Campaigns/Elections

Libertarian Party in Midterms: Not Surprisingly Great, Not Surprisingly Bad

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So went the overall assessment of Wes Benedict in a quick interview tonight. Benedict is currently executive director of the L.P.'s National Committee, and in my experience tends to be calm and measured in his assessment of L.P. possibilities, rarely anticipating results much better than the Party actually gets.

Benedict says tonight they have not yet added up whole numbers to be sure whether they achieved the midterm record vote total that third party data maven Richard Winger predicted, or how they did in comparison with the last midterm election in general. He was pleased by the relatively impressive numbers for Sean Haugh for Senate in North Carolina and for Adrian Wyllie for governor in Florida—over 120,000 raw votes for Wyllie—and disappointed that Kathie Glass for governor in Texas didn't do better (her percentage actually dipped from her last run for governor).

Benedict and I shared surprise over the over-4-percent showing of a candidate on neither of our radar screens, Vermont's Dan Feliciano for governor. (Feliciano pushed  the result to the state legislature, with neither major party candidate winning a majority.)

Benedict knows of a few states where some candidate did well enough to guarantee ballot access for the L.P. next time around, likely including Maryland and North Dakota, which is very important for a party that otherwise has to spend lots of money and time just to appear on the ballot.

He says he has not yet begun to get any hate mail accusing the L.P. of having "spoiled" Ed Gillespie's Virginia Senate seat for the GOP via Robert Sarvis, but expects he might start to by tomorrow morning.

Benedict looks to things like the great results for some marijuana legalization initiatives to be assured that at least parts of the libertarian message are resonating with more and more Americans.

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  1. If Gillespie couldn’t close the deal for those who voted for Sarvis, that’s not Sarvis’ fault.

    1. I’m on Sarvis’ Facebook page, and the butthurt is strong with the Team-Red types this morning.

  2. On the plus side, Hammer (who I voted for) won 12.4% of the vote, beating the Dem candidate.

    I wonder if this is a best for a (L) in a federal election? They always seem to draw sub 5%.

    Also, Gillespie wasn’t expected to win anyway. The fact that it’s as close as it is tells me that Sarvis’ presence in the election really will have little to do with Gillespie’s defeat (close elections nearly always go Dem, they have a miraculous ability to “find” votes in recounts, so I’m calling it for Warner).

    It is interesting to note that the difference between Warner and Gillespie is nearly the same as the number of people who voted for Hammer in the 6th. If all those people voted a straight L ticket and it can be proven they are likely R voters, one might be able to make the argument Sarvis spoiled the election. Might. We’ll see.

    1. Looks like Sarvis drew 50,000+ votes. Who from though?

      1. When he ran for governor he apparently drew mostly Dems (because, let’s face it, he’s a LINO), I suspect the same may be true this time and that Sarvis actually drew the margin between Warner and Gillespie closer than it otherwise would have been.

        1. Strangely, I think the exit polling this time around leaned to Sarvis pulling more conservative-ish votes. Not wholly but moreso than in the gubernatorial race.

          Got into the “Sarvis is a Dem stooge” debate last night with an old colleague (who is a VA GOP operative). I love and respect the guy but I kept saying, “you want those liberty voters, start running GOP candidates that respect all forms of liberty.” I fail to see how a pro-school choice, pro-2A, anti-Ocare, anti-tax Sarvis amounts to a Dem stooge. I guess wanting gubmint out of the marriage business does it in the GOP’s eyes.

  3. Here in Michigan, I *wanted* to vote Libertarian, but only one of the candidated even bothered to put up a website. I know, there are other ways to find out about someone but in 2014 does anyone who can’t even put up a website expect me to think they will be an effective leader?

    1. If you really wanted to vote Libertarian you could have for most of the partisan offices appearing on your ballot (and ALL state-wide offices). The lack of a website wouldn’t be an obstacle to voting… if your statement were true.

      The fact of the matter is that several of our candidates had websites of their own, and others used free website templates via a service called “democracy.com.”

      Here is a link to our candidate page that includes links to websites. Now that the election is over, many of these sites will likely be taken down or modified in the near future:

      http://michiganlp.org/?page_id=33

  4. Here in Florida I had the pleasure of filling in the oval for a handful of LP candidates. I got to enjoy the squirming on the Governor’s race as our candidate more than covered the difference between the two candidates.

    There was a distinct feeling that all of these LP “spoiler” candidates would start getting some attention for LP issues.

    ….. aaaaand then reality set in. From the handful of major news sites I have visited, they don’t even show the third party candidates on their election results. So you see something like Winner(R) 47%, Loser(D) 46%. Where’d the other 7% go? No clue. Must have been a mistake . Doesn’t really exists.

    1. I noted that, too. There seemed to be an awful number of elections that either named a Libertarian candidate, who got about 4%, or where there was no third-party mentioned…and the gap was again about 4%.

      Another thing; Polling data on who those who didn’t vote for halves of the duopoly would have voted for if forced to (in other words, who they drew from) or if said voter would have even voted at all (meaning engaged at all).

  5. In Illinois, one LP candidate came in just under the 5% hurdle for a statewide race, which if I recall correctly gets you the same lower level of ballot access requirements (i.e., requires many fewer petitions) as the major parties. The LP of Illinois has been trying to breech that 5% for — what? – four decades now?
    With 99.6% in, Julie Fox has 4.78%. Shucks.
    Thanks for trying, Julie.

  6. Not Surprisingly Great, Not Surprisingly Bad

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  7. I voted for Glass this time around. (I went for Bill White in ’10 because I thought he had a fighting chance against Rick Roosevelt.) But I agree, I was hoping for something better than 1%. Too many GOP sheeple in Texas, if you ask me.

    1. I voted for Glass as well. Honestly, I think Wendy Davis cut such an atrocious figure down here that Abbott received not just die-hard RED votes but independents of many stripes just to give Wendy the finger.

      Personally, I took pleasure in voting for Glass to give the GOP the finger knowing that my schadenfreude over Davis getting trounced was safely assured regardless.

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  9. Barry Hess ran for Gov of AZ, apparently I was 1 of 550 who voted for him, I think it said that was 3% of the vote. Looks like Kirkpatrick won reelection…

  10. I find this article embarrassing and others like it, such as the cover of Reason asking if Gary Johnson win 1% of the vote. 5% of the vote means we are irrelevant. It says Libertarians suck at selling our philosophy to the general public. There should be no back patting when we lose, and we lost big.

  11. Libertarian Candidates in Washington election results for last night:
    Steven Nielson Dist. 2- 28.10%
    Paul Delaney Dist. 3- 28.99%
    James Apker Dist. 7- 20.79%
    The Real Michael Scott Dist. 10- 22.56%
    Dave Steenson Dist. 19- 32.44%
    Eli Olson Dist. 38- 31.54%
    Paul Addis Dist. 36- 14.85%
    Tim Turner Dist. 48- 31.69%

  12. Dude. You’re celebrating a barely mid 20% vote total. And in a wave election year for change. Bleak by definition.

  13. How many Libertarians were elected this cycle to partisan office?

    The Libertarian Party is just another name for Poseur Central.

  14. On November 4, the Libertarian Party did poll 1,500,000 votes for the offices at the top of the ballot, which is the highest number of votes ever received by any third party in a midterm year for the office at the top of the ballot. “Top office” is defined to be Governor, in states that had a gubernatorial election. In the other states, it is U.S. Senate. In the 5 states that had neither Governor nor US Senator up, it is the office that actually was at the top of the ballot…US House in North Dakota and Washington, Sec of State in Indiana, Auditor in Missouri, and Attorney General in Utah.

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