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Close Ohio Congressional Race Leads to Typically Tiresome Shaming of Third-Party Voters

No, the Green Party didn't "spoil" the Democrats' chance at a seat.

Joe ManchikJoe Manchik for CongressFor a little while Tuesday night, it looked like a Green Party candidate might spoil Democrat Danny O'Connor's chances of winning a special congressional election in Ohio's 12th District.

O'Connor does appear to be heading for a loss, but it looks like he would have lost whether or not Green candidate Joe Manchik was on the ballot. Manchik got 1,127 votes, a mere .6 percent of the total vote. With 100 percent of the precincts counted, O'Connor is losing by 1,754 votes. He'd still be losing even if all of Manchik's votes had gone to him instead. The race is close enough to not yet be called; there are still absentee and provisional ballots uncounted. O'Connor hasn't decided if he'll request a recount.

The stakes here are pretty low, since the winner will get the seat for only a couple of months; it'll be up for vote again in November. The big news is that the Democrat performed so well. In 2016, the Democratic nominee lost badly, getting just 26.8 percent of the vote; the district favored Trump by 11 points that year. Meanwhile, Manchik actually underperformed last night. When he ran as a Green in 2016, he got more than 13,000 votes, or 3.6 percent.

So to the extent that this foreshadows what will happen in November, the Democrats should be feeling fairly happy right now, even if O'Connor does end up losing. But the possibility that Manchik's votes might cover the spread between O'Connor and Republican Troy Balderson caused some heartburn among Democrats. The Green Party was actually trending on Twitter last night, thanks partly to some almost comically angry tweets:

The Washington Examiner has collected some more of them here. They boil down to a complaint that a third-party candidate has taken votes that somehow rightfully belong to the Democrats. Libertarian voters are familiar with such accusations, though usually they're accused of stealing votes from Republicans.

When Hillary Clinton lost there was quite a bit of bellyaching that Green Party nominee Jill Stein had taken votes from her. But that's not what really happened. The reality was that too many voters in too many pivotal electoral battlegrounds found Clinton such an uninspiring candidate that they didn't even vote for president.

People who think all those votes for Manchik would have gone to O'Connor had Manchik not been in the race really need to go look at and read his campaign site. Here's a short excerpt:

Other multinational corporations that own the Democratic-Republican Duopoly Party cabal are military industrial contractors, like Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, Boeing, General Electric and others that get BILLIONS of OUR tax dollars each year to finance and manufacture the weapons of war. Other examples include multinational oil corporations like BP, Shell and Exxon Mobil, that get BILLIONS of petrodollars when they go in and steal the oil and the gas from the innocent victims of the sovereign nations that the United States occupies. These are clearly some of the motives behind the many ugly wars that our out of control American government is in the business of creating today, in order to increase the corporate profits of the multinational corporations that own the Democratic-Republican Duopoly Party cabal, and because of this I am now truly ashamed of what America has become.

People who are attracted to these kinds of platforms are not fans of friends of the Democratic Party. They were probably never going to vote for O'Connor. They would probably not vote at all if Manchik weren't on the ballot.

And they're not going to be shamed into supporting candidates they don't like. Just because they're on the left side of the political spectrum doesn't make them the rightful property of the Democratic Party. If these people believe that Democrats and Republicans make up a "cabal," why on earth should they care if the Democrats regain control over the House? Major-party candidates keep saying their party needs to be in charge if these third-party voters are to get what they want. But that party has been in charge, and clearly some of these third-party voters did not get what they wanted.

Rather than being angry about third-party voters, the complainers need to grasp the fact that not all voters share their same priorities in the same degree. Back when the Libertarian Party was accused (incorrectly) of spoiling Republican Ken Cuccinelli's run for governor in Virginia, I wrote a primer to help the supporters of that "duopoly" Manchik complains about grasp exactly what drives third-party votes. Some of the same logic flaws are coming up again here. Don't assume that Green Party voters see the Democratic choice as the "lesser of two evils." Don't presume that you know these voters' priorities better than they themselves do. And try to make an actual case for your candidate, which these tweeters aren't doing, probably because they couldn't identify O'Connor out of a police line-up and only care about him or his positions to the extent that he can help give Democrats control of the House.

