Libertarian Party

Exit Polls for Haugh, Sarvis: Who Did Those Libertarians "Spoil" Their Senate Races For?


Two Libertarian Party Senate candidates in prominent races beat the spread between their major-party opponents. In North Carolina, Libertarian Sean Haugh got 3.74 percent, with Republican Thom Tillis winning with 49 percent and Democrat Kay Hagan at 47.21.

It isn't common for Democrats to accuse Libertarians of "spoiling" elections for them, but a look at NBC News exit polls show that Haugh voters indeed came more from people who consider themselves "moderate" (5 percent of self-identified moderates went Haugh) and even "liberal" (4 percent of liberals voted for Haugh) than from conservatives (only 2 percent of whom voted for Haugh). Those were the only three choices for self-identification.

Only 1 percent each of self-identified Democrats or Republicans voted Haugh, while 9 percent of Independents did. (Those again were the only choices.) (Independents otherwise went 49-42 for Tillis over Hagan.)

In other exit poll results, Haugh's portion of the vote fell pretty steadily as age groups got older—he got 9 percent of the 18-24 vote, and only 2 percent of the 50-and-over crowd.

Haugh did strongest among white women in race/gender breakdowns, with 5 percent of that crowd, and only 1 percent of black men or black woman—and no polled number of Latino men or women.

Other interesting Haugh exit poll results: His overall man/woman breakdown was the same, 4 percent of each in the exit poll. Haugh's numbers got progressively smaller as voter income got bigger—he earned 6 percent of the under-$30K vote but only 1 percent of the over-$200K vote. Libertarians aren't just for plutocrats.

Interestingly, Haugh got more votes from people who want to raise the minimum wage than from those who don't, giving credence to the notion that he represents a libertarianism not that interested in economic liberty issues. He got more votes from those against the wars in Syria and Iraq than those for it, and only slightly more votes from pro-gay marriage types than anti-gay marriage types—5 percent of the pros, 4 percent of the antis.

Now for Robert Sarvis, who you can bet will be accused by some of "costing" Republican Ed Gillespie the Senate election. Sarvis got 2.45 percent of the vote; winning Democrat Mark Warner got 49 and Gillespie 48.48.

What can NBC's exit poll tell us about where Sarvis voters came from?

Sarvis drew equally from liberals, moderates, and conservatives according to this poll—3 percent of each.

But when it gets to party identification, he drew statistically nothing from Democrats, 3 percent from Republicans, and 7 percent from Independents. Independents were otherwise split evenly 47-47 between Warner and Gillespie. So, there is indeed some cause for GOPers to think that Sarvis' presence in the race was bad for them.

In other Sarvis exit poll results from NBC, Sarvis did best among Independent men, with 7 percent, and best among college graduates, with 6 percent. In term of family income, he did best among the under-$50K crowd, with 4 percent of those, vs. just 2 percent of the $100K or more folk. 

Sarvis did only slightly better with the antiwar crowd, getting 3 percent of them vs. 2 percent of the pro-war crowd. Sarvis got statistically zero among members of the military, and did better with the pro-gay-marriage crowd, getting 5 percent of the pro and only 2 percent of the anti. He also did better with small city and rural than suburbs or big city folk, getting 4 percent with the former and only 2 percent with the latter.

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  1. i594 passes, by 60%. Libertopia is upon us!

    In the first tally Tuesday, nearly 60 percent of voters were supporting Initiative 594, which would extend background checks in Washington state to private sales and transfers. The measure was winning in eight of the 10 largest counties in the state.…..ksxml.html

    1. Win some, LOSE SOME.

      Cato’s Robert A Levy must feel vindicated by this libertarian moment.

      1. In my case, it’s Lose Some… Lose yet some more…

        1. It’s like being a Cleveland, San Diego, or Buffalo sports fan. Unfortunately, the stakes are hgiher

  2. Loks like the Koch dark money viral media canmpaign paid off!

    Those poor young (hot) white girls clearly identified with the hot chick in the Haugh/High vids.

