Election 2018

New Poll Shows Inclusion of Libertarian Candidate Helpful to Claire McCaskill in Toss-up Missouri

With Japheth Campbell in the survey, Claire McCaskill Has a 4-point advantage over Josh Hawley in new Marist College poll of likely voters. Without? Dead heat.


Big cup. ||| Campbell4Liberty.com

I have been arguing this summer, again and again, that you can't have accurate data about the status of a November 2018 electoral contest—particularly a close one!—if you don't poll Libertarians who are also on the ballot. Today a Marist College poll in Missouri demonstrates why.

The contest between incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and Republican state Attorney General Josh Hawley in this Trump +19 state has long been seen as perhaps the pivotal race in determining partisan control over the Senate. It is universally rated by forecasters as a toss-up. Indeed, as Marist found when polling the two choices among 568 likely Missouri voters, it's a dead heat: 47 percent each, with five percent undecided.

But those are not the only two candidates on the ballot. When Marist included Libertarian Party nominee Japheth Campbell and the Green Party's Jo Crain, McCaskill opened up a four-point lead: 44 percent to Hawley's 40 percent, with 6 percent for Campbell, 3 percent for Crain, and 8 percent undecided. (A fifth candidate, the independent centrist Craig O'Dear, qualified for the ballot just last week.)

Yet this is, to date, the only Missouri Senate poll since Hawley won the GOP primary last month to include third-party candidates. Polls that include only the Democrat and the Republican are producing actively misleading information.

So is there a theory for why voters when given the expanded and more accurate choice would disproportionately walk away from Josh Hawley? Sure. Campbell, who grew up a conservative Christian preacher's kid, is a former Republican and current minister who says of himself, "I am personally a moral conservative and politically a libertarian." He beats up Hawley from the right on budgets, economics, and guns. Campbell is pro-life, supports Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and—days before the GOP primary—encouraged Republican voters to support former 2016 Libertarian Party presidential candidate Austin Petersen, a "person I call a friend."

Petersen, who came in third place with 8.3 percent (to Hawley's 58.6), has not officially endorsed in the race, telling me today that he was "the only Republican who explicitly did not pledge to support the nominee during the one debate that was held preprimary," and that "I have met with Hawley's people once and had a discussion with them about some policy issues I was concerned about. I have not heard from them recently. I have not heard from Japheth Campbell directly yet. Craig O'Dear has reached out to meet but I am out of town until the 13th. I am supporting conservative or libertarian leaning Republicans around the state who I am comfortable with because we campaigned together. I have explicitly endorsed [gubernatorial candidate] Larry Sharpe in New York."

But Campbell's six percent showing—and remember, the tendency for third-party poll numbers is to overshoot the eventual result by around one-third—may have less to do with Petersen, or even Campbell himself. After all, the last time Claire McCaskill ran for re-election, Libertarian Jonathan Dine received 6.1 percent, one of the 10 best finishes for a Senate candidate the party has ever seen. Dine also received 3 percent of the vote running against eventual winner Roy Blunt in 2010 (while the Constitution Party's Jerry Beck got 2.1 percent); and then 2.4 percent for that same seat in 2016. The L.P.'s Frank Gilmour got 2.2 percent running against McCaskill in 2006.

It could just be that "Libertarian" is its own established identity, minor but growing, and that Missouri voters who are attracted to that identity would otherwise lean a bit more Republican if not presented with other options.

At the moment, Hawley is reportedly trying to keep Campbell and Crain out the candidate debates in the run-up to November, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune:

One sticking point for whether Hawley agrees to debates will be the presence of other candidates on the November ballot. The Missouri Press Association debate [Sept. 14] will include independent candidate Craig O'Dear and two minor party candidates, Libertarian Japheth Campbell and Green Party nominee Jo Crain.

"Claire welcomes having other candidates on the ballot participate," [spokesman Eric] Mee wrote.

Hawley, however, said he wants a clear shot at McCaskill.

"The voters deserve to hear from the two of us," Hawley said. "She is the one who is the incumbent, she's got this job, she wants to get hired again. She should defend her record, I am her challenger, I want to debate her person to person, face to face."

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  1. It’s funny when someone wins with a simple plurality rather than a majority. Though I’m sure that’s considered a mandate regardless.

    1. Last I looked there was no difference between winning by one vote or a million. The powers of being a Senator are the same.

      1. A true libertarian Senator would refuse to take his seat, Sinn Fein style, out of a refusal to swear allegiance to the Constitution as long as it contains the 17th Amendment.

        1. Here’s the text of the 17th amendment:

          The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.

          When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

          Here is what a straight repeal of the 17th amendment would revert the constitution to:

          Article 1 Section 3:

          The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

          … and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.

          I fail to see how repeal of the 17th amendment creates a result that a libertarian would consider a significant improvement over the 17th amendment.

          1. Someone passionate about this will have to chime in. As I’m always saying, I’ve long been on the opposite extreme (within limited-government enthusiasts) of the Ron Paul/Mises Institute extremist subsidiarists; I’m generally a rather weak one. I see the appeal of a 17A repeal, but I’m mostly neutral. I was just making a lighthearted joke.

          2. I can: had we been using the original system, the Republicans would have had at least a 60-40 majority in the Senate the past two years, and the Democrats probably wouldn’t have controlled the Senate in 2010.

            Obamacare wouldn’t have seen the light of day.