Photo Credit: Joe Manchik for Congress

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  • Uncle Jay||

    Yeah, what's wrong with all you third party voters?
    If you don't vote for an establishment republican or democrat, things will change.
    No insane person wants that.

  • Vandalia||

    We need more third/fourth/fifth party candidates. Not fewer.

  • JeffreyL||

    You will only ever see significant development and turnout above a two party system in parliamentary style systems. Victor takes all basically forces two party.

  • JFree||

    No winner-take-all doesn't force two-party.

    India has 37+ parties in its national legislature and even more represented in lower-level legislatures (some of the lower level may not be winnertakeall - idk)

    UK has 8 in its national legislature.

    The only countries with complete two-party domination are the US and a couple of small islands (Jamaica, Malta, etc)

    The reason the US is uniquely crappy re third-parties is because:
    1. we have the most unrepresentative legislature in the world which forces all challenging parties into the arms of big money in order to fund mass advertising in overly large districts. And big money likes a duop.

    2. we are the only democratic system that lets the existing political parties themselves determine the rules that any new/challenging parties have to follow to get access to elections - with courts that are completely subservient to the will of the parties. Everywhere else the 'right to run for office' is legally viewed as akin to the 'right to petition govt' so any restrictions are purely nominal.

    Combine those two - and the US is the cheapest govt in the world to buy - and once bought it stays bought.

  • Echospinner||

    I agree with that.

  • Wearenotperfect||

    "we are the only democratic system that lets the existing political parties themselves determine the rules that any new/challenging parties have to follow to get access to elections - with courts that are completely subservient to the will of the parties."

    Take, for example, Kevin McCormick from Arizona who was able to acquire more than the required petition signatures for the Governor primary but lo and behold was called out for having a significant amount of those signatures invalid because they were registered Republican voter signatures. So, although blame can be placed on the two party dictatorship for the rules regarding ballot access, my concern is this, dishonest politicians is one thing but dishonest constituents that know their signatures are not valid (because of their party affiliation) but sign the petition anyway just to sabotage a possible candidate is chicken shit! Oh well, you know what they say, "We live in a material world and I am a material girl, or boy!"

  • JFree||

    Even that set of rules is just the parties putting in rules as to what is a 'qualified' signature - and in that case so that they can foist off the blame to those candidates and voters themselves to know if they are 'qualified'.

    afaics, the number of 'qualified' signatures required for that office in AZ is somewhere between 3150 and 126,000. That is simply insane - at the LOW end. In the UK, you need 10 signatures to run for MP. There are virtually no countries that require more than 1000 or signatures for any office - and the only 'qualification' is that they are registered voters.

    We've signed treaties that explicitly acknowledge civil rights like (citizens shall have the right and opportunity without unreasonable restrictions to take part in the conduct of public affairs) - and perpetually lecture other countries on that stuff - while being the worst actual offender. In that specific case - China, Cuba, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Myanmar didn't sign - and that's it. Every single country we have invaded and put in election processes - incl Afghanistan and Iraq - has a more open ballot system than we have. We are corrupt hypocrites to our bones.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Go to Brazil. There are 32 fascist and communist parties there, all subsidized with tax money on the telescreen.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Hahaha, the Lefties never learn.

    HILLARY should have won!

  • GlenchristLaw||

    "Ralph Nader didn't cost Al Gore the election. Al Gore cost Al Gore the election." --Al Gore

  • Hunthjof||

    Yeah not winning your home state will do that.

  • General_Tso||

    So the democrats had a liberal and a lunatic to choose from, but I repeat myself.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Amen.
    I imagine a lot of those Green Party voters wouldn't have voted at all if there hadn't been a Green Party candidate.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Even if they did, and even if they would have all voted Democrat, it still strikes me as such a disgusting idea. Both that certain parties are owed a vote, and that people should only engage in power politics rather than voting for people they actually agree with.

