Election 2014

Do Third-Party Candidates Spoil Elections?


Americans will finally head to the polls on Tuesday to vote in the midterm elections, which is raising all the usual questions about the value of third-party candidates: Do they add variety and serve as a check on the major parties, or do just spoil things for the real candidates?

Earlier this month Reason TV's Nick Gillespie sat down with Avin Vohra, vice chair of the Libertarian National Committee, to discuss the big issues in this election and why he thinks voting for the Libertarian Party isn't throwing away a vote.

The story originall ran on October 28, 2014. Here's the original write-up: 

"When you give [Democrats and Republicans] your vote, you're telling them 'Go ahead, keep on doing what you're doing,'" explains Libertarian National Committee Vice Chair Arvin Vohra. "And when you vote for the Libertarian candidate you are telling them, in no uncertain terms, 'You do not have either my approval or my permission to grow or sustain big government: shrink it now.'"

As the midterm elections approach, Democrats and Republicans are making their final pleas to win over undecided voters, with some casting Libertarian candidates as "spoilers" in a few key races. But Vorha, himself running as a Libertarian for Maryland's 4th congressional district against Democratic incumbent Donna Edwards, dismisses the charge. Despite his low poll numbers, Vohra sees the act of casting a vote for the Libertarian Party as a pathway to reform. He quotes a former Libertarian candidate: "Not all politicians are smart, but they can all count." 

Vohra recently sat down with Reason TV's Nick Gillespie to discuss the 2014 elections, the issues that resonate across the country, and why he believes voting for the Libertarian Party is not throwing your vote away. 

Shot by Meredith Bragg and Joshua Swain. Edited by Swain.

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    1. Okay, just a hint: one of the two ruling parties wins Congress.

  1. Never mind 3rd party spoilers – why is Wendy Davis lagging in Texas?



    1. Serious contender for peak derp.

      1. Or a Derpie, an annual award for the stupidest thing said that year. Tell me this exists already.

    2. I have no idea what she meant to say there, but I don’t think it was “redistricting.”

      Nothing she said follows it.

  2. my friend’s aunt makes $65 an hour on the computer . She has been out of a job for 6 months but last month her pay check was $21485 just working on the computer for a few hours. take a look at the site here …

    ????? http://www.netjob70.com

    1. Back to the 82 hour work week, I see. But I suppose 82 hours per week is technically “a few”.

  3. Well, I do know that the big two spoil our lives in many many ways. Which is worse?

  4. In fairness, we do spoil the charade that the two old parties actually have any ideas, any shred of intellectual honesty or integrity, and mess up their non-stop personal attacks with the discussion of issues.

    1. Sadly, the electoral system is stacked against all third parties. In addition to this, people seem to focus on personalities more than they do substantive issues.

      1. We have a winnter take all system not a parlimentary system. So, third parties serve mostly to hand power to one side or the other by dividing their opposition.

        1. Yep. I’m not a fan of our system.

          1. I am. The system you want operates in Israel. There, small rump parties representing various small and radical groups often hold tremendous power that greatly outsizes their numbers because they are the deciding vote on a close issue. Libertarians are often fond of such a system because being a small group they see it as a way to have more influence. They fail to realize that they won’t always be the small group with outsized power. When it is another group like say some radical social conservative or green party, which it more often will be, they won’t like they system nearly as well as they thought they would.

            1. Israel is a closed party-list proportional representation system with a fairly low threshold, so it isn’t necessarily what I want. I didn’t even specify what I favored in the first place.

              Other liberal democracies like Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and Switzerland (can make an argument to classify it as such) do just fine with systems very different from our own. New Zealand has a mixed-member proportional system, Australia uses preferential voting for the lower house and a STV proportional system for its Senate, Ireland has STV for its lower house, and Switzerland has a party list system for its Parliament.

              I’m open to other alternatives, but just throwing out Israel’s issues isn’t going to convince me we should stick with our current system.

              There’s also other ideas to reform single-member voting systems. For instance, do you think FPTP is superior to a condorcet method like Ranked Pairs voting?

              1. My alternative is get rid of campaign finance limits so that people who are not political cronies with the ability to raise money in $1000 chunks. Do that and both parties will be more open to outsiders and reform and we won’t need a third party.

                The system worked great right up until the incumbents stacked the deck against any accountability in the name of getting the evil money out of politics.

        2. Winner-take-all (or First-past-the-post )is an electoral system. Parliamentary as opposed to say a Presidential system is a form of government. They are different things and do not go hand-in-hand.

          England uses First-past-the-post (one person elected to a district; whoever gets the most votes wins) to elect the members but has a Parliamentary systems; party (or coalition) with the most members elected gets to rule. Costa Rica uses proportional representation to elect its congress but has a separately elected President.

  5. http://taxprof.typepad.com/tax…..andal.html

    The dismissal of the Alabama Tea Party case against the IRS is a good case study in FYTIW. The IRS alledegly targets and fucks with these people for years until finally the people sue. The IRS stone walls for as long as it can and then a couple of months before Obama’s last midterm when it is too late for the group to do anything significant finally grants them their status and stops fucking with them. So now the judge dismisses the case since they got their status and no longer have standing. The years of harrassment and being denied their 1st Amendment rights are just a big fuck you that is why be glad the king finally granted your little hillibilly group its status.


    The report’s clarity of language over the future of coal, oil, and gas was welcomed by campaigners.

    “What they have said is that we must get to zero emissions, and that’s new,” said Samantha Smith from World Wildlife Fund.

    “The second thing is they said that it is affordable, it is not going to cripple economies.”

    But don’t worry, it won’t cost that much, compared to the total destruction of Planet Earth. We’ll just get some more golden eggs from that goose.