            1. Sure. Because all of the state legislature races would have turned out exactly the same had there been no 17th amendment. Right?

          3. I think the original design for the Senate served to slow the accretion of power to the federal government. Because states had the power to resist growing hegemony from the feds by directly instructing their senators to vote accordingly. The more dispersed power is, the better it is from a libertarian point of view IMO.

            1. That’s great in theory. But in practice, by the 1910s, the federal govt had already become so powerful relative to the states, that the most important issue in state legislature elections was who the legislator would vote for in the Senate election. So you already had semi-direct election of senators even before the 17th amendment.

              Much like our presidential elections are primarily about SCOTUS nominations, because SCOTUS basically runs the country at this point, with no term limits, no reelections, and no meaningful checks and balances against them. Not what the founders intended, obviously.

    2. I’ll grant that McCaskill’s no supermodel, but I think calling it a mandate with her is too harsh.

      1. Given the slanders on Ron DeSantis, it’s pretty safe to say that if Phil Scott even utters the word “mandate” during his reelection campaign, he’ll be accused of transphobic dog whistling.

        Though fuck it, I hope he loses–and I don’t say that casually. Kelly Ayotte his ass, Vermont!

        1. I can’t honestly claim to know what “Kelly Ayotte-ing someone’s ass” means, but I nonetheless feel no hesitation in expressing my support for the promulgation thereof.

          1. He he. I suppose the reality may be a bit disappointing, but New Hampshire libertarians (and I use the lower case quite deliberately) more or less openly worked explicitly to defeat her 2016 reelection and encouraged like-minded people to use the LP candidate as a protest vote; they flat out celebrated when the Democrat won. They considered her so worthless that they thought getting a Democrat for six years was worth sending a clear message to “moderate” Republicans that such blatant RINOism will not be tolerated by the public in the future. And like I said, I am normally a staunch lesser-of-two-evils-no-matter-how-great guy who normally has very little sympathy for that sort of sentiment but in that circumstance–and Phil Scott’s–I make an exception.

            1. I just hope they’re prepared. Taking a RINO to someone’s ass without weeks of loosening exercises and proper lube etiquette can cause significant damage to a relationship, and other things.

              1. I’m just happy we’re finally openly becoming the new Bad Dragon forum.

    3. Its not funny. Its just plain wrong. Which is why we need to replace plurality voting with Ranked Choice Voting. The winner in an RCV election always wins with a majority of all votes still active in the final round.

  2. This is news? The Libertarian candidate takes away R voters and the Green party takes away D voters.

    1. it does not fit the libertarian self image that they are squarely in the middle of the American political debate.

  3. Japheth Campbell

    Please tell me you misspelled his name.

    1. It’s biblical.

      1. *It’th

  4. That’s why the Libertarian needs to drop out. So the Republican can carry out the libertarian agenda.

    1. No spoilers we can’t have stupid libertarian candidates running this election far United States of America

  5. Horse trade: 1 Missouri Libertarian for 1 New Mexico Republican.

  6. Libertarians: helping elect Democrats since 1968.

    I realized this waaay back in 2000, when I voted for every eligible Libertarian candidate in my area, only to realize that had i been living in Florida at the time I might have helped elect Al Gore.

    1. And that would have been so terrible, right?

      I mean, thank heavens we got Bush instead, who gave us a very ill-advised war in Iraq, an endless war in Afghanistan, the revival of torture and indefinite detention as official government policy, and the oh-so-patriotic USA PATRIOT Act.

      What would the Al Gore of 2000 have given us? Basically Bill Clinton’s third term, minus the sexcapades. We probably still would have endless war in Afghanistan and probably domestic surveillance too. Perhaps some environmental bullshit or health care bullshit. But then again it was George Bush who signed into law the lightbulb ban and who gave us Medicare Part D. Neither one of them would have done anything serious about the debt or government spending.

      I very proudly voted for Harry Browne in 2000 because I could see that both Bush and Gore were nearly indistinguishable.

      1. Huh, you’re older than I thought.

      2. “And that would have been so terrible, right?”

        For Second Amendment supporters, it would have been a disaster.

        George Bush gave us Samuel Alito and John Roberts on the Supreme Court. Those two cast the deciding votes in the Heller and McDonald decisions; based on Bill’s two nominees it’s highly unlikely anyone nominated by Gore would have been willing to support gun rights.

        The Supreme Court is the main reason I held my nose and voted for Trump, and he has not disappointed me in that regard. His two picks for Supreme Court seats are vastly superior on gun rights to anyone Hillary Clinton would have given us. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Donald Trump has saved the RKBA for the foreseeable future.

        1. First, Roberts and Alito were nominated in Bush’s second term. Al Gore winning one term would not have meant he would have won a second.

          Secondly, even if we presume Al Gore would have gotten 2 SCOTUS picks, they might have been worse for gun rights, but they would have been better in things like torture and domestic surveillance.

          You can’t be pro-liberty if you are only willing to stick up for the liberty that you yourself care about.

        2. The Supreme Court is the main reason I held my nose and voted for Trump

          Based on all your other comments, I don’t believe you. I think you actually buy into Trump’s xenophobia and hysteria against foreigners.

  7. A “toss up” in a state won by Trump by 19? This is why the GOP might be whistling through the graveyard as the mid-terms approach. Two years of gridlock and what happens if RBG croaks?

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