  • Tony||

    Either a Democrat or a Republican is going to win the seat. They will enact the party's agenda in most cases.

    Why bother protest voting when you can spend that time getting some ice cream instead? At least that accomplishes something.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Voting for the candidate you most agree with is not a protest vote.

  • Tony||

    If that candidate doesn't have an (R) or (D) after his name, it's an exercise in self-love in a private booth you have to drive to. Why not just stay in your bedroom?

  • The Last American Hero||

    1) There is more than one item on the ballot - tax measures, other races, initiatives.
    2) If people voted their conscience, then maybe the party that loses would look at the post mortem data and say, "Wow, we lost a close one to the Dems, but we could have scooped up a few thousand Libertarian votes and swung this the other way if we didn't nominate a hardcore drug warrior that was good on spending." Feel Free to replace Dems with Repubs, Libertarian with Green, drug warrior with corporate shill and spending with environment.

  • Tony||

    Winners don't try to overthink the game. It's zero-sum, R vs. D. The end.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    I've voted in 10 presidential elections and never once did my vote go to a winner. I vote now to see if I can continue my unbroken streak.

  • Elilis Wyatt||

    Yeah, Carter., Mondale, Dukakis, Kerry and Gore are your speed.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    You got 20%

  • NoVaNick||

    Alyssa Milano would give me boners when I was 14-she has been a useless has-been since

  • Giant Realistic Flying Tiger||

    EVERY TIME I see that name, for about two seconds I think of a completely different quasi-celebrity. Could she please just get out of the news already?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    She drove voters to the Georgia district that had a special election.

    I wish that I lived in that district to get a ride and discuss Libertarianism the entire way. I would have a Libertopia boner the entire time.

  • John C. Randolph||

    Yeah, I lost interest in her once she got the bolt-ons. What a tragedy.

    -jcr

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Your one job as a candidate is to convince people to vote for you. Failure to do that is the candidate's fault.

  • Hank Phillips||

    So platforms have nothing to do with outcomes?

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Sure.

    But that doesn't change my statement.

  • Giant Realistic Flying Tiger||

    I gotta say that this is one of the few things that Hank Phillips gets right. He does constantly come off as deranged, and he spews insults at both sides (his schtick is similar to WCR's misnaming schtick), but his idea that "spoiler votes" influence policy is correct.

    I guarantee you, if the Greens got 10% of the vote in Ohio and the Dems lost by 3%, they'd shift towards environmentalism. If the Libertarians pulled 10% and the Repubs lost by 3%, they'd shift towards liberty. Maybe not by much in either case, but there'd be a shift.

  • John||

    The problem with that is that how many voters do they lose by doing that? Yeah, if the Dems want to give the Greens all they want, they will likely get more of their votes. But doing that will likely cost them more votes than they gain. The same is true of Republicans and Libertarians.

    Ultimately, they lost because they couldn't put together a winning coalition. Appealing to one group they didn't win might create a winning coalition but it might not. In fact, chances are it will not. If Green issues were popular with the rest of the electorate, there wouldn't be any need to have a Green party since the parties or at least one of them would already be running on the issue.

    Think about it, is there a third party "we need to spend more money" party? Not last I looked. Why is that? Because spending money is already popular and both parties already cater to it. If the Greens or Libertarians had popular ideas, they wouldn't need their own party.

  • Imissbuckley||

    "Think about it, is there a third party "we need to spend more money" party?"

    Yes in fact its called the Green Party.

    Moreover, its less about "spending more money" than it is about spending "priorities." The Democratic candidate moving Right (or further Right) to embrace Republican voters and their spending priorities could also have led to a greater loss of liberal voters and perhaps the Green Candidate picking up even more votes.

  • John||

    Yes and moving left to pick up the Green party would have lost votes too. That is the entire point. The bottom line is that if the Green party had popular ideas, there wouldn't be a need to have a third party to advance them.

  • Imissbuckley||

    Or by speaking to those voters and their problems he could've won their votes without losing the ones he already gained. I don't think the real lesson here is an ideological one. I think Donald Trump proved that voters aren't all that ideological. I think the real lesson here may have been picking a candidate who actually has the ability to appeal to voters regardless of ideology.

