YOU NAZI-COMMIE PIECE OF SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

              “that government is best, that governs least” Jefferson said it, I believe it and that settles it.

              Okay, I’ll admit, Obama likes golf and sports. But Hitler loved his dog. And Obama ate dog.

              Yoh, Joe, I’ve got a Libertarian asshole you can lick you mother fucking Nazi price. Fuck You! And Fuck your Hitler Obama.

              1. Wow, DOOONNDERROOOOO is a fucking racist now too? That’s new.

                1. Hmmmm….I wonder if Dondero wrote the newsletters? Maybe that is why Ron Paul fired him?

                2. That’s what I thought. I didn’t remember that angle to him. But apparently now any black person that does something bad is an “Obama look-alike thug” to him.

              2. Didn’t McBain kill all the Commie-Nazis that one time?

              3. To be fair, I agree that Dems should be destroyed.

                Along with 99% of Republicans.

        2. I had an encounter with him once. He hated my name soooo passionately. I could practically feel the spittle on my face as I read his words.

          1. Yeah, he wanted to everyone to post under their real name so he could stalk them. He’s got some real bad wiring.

            1. It was amazing how quickly he turned from the issue to demanding my home address as some sort of price of admission. Flaunting anonymity around him is like waving a flag at a bull. Only the bull has no legs.

              1. Remember that DOOONDERROOOO is really, really short. Like joe short. He’ll fight your shins!

  3. It really is rather infuriating, as a happily married gay man, to be told I shouldn’t care about those issues as a libertarian. I’ll take Robert Sarvis, Gary Johnson, and Jim Gray over Ken Cuccinelli, Ted Cruz, and EW Jackson any day.

    1. You mean, you’ll take the Democrat candidate. Because you are never going to get the Libertarian one

  4. “Governor Terry McAuliffe”… Points at Virginia and laughs.

    1. Laugh all you like but it’ll feel great to hit rock bottom and know we’ve got no where to go but up.

      And we made it through four years of dumbass Kaine as Governor. The VT massacre only allowed him to sign an order scrutinizing gun sales to people involuntarily committed to mental health treatment centers.

      1. The one nice thing will be knowing that the state Donks will be saddled with this sleazy pile of shit as their nominal leader for years. Who knows how many scandals and investigations are in the cards?

        But it’s still fucking embarrassing to have Bill Clinton’s bag man who’s never held an actual job in his life as governor.

        1. I put the major scandal over/under at 3. Minor scandals at 8. And thanks to McDonnell taking bribes, there will be no real pressure for him to resign.

          1. McAuliffe can find the money McDonnell took in the cushions of his couch.

            Mc….Mc….noticing a trend here. No more fucking Irish candidate in Virginia! We’re gonna do things Duke Phillips-style from now on!

            1. Hey, when I found out that my maternal Virginian ancestors were of German decent instead of the Scots-Irish rabble they were consorting with for a few centuries there, I could not have been happier. I knew there was a reason we ate a lot of schnitzel and kraut in the house, and sang Bavarian folk songs.

        2. Bush’s fault for expanding the Federal payroll and its hanger on class that Virginia is such a political basket case now.

          1. Yup, X10000. The exploding population of Fairfax and Prince William counties, chock-full of lefty bureaucrats, is what’s dragging the state leftwards. Thanks, Dubya!

      2. but it’ll feel great to hit rock bottom and know we’ve got no where to go but up.

        Have you seen Detroit lately? California? New York? Virginia is far from the bottom. It is only beginning to taste despair.

  5. As a gay libertarian, I get this from both sides. I’ve been told I should vote for economic illiterates on the left because they support gay issues (even though I actually don’t support some of these issues, but that’s a whole other fight).

    Not only do I disagree with huge chunks of the LGBT orthodoxy, but also, those economic illiterates (or worse) on the left who “support gay issues” are often a lot worse on those issues than their cheerleaders care to admit. I remember hearing how wonderful Maryland Democrats were, even as the Team-Blue-dominated state legislature reenacted the state’s sodomy laws.

    1. What’s a term that better symbolizes the economic destruction of command-control policies? Illiterate makes them sound inconsequential.

    2. What exactly is LGBT orthodoxy?

      1. I think its that the the government should violate people’s contract, free speech, association, and property rights on behalf of LGBT just as they do for blacks, due to the history of slavery and oppression that they share.

        1. I must have dozed off during that part at the LGBT strategy session.

          1. Admit it, you were too busy being fabulous to pay attention.

          2. So are you saying that most LGBT activists don’t favor laws requiring private businesses not to discriminate based on sexual orientation?

