To take control of the Senate this November, Republicans need a net gain of six Senate seats to take control of Congress, but third party candidates in North Carolina, Kansas, South Dakota, Georgia, (and sort of Louisiana) may undermine this goal.
In North Carolina, a libertarian pizza deliveryman could determine the race between Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis. An independent in Kansas is leading the Republican incumbent Pat Roberts in many recent polls, also with a libertarian who could influence the outcome. An independent in South Dakota has introduced uncertainty in what should have been considered an "in the bag" seat for Republicans. A libertarian and a tea partier could force both Louisiana and Georgia into a run-off election. Strikingly in Virginia, the Libertarian candidate is capturing more votes than the Republican among young voters.
While it is true third-party candidates typically don't win, serious third party challengers can still identify the major parties' vulnerabilities based on which types of voters they peel away. For Republican candidates struggling to close the deal with the public, writes Reason Foundation polling director Emily Ekins, liberty-minded small government views may be the missing ingredient.