    1. Sure it won’t. People are just using fosil fuels instead of these wonderful green energies not because they are cheap and reliable and the green energy expensive and well on useless but because they are evil and just hate the earth.

      1. This is what progs actually believe.

    2. zero emissions =/= a crippled economy. I hereby amend a poster upthread who thought the comment re: Wendy Davis and redistricting was the Derp of the Year. This one retires the award.

  7. no question begging in that title, none at all.

  8. I’m stuck with a conundrum. As a resident of Maryland, I get to vote for Governor and Attorney General next Tuesday. Thankfully the horrible incumbent Governor has hit his term limits but his perhaps even more horrible Lieutenant Governor won the Democratic primary and is leading in the polls (albeit within the margin of error).

    The best Republican candidate, Charles Lollar, lost the primary to the milquetoast Larry Hogan. Both Hogan and the Republican candidate for Attorney General, Jeffrey Pritzker, have been unclear about their position on gun control, especially the 10-round limit and “assault weapons” ban passed last year. Unfortunately, Maryland has no constitutional provision for the bearing of arms, and so all challenges to the law in the courts must be done at the Federal level (which is not where they belong IMO).

    On the other hand, the Libertarian candidates for both positions (Shawn Quinn for Governor, Leo Dymowski for Attorney General) have taken hard stances in favor of gun rights and have specifically stated they intend to do everything possible to get rid of last year’s law, and to turn Maryland into a shall-issue state.

    1. It is very likely (but hardly guaranteed) that the Republican candidates will take pro-gun rights stances once elected, although for the governor he may simply veto new legislation rather than work for repeal of the existing law, at least in his first term (assuming he gets even that). As far as gun rights go, the choice is clear, but of course the Libertarians are not going to win either office, and there stands a realistic possibility the Republicans will. The O’Malley administration has been horrible for this state, and even if he is not good on gun rights, the Republican will no doubt be superior on taxes and spending than his Democratic opponent (although he’s a Chamber of Commerce type, so probably not so good on regulation).

      My conscience tells me to vote for the Libertarians, but my common sense tells me to vote for the Republicans, even though I don’t really think they deserve my vote. Lesser of two evils, indeed!

      1. The problem is that Brown is so bad and O’Malley even worse. If the Dems win it will stand as proof that they can literally do anything to this state without worry of losing office. As bad as O’Malley was, imagine how bad Brown will be after you gets elected and realizes O’Malley being that bad didn’t matter?

        1. Yeah, “Governor Brown” really is such a horrible thought that even my conscience is torn over this.

    2. It is tough. I will probably vote for the Libertarian because I think any Republican candidate who isn’t pro gun should be punished severly. That said, it might be that they are pro gun but are just bowing to the realities of running for office in a state full of retards and thus are trying to finesse the issue. The fact that they are unclear about the issue makes it very hard. This is especially true given the utter idiocy of the Maryland electorate. Could any candidate who was honest about guns win? I don’t think so.

      1. Lollar’s primary loss says everything I need to know about Republicans in this state. But it is a blue state, and they want to win even if it means gutting half their principles in the process. All the 2A forums are saying Hogan has been winking towards being pro-gun rights, but even if he wins, he’s unlikely to touch the issue in his first term (apart from vetoes, like I said, which is still better than nothing). Pritzker doesn’t seem to be in the pocket of the police unions but he might just be smart enough to not advertise that fact even if he is. It is not an easy choice, but the polls pretty much make it for me. If the Reps stand a chance at winning, then I can’t really file a protest vote. I guess I can save that for Hogan’s reelection if he turns out to be a disappointment.

        Still, the Libs in this state have really put forth some excellent candidates. They deserve to be rewarded for it (and the major parties punished) but the electoral mathematics don’t make it a reasonable choice.

  9. “Do Third-Party Candidates Spoil Elections?”


    The fact that Godzilla does not appear and stomp both candidates and their respective ‘strategists’ into jelly spoils them for me. I fail to see how the hiring of a new bureaucrat to lord over you every 4 years is cause for great excitement.

  10. “Do Third-Party Candidates Spoil Elections?”

    You can’t spoil something that’s already rotten.

  11. Do Third-Party Candidates Spoil Elections?

    No, the voters and the 2 big party pols spoil the elections.

    3rd party candiates fool some of us into thinking that maybe
    someday, things will change for the better.

    Voters put these assholes in office.

    Possible fixes

    draft, rather than election
    competency/civil service exams, after the vote
    sunset all legislation getting less than 75% of each chamber
    repeal 17th amendment, election of senators by voting public
    forbid attachments to legislation, bills only deal with 1 issue
    read all bills on the floor before voting on them and/or
    devise means of ensuring they have been read by ALL voting politicians

  12. Somebody please look at McDermott’s campaign ads for governor of NY (Libertarian) and tell me he’d be any better for individual liberty than Republican-Conservative Astorino would. McDermott opposes charter schools as imposing control of our children, and says we, the people should test hydrofracking to see if it’s safe enough (for the water supply) to be allowed; Astorino’s better on both of these issues. McDermott opposes the recent firearms act, but so does Astorino. Seems the only reason for voting for him is so Team (Whatever Color LP’s Using These Days) can get an easy ballot line for 4 yrs. to run candidates…who’ll presumably be like him?actually probably worse on avg., considering he got their nomination for governor.

  13. I’m the libertarian in the race here for assembly (80th, NY) vs. incumbent Democrat Gjonaj, but I’m not on the ballot as Libertarian, but rather as Republican & Conservative (the party I’m enrolled in). I think I have more impact with this very passive campaign than I would’ve with an active campaign as LP nominee. Already during this campaign I’ve been featured on NPR.

  14. Libertarian are funded by the democratic party. that tells you all you need to know.

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