            1. I don’t know. Personally, I favor treating gays the same as other protected minorities, regardless of which laws exist.

              Ah libertarians, where would the entrenched privileged classes be without your continued and fervent support?

              1. Yep, cause nobody would ever run a competing business that promoted photography or catering or baking specifically to gay weddings.

                The only entrenched privileged class is the one that lives in Washington D.C.

                1. And white heterosexual Christian males–by some measures.

                  1. Yeah, I forgot the entire black community absolutely loves homosexuality. No social conservatism there, not sir. Dishonest shithead is dishonest, how about that?

        2. Yes, gay people have been oppressed. Sorry that’s inconvenient for you. Yes, there are degrees of oppression with slavery and genocide at the top. You seem to have no trouble playing the butt-hurt victim card over property rights. Your dishonesty only undermines your credibility.

          1. Seriously? Untwist your panties and re-read what Dean wrote.

            He isn’t denying that there’s been oppression.

        3. history of slavery

          There are enough real reasons to disagree without having to set up straw men.

  6. 59 percent of libertarians oppose same-sex marriage

    Because nothing says principled support for the rights of individuals like telling people what they can and can’t do. Please note that I’m reading the literal wording of the article which says “a majority (59%) of libertarians oppose same-sex marriage” which is different than asking whether the state should sanction these marriages.

    1. Yep, the poll says legally married though. Carney is just a douche.

    2. Look, Tonio, state-controlled and sanctioned marriage for heterosexuals is an important part of any libertarian’s philosophy. Hold on while I make some noises about getting the state out of marriage, which won’t happen and which I won’t actually expend any effort trying to make happen, and then I’ll go back to saying that homos shouldn’t be able to get married. Because I’m all about personal liberty and totally don’t hate fags.

      1. Fuck you.

        Ive spent 25 years expending effort to separate state and marriage.

        Most of the effort has been posting on the internet, but that is still effort.

        1. That wasn’t directed at you, rob, and you know it.

          1. Actually, it looks like it was to me.

            As Im the primary poster on here regularly arguing that we need to get the state out of marriage instead of expanding it, how is it not directed at me?

            1. You are far from the only one, but definitely the most consistent and principled. You don’t go on about stupid crap like changing the definition of marriage, just stick to keeping the government out of it.

      2. Well-put Epi.

        Rob, thanks for being principled. But the butt-hurt doesn’t help.

        1. But the butt-hurt doesn’t help.

          I can think of a way to avoid that, but you might not like my idea.

        2. Its also nice to hear you acknowledge that supporters of gay marriage licensing are unprincipled.

          1. Sometimes principles conflict. Equality under the law is another principle that a lot of people hold dear and believe applies to the marriage question.
            Philosophically, I am pretty much an anarchist. So on principle I should argue against any law about anything. But I take some interest in practical politics (I don’t know why, just a masochist, I guess) and to do that you need to have ideas that are at least remotely possible.

    3. Why hasn’t this American Values Survey (In Search of Libertarians in America),…..VS_WEB.pdf , gotten more play here? Is it because it might make Reason-Rupe polls look bad or superfluous? Even just the page referenced in the article and this comment subthread is very interesting! But then, a lot of commenters here tend to put down the whole concept of polling, let alone individual polls.

      1. But then, a lot of commenters here tend to put down the whole concept of polling, let alone individual polls.

        There’s no question that the general accuracy of straight-up horse race polling (do you support candidate A, B, or C in the upcoming election) has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few election cycles.

        But I still say that subject matter opinion polls of the kind that Reason-Rupe usually does are close to worthless. You can get completely different results on almost any issue depending upon how the particular question is worded, and the opinions of the typical low-information American citizen (that now dominates the electorate) are usually too divergent, conflicting, and nonsensical for them to have any real significance as expressed in any particular poll.

        1. Yes, you can get different answers by wording a question differently, which really makes it a different question. But what’s interesting is the different answers you get when you ask the same question to different populations (different by geography or some other characteristic like age or affiliation) or the same population at different times. That’s what’s interesting in any kind of experiment: the differences when something is varied and everything else is kept the same. The correlations are what fascinate me. Who knew that the people who are X% this way are also Y% that way? It’s not always as you would guess in advance.

  7. “Cuccinelli voted against legislation that would have amended the bill to strip out the criminalization of adult sexual behavior.”