    I'm not sure if O'Connor was a boring drone like John Kerry or completely unlikable like Hillary Clinton, (or that he just ran a shitty campaign), but if any of those are true, then I'm not sure "moving" to the Right would've helped him. Case in point, Democrats have run plenty of "Republican-lite" candidates in red districts and red states over the years and still lost.

  • NoVaNick||

    In 2013, the Libertarian candidate for governor in Virginia was blamed for the GOP candidate losing. So far, the Virginia Republican Party has definitely NOT become more libertarian.

  • The Last American Hero||

    The hope is that they will learn their lesson. The reality is that they lose and go "We just didn't run a REAL TEAM MEMBER (tm)".

  • Hank Phillips||

    Translation: I can neither subtract nor divide, but I nevertheless am the ultimate authority on how Virginia Republicans adapt to a changing environment.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""And they're not going to be shamed into supporting candidates they don't like."'

    People that do that are self centered and think you are wrong for not voting the way they wanted you to. They are basically shaming you for doing what you should be doing, which is voting for the candidate you like.

  • NoVaNick||

    I have been considering for a while now whether I should UNregister as a voter, given that voting LP or for any other third party candidate is almost always a waste of time. I like to think that if they get enough votes, people will take notice, but know that they will never actually win.

  • The Last American Hero||

    It probably will lower your chance of getting sent to re-education camp.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Anyone too dumb to understand the law-changing clout of spoiler votes is at best a liability in any case. I second the motion by a magnitude of order that this particular sockpuppet loudly abstain from voting and switch to the Green Party.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    But it HAD to be the Russians! There's no other possible explanation! They couldn't get me of course, I'm too smart for them! And I went to drama school so I'm obviously superior to those flyover country hicks!

  • Tony||

    only care about him or his positions to the extent that he can help give Democrats control of the House.

    Oh, the shame of it all. Wanting to actually win. Why, everyone knows the only way to be a truly good citizen is to lose all the elections so you can spend all your time bitching about everything.

    Nader voters were working for Bush. Stein voters were working for Trump. You can work for something and be too dumb to know that's what you're doing. The math is so simple that nobody should have voted 3rd party after 2000. Well, ever, if they could comprehend the concept of a winner-take-all election in America.

    Maybe the handful of people voting for the Green guy wouldn't have shown up otherwise. I say the Democratic party test that theory and Guido the shit out of spoiler candidates so that they are persuaded not to run in the first place.

  • Imissbuckley||

    Or Democrats could run better candidates who know how to speak to those voters and their issues. Nationally the Ds ran Gore in 00 and Kerry in 04, both are candidates who were derided for failing to speak to progressive voters and their issues, they were also seen as completely lacking charisma. Then you ran Obama in 08 and 12, a candidate who excited your base and turned out new voters and won. Then your party ran Clinton one of the most polarizing candidates ever, who was hated by both the Left and the Right, with not many in the Center liking her either, and you lost. I recall a Bill Clinton campaign staffer saying something to this effect back in the 90s that "its easier to change your candidates than it is to change the voters." Run better candidates and the voters may vote for your party,

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Voting for a Democrat or a Republican doesn't accomplish anything if you're a Green or a Libertarian. I tried it and I learned the hard way. As soon as said Democrat or Republican gets into office and you remind them of their promise to take your views into consideration, they laugh and tell you to go fuck yourself.

  • Elilis Wyatt||

    Like Trump's promise to pay off the federal debt in 8 years? (lol)

  • JFree||

    Hey - agreeing that third party voters are the root of all evil in the US today is pretty much the only thing the duops can agree on and make actionable.

    Why do you hate bipartisanship so much?

  • Cynical Asshole||

    But the possibility that Manchik's votes might cover the spread between O'Connor and Republican Troy Balderson caused some heartburn among Democrats.

    "All your votes are belong to us."

