Libertarian Party

In Arizona, Libertarian Party Senate Candidate Polls at 15 Percent

Marc Victor is gaining ground with a “live and let live” message.


Are Americans getting tired of the "choice" between dictatorial Democrats and control-freakish Republicans? Many of us would like to think so, and evidence from the crucial Arizona U.S. Senate race suggests that at least some voters are looking for an option that doesn't represent a competing brand of authoritarianism. In that contest, Libertarian Party nominee Marc Victor is polling at 15 percent and may get a further boost from his appearance in a well-timed televised debate.

"Live and let live. That's my position on every issue," Marc Victor introduced himself during his opening statement at the October 6 debate, which was broadcast by PBS. "Live your life however you choose, just let other people do the same thing. My name is Marc J. Victor, and if you're tired of the same old politics, I'm your guy. I'm a proud Marine Corps combat veteran, and for the last 28 years, I've been thinking outside the box as a criminal defense attorney."

In a phone conversation this week, Victor expressed disappointment that he didn't get as much airtime as incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly (the Democrat in the race) and Republican challenger Blake Masters. But his appearance was enough for The New York Times to note "he held his ground Thursday night, insisting that the moderator allow him to answer all the same questions as Mr. Kelly and Mr. Masters."

"There could be a receptive audience for that message," Jennifer Medina and Jack Healy added for the Times. "Roughly a third of Arizona's voters are not registered as Republicans or Democrats, and many view themselves as moderates or describe themselves as leaning libertarian."

In appealing to those voters, Victor, who also represented the Libertarian Party in the 2012 Senate race ultimately won by Republican Jeff Flake, emphasized the inclusive "live and let live" message with which he opened. By comparison, Kelly and Masters spent much of the debate redefining their political identities: Kelly, by trying to distance himself from his party's positions on immigration and border policy; and Masters, by attempting to put some daylight between his campaign and his earlier support for a national ban on abortion and his party's claims of a rigged 2020 election.

Victor is adamant that his approach contrasts well not just with the messages of Republicans and Democrats, but with ineffective messaging by libertarians in the past.

"We have the best message," Victor told me. "There's absolutely no question in my mind that if you are interested in freedom, in peace, in raising standards of living, we have the right message. So, I sit and scratch my head and say I've been a libertarian 30 years, why are we still in the minority?"

"We start by saying 'I'm for legalized meth' and 'fuck the government,'" he continued. "Things that just turn people off. So, my mission, as a libertarian, has been to reboot the libertarian message. And I've done that, I've reformatted it into what I call the live-and-let-live message."

Ironically, one prominent Libertarian Party figure was turned off anyway. During the debate, Victor complained that "our big problem with voting is that everything is up for a vote" and pointed to age of consent laws along with legislative representation as examples of the few issues that should be subject to political decision making. In response, Dave Smith, widely considered a contender for the 2024 Libertarian Party presidential nomination as part of the now-dominant Mises Caucus, endorsed one of Marc Victor's opponents.

"JFC," tweeted Smith. "This guy is a clown who has absolutely nothing to do with us. He went outside the party and got the signatures to be on the ballot. Stupid AZ laws. I support Masters."

"If you want to see what's wrong with the Libertarian Party, look at what's going on now," Victor told me of Smith's attack, and the prominent Mises Caucus figure's support for the very unlibertarian Masters (at last month's National Conservatism Conference in Miami, Blake Masters sniped "Libertarianism doesn't work"). "This is the kind of chaos that we need to get away from, and it only makes me want to separate from the Libertarian Party."

Victor isn't alone in his doubts about the Libertarian Party. The Mises Caucus takeover prompted New Mexico's state Libertarian Party to break away from the national organization, and the Virginia chapter moved to dissolve itself after the state central committee complained that the national organization was "functionally indistinct from other alt-right parties and movements."

But, while Marc Victor is concerned about the political party, he hasn't lost faith in libertarian ideas.

"I'm putting out a very hardcore, pro-libertarian position in a very agreeable, non-threatening kind of a way," he told me of his efforts through the campaign, which he intends to continue with a separate Live and Let Live organization. "I think the future of this movement, whether you want to call it classical liberalism, the enlightenment, libertarianism, voluntaryism, anarcho-capitalism, whatever, I think it will be live-and-let-live-ism and that's what I'm trying to promote."

Arizonans, at least, seem receptive to that message.

"If the elections were held today, incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly sits at 46% support among likely voters, Republican Blake Masters at 33%, and Libertarian Marc Victor at 15%," reports the Arizona Public Opinion Pulse Poll conducted by OH Predictive. 

"Victor's 9% jump from the previous poll in early September, highly driven by Republican support, could be due to Blake Masters' struggle with his candidate image among likely voters," add pollsters.

The latest poll was conducted from October 4–6, mostly before the televised debate took place. That means we'll have to wait for the next poll to get a better idea of the debate's impact on the Senate race. The appearance should raise his profile, but third-party candidates tend to show up better in polling than they do on Election Day. Still, ballots are already being mailed to voters, and 89 percent of voters chose to vote early during the 2020 general election. That means Marc Victor may be gaining prominence at just the right moment to maximize support in a race that could decide control of the currently evenly divided U.S. Senate. 

Beyond the election, while he's unlikely to take his message to that legislative body, Marc Victor intends to keep promoting live-and-let-live as a value long after the votes are counted.