    C acknowledges that the sodomy law is unenforceable insofar as it applies to consensual adult sodomy between lovers or spouses in private.

    Don’t have time to look this up now, but I think the Va bill would have reduced the penalties for *involuntary* sodomy or sodomy in public or with minors, or some such thing. Anyway, it did more than simply strike out the parts of the sodomy law which were already unenforceable.

    1. It was an immoral attempt to keep arrows in the prosecutors quiver at the expense of everybody else. It had everything to do with being able to stack charges in a criminal case, as long as you trust the government only to use it against people you don’t like.

      1. Like I said before, that’s a valid criticism of C’s position, and at least it correctly states that position.

        But what the swing voters are hearing is that C would put them in prison for sodomy with their spouses or lovers.

        1. To me it reveals that for Cuccinelli, the end justifies the means.

          1. He should have appealed the 4th Circuit panel ruling anyway, since it second-guessed the reasoned decisions of the state appeals courts.

            1. Oh, and the question of penalties for nonconsensual sodomy, etc. is quite legitimate. Any criticism of his vote on the bill would have to defend the lower sentences.

              1. He should run commercials accusing McAuliffe of supporting lighter penalties for rapists. I think it passes the technical truth test.

              2. AFAIK, the distinction between nonconsensual and consensual was not an issue for the Cooch.

                ” My view is that homosexual acts, not homosexuality, but homosexual acts are wrong. They’re intrinsically wrong. And I think in a natural law based country it’s appropriate to have policies that reflect that. … They don’t comport with natural law. I happen to think that it represents (to put it politely; I need my thesaurus to be polite) behavior that is not healthy to an individual and in aggregate is not healthy to society.”

                1. Dammit, I meant to quote instead of bold.

                  1. No, it deserved to be bolded.

  8. The lesson is that Virginia, with its 13 electoral votes, is clearly a blue state now.

    1. How’s the Obamacare rollout going, Tony?

      1. How’s the rollout of the libertarian healthcare plan going? Oh, you have no political power and no such thing exists?

        1. So far, the libertarian plan has harmed fewer people than yours.

          So we’ve got that going for us.

          1. Based on Tony’s metric, the Nazi Germany was a success.

          2. You know that responding to the pathetic sockpuppet is pathetic in its own right, right? That its only purpose is to rile you up and get you to respond to it, right? That you’re doing exactly what it wants, right?

            1. Eh, everyone has moments of weakness.

              1. Which it feeds on. Don’t be weak.

            2. I think it’s a meta-sockpuppet and you are playing right into its hands. Its whole purpose is to get people to respond to its stupid arguments so that you and SUgarFree will tell everyone not to feed the trolls. That’s what it really gets off on.
              Pretty soon there will be a new breed of troll whose entire purpose is to get me to respond to you when you tell people how stupid it is to respond to the troll/sockpuppet.

              1. Zeb’s striking vision of a desolate future.

              2. And you’re falling right into its trap!

        2. Your response says it all.

    2. The lesson is that Virginia, with its 13 electoral votes, is clearly a blue state now.

      More like purple swing state heading toward blue.…..inia,_2012

  9. Even if C supported the requirement of ultrasounds for women seeking abortions, he wouldn’t be an extremists. But he *opposed* that measure. Where exactly is the extremism on his abortion position, based on the laws he actually supports? Unless you swallow the choicer talking point that anything more restrictive than the status quo is extremist.

    1. He’s a “socon”. That automatically makes him like a puritan Hitler putting women in concentration camps and burning witches for not going to church. Now do you see?

      1. Why yes, I do see that socons are easily reduced to insane, spittle-flinging rants at the drop of a hat.

  10. OT but maybe of interest to Shackford: GLOBAL: Gay boycott of Stolichnaya had “minimal” impact – SPI Group CMO

    SPI’s CMO Marco Ferrari said some US accounts stopped selling Stolichnaya but that the protest […]”didn’t really get any traction” in other markets. Most of the US accounts soon returned to serving the vodka, Ferrari said.

    1. I hear Rolls Royce is a bad corporate citizen. I’ll boycott them, too.

    2. No offense meant, but activist gays and gay-rights activists, even in the vodka drinking set probably don’t have enough pull to do meaningful boycotts.

      1. Boycotts are symbolic and mostly make people feel good. They don’t usually have much of an effect. At least they’re non-coercive.

        1. Agreed. I am just suggesting that I thought the boycott never had much of a chance, although I don’t think Jesse or Scott expected different.

          1. Agreed. I am just suggesting that I thought the boycott never had much of a chance, although I don’t think Jesse or Scott expected different.

            Scott argued persuasively that it was a misdirected and ineffective boycott. I’m not dedicated enough to stick with a boycott and think they should be used sparingly and only when they can be effective. I just linked it up because Shackford had written several articles related to the topic.

  11. “59 percent of libertarians oppose same-sex marriage”

    Why do I believe that a large portion of these libertarians also oppose opposite-sex marriage (in the eyes of the state anyways)?

    1. Because its true.

    2. oh geez, just read the report. Libertarians n=13. So if one person answered differently it would look like 46%.

      1. So meaningless then.

        1. And “libertarians” possibly identified by the surveyors criteria, rather than by them self-identifying as such.

          1. I mean, look at this:

            Among libertarian voters who identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, Paul (26%) was the most popular potential candidate, while 18% prefer Cruz, 16% prefer Rubio, and 13% prefer Ryan. Fewer libertarian voters prefer Christie (10%) or Bush (6%).

            “Libertarians” who “identify” with the Republican party and who support Ryan or Christie? Bitch, please.

          2. Why don’t you RTFA? Self-identif’n was a question, but not the categorizing one. They do use criteria according to a multivariate values scale, similarly to (but with more precision than) the libertarian-authoritarian axis of WSPQ, etc.

            1. If you go by self-identif’n of libertarians, you get too small a sample. There are more people who objectively think libertarian than who identify as such. The survey also separately characterizes “consistent” libertarian thinkers from those who “lean” libertarian. Interesting stuff if you’re interested in how people tick.

      2. No, libertarians were 13% of the total of 2,317 respondents, so n=301, large honkin’ sample.

        Hmmm…23…17…rather illuminated numbers…just sayin’.

        1. That’s still only 175 of the respondents.

          Which brings us back to the reason polls are fucking stupid: The idea that 175 people out of 2,300 represent the thoughts of half of “libertarians” is laughable.

          1. No, 13% of 2,317 is 301, not 175. And 301 people is a big sample for the statistical comparisons in that study. If you knew the science of statistics, you’d realize that. The only fault is in the overall popul’n sampling method, which could be better (but would then have to be a lot more expensive) to get closer to random. But if your math is so bad that you could get 175 as 13% of 2,317, then maybe you should just trust the word of someone like me on these matters. I mean, come one, just look at it?13 is more than 10, and 10% of 2,317 is over 230.

          2. No, 13% of 2,317 is 301, not 175. And 301 people is a big sample for the statistical comparisons in that study. If you knew the science of statistics, you’d realize that. The only fault is in the overall popul’n sampling method, which could be better (but would then have to be a lot more expensive) to get closer to random. But if your math is so bad that you could get 175 as 13% of 2,317, then maybe you should just trust the word of someone like me on these matters. I mean, come on, just look at it?13 is more than 10, and 10% of 2,317 is over 230.

    3. 29% of these supposedly libertarian people oppose marijuana legalization. I’m not sure how valid any of these numbers really are

      1. Maybe you should be less sure of how valid your idea of “libertarian people” is. Look at the study’s method for scaling on the libertarian-communitarian scale.

        1. But of course we shouldn’t question how valid this poll’s idea of “libertarianism” is, right?

  12. You’ll notice there is absolutely zero discussion about whether Cuccinelli wants to cut the size of government. Because, AFAIK, he doesn’t.

    Would he be a better governor than McAuliffe on role-of-government issues? Maybe. But not much better. With McAuliffe, you can pretty much assume four years of unprecedented graft, along with fruitless attempts to raise state taxes.

    1. The one reason I’m hoping for a Cuccinelli victory (although voting for Sarvis) is because I doubt those attempts to raise taxes will be so fruitless. God knows there are plenty of VA Repubs that will be more than happy to suck more money out of my wallet, and who will be quite amenable to signing on to McAuliffe’s tax hikes.

  13. The people who, if they couldn’t vote for Sarvis, would vote for McAwful, are probably cultural-issue voters, not economic-freedom voters. That’s just a hypothesis, of course.

    The headlines in the case of a McAwful victory will be “Voters Reject Divisive Tea-Party Favorite – Cuccinnelli went to court against Obamacare and environmental protection – McAwful says ‘the voters have clearly rejected the laisser-faire ideology and I look forward to supporting policies which invest in Va’s future.”

  14. Republicans want to impose Christian Shariah on us, the Democrats want to impose Marxist socialism on us. Really, there is no way I would ever even consider voting for either. Ever.

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