  • CDRSchafer||

    I've seen toddlers crying because they lost at balloon toss taking matter more maturely than Democrats losing elections. Everyone else's fault other than their crappy candidates and their stupid issues.

  • Tony||

    This may end up being an extremely narrow loss for the Democrat, but it's hardly good news for the Republicans.

  • JesseAz||

    Off cycle special election. Let's put the chips all in based on this outcomes said no prognosticator ever.

  • Elilis Wyatt||

    So, you agree that Trump was no help at all, and may have even hurt Balderson with his racist attack on Lebron, an Ohio hero.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Platforms aren't shoes in politics. A platform is a document where Republicans and National Socialists promise to deport people and help priests and bigots bully and coerce women, or where Democrats and Ecological National Socialists promise to make electricity scarce, expensive and unreliable. The Libertarian Platform of 1972, before looters began with the osmosis of infiltration, promised to reverse the socialist laws enacted through looter party spoiler votes since 1848. It is a thing of beauty.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Winning is losing.

    War is peace.

  • JesseAz||

    It's amazing how these off cycle special elections are such truth tellers of future events. You should become a pollsters.

  • vek||

    The truth is that this was almost certainly a turnout thing. The Dems are all hopped up. I think in the real elections in November both sides are going to be all hopped up though. Primaries, special elections, etc never draw the numbers that even regular mid terms do. With both sides seeing this one as being so pivotal I bet there will be very high turnout on both sides. As of the last time I looked Rs were still trending upwards in the generic ballot versus several months ago. We'll see how it goes.

  • vek||

    LOL Wishful thinking.

    Way to pick the highest gap in Dems favor. The average is only 5%, lead, but several show no lead for the Dems. More importantly however, look at the trend since the tail end of last year. It ebbs and flows as things do, but the Rs have been on a steadily upward trajectory. More importantly the Dems are simply in a strategically weak place. Their seats are up for grabs, most Rs aren't even facing election. So it could go any which way.

    https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/ 2018_generic_congressional_vote-6185.html

  • josh||

    I've always love Alyssa Milano. But it's never been because of her mind.

  • crufus||

    We should outlaw 3rd parties to prevent them from stealing votes that rightfully belong to major party candidates.

  • NoVaNick||

    Well they do make it extremely difficult for third party candidates to get on the ballot, and even more so to participate in debates, so they might as well outlaw them.

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    And the GOP slate got about 60,000 more total votes than all the candidates on the Democrat slate. If the Team Blue turnout was really 90% in an off-year special election, and they still got outvoted by the Republican voters, they have no prayer.

  • JFree||

    It's pretty easy to show election fraud. But the people who engage in it are almost exclusively serious partisan activists - NOT regular Janes/Joes. Which is why neither party has the slightest interest in actually stopping it - just in making sure they 'agree' on where they will engage in it and where they won't. And the voting system weakness they both use is mail-in ballots.

    And hey your 'reports' for turnout are apparently only off by 200% - 42% as the high in the main Dem county not 90%.

    So at what point do you admit you're just a partisan hack spreading manure around? My guess - GOP has good reason to be worried for that election in Nov - when turnout will likely go well above 42%

  • Elilis Wyatt||

    Never underestimate Trumpers' ability to invent lame excuses for his failures. The only one missing in Ohio (so far) and Missouri is fraudulent voting by Muslims, as financed by George Soros and the Clinton Foundation.

  • vek||

    I remember that good ol' election, it was one of the first ones I ever voted in! I voted for Dino too.

    Turnout will be the whole game in November. Let us hope the right is fired up. I don't think it will happen, but if Trump gets to 60+ votes in the senate I think he will try to pass some truly crazy reforms.

  • Elilis Wyatt||

    What interests me in this are the reports that the turn-out of registered Dems was 90%!

    What interests me is that you swallowed such obvious bullshit by Alex Jones! All sorts of excuses for Trump's failure, as always. Balderson was +1% on the latest polls before Trump, the same number as now. It was the turnout by independents -- you know this was not a primary? -- that swamped Trump-endorsed candidates in Ohio and Missouri. in,.