  3. Where is all the “voting doesn’t matter” cosmotardian articles now?

    1. Right here. I voted. I didn’t win a single thing. Not one. Not… one…

      1. I feel for ya, brother.

        I broke down and voted in a couple local matters. Did OK on those.

        Otherwise? As I noted elsewhere, “Statism won tonight.”


  4. Nice Reporting Brian.

    Lots of information to digest there. I’m gonna havta draw some Venn Diagrams tomorrow when I’m sober.

    This might maybe be capital-L-Libertarians actually backing into the beginning of a strategery that isn’t a self defeating blunder from the get-go. Or we/they just got fucking lucky once. Still even if its 90/10 against, thats the best odds I’ve seen in a while.

  5. According to the NBC exit poll, Latinos, Asians, ans “others” didn’t vote for any of the 3 candidates?

  6. Cue Karl Rove / Ann Cunt-er bloviating about libertarian spoilers for TEAM Red.

  7. “Sarvis got statistically zero among members of the military”… well he got at least one military vote.

  8. Ooh look, Sarvis handed a seat to a Democrat AGAIN.

    And I voted for every Libertarian and libertarian on my ballot.

    One I knew couldn’t win, wouldn’t spoil, and had a great platform.(He lost)
    One I knew would win. Because he’s that good.(He won)
    And one I wanted to win because when I met him, he hit all the right points. (He lost)

    But what makes it a spoiler?

    First, you have to know that your candidate really can’t win. That’s primary.

    Then, you have to answer this question–“Will my vote maybe make it possible for someone who wants to utterly destroy liberty to get into office?” (Because one rarely gets to vote for a libertarian with the real hope that they’ll win–and one almost NEVER gets to vote for a Libertarian with any real hope that they’ll win).

    So, if handing the election to an actual enemy of liberty is possible, you’re spoiling. Party is irrelevent.

    1. This only applies if you ALSO believe that the election will be decided by 1 vote. Otherwise your single vote cannot possibly spoil anything, so you might as well vote for the person you believe in.

  9. But when it gets to party identification, he drew statistically nothing from Democrats

    This doesn’t speak well of Democrats.

  10. For the NC Sean Haugh race, at least, the characteristics of who actually voted for Sean (versus Sean supporters) are skewed by the extremely close nature of the Tillis-Hagan race. Since Sean polled a lot better than the vote shows, it’s pretty evident that a significant number of people who thought the Libertarian was the best choice went to the polling booth and said “fuck it, I will be so pissed off if Kay Hagan wins I will hold my nose and vote for this jackass Tillis anyway.” I think Tillis peeled off many more voters from Sean than Hagan did.

    Not me, by the way. But I know of several who went that way. Which leaves only true believers and soppy left-libertarians to answer the exit poll.

  11. How about Virginia? Any exit polls there? I got some GOP wacko telling me that Senate race is the Libertarian’s fault.

  12. Sarvis’s town vs city split may be an artifact of the fact that urban in Virginia often translates to government employed. Arlington and Alexandria are federL employees, Charlottesville is a state university town, Richmond is a state Capitol.

  13. I think Reason and Sarvis are both looking at the results too narrowly. Of course, using the exit poll is like making cake without all the ingredients. To wit: my wife and I, both 57, and our 2 sons, 28 and 33, all voted for Sarvis for Senate and Governor last year. NONE OF US WOULD HAVE VOTED AT ALL IF SARVIS WAS NOT ON THE BALLOT. None of us voted for a D or R down ballot, so we did not ‘take’ any votes from anyone. We even voted for the Green for our Congressman as a pure protest vote.

  14. I voted Libertarian because of Kay Hagan’s indifference to Israel’s murderous assault against defenseless civilians in Gaza. And I would like to think that Hagan is now pondering that she should have shown more empathy for the Gaza victims. But I’m a bit skeptical of polls that say Sean Haugh took more votes from Hagan than from Tillis. The News & Observer posted a map of vote totals by county. In counties Hagan won, Haugh ran below his statewide average. But in counties Tillis won, Haugh ran above his statewide average. That suggests conservative voters were more willing than progressives to forgo the major party candidate in favor of a third party alternative.…..#US+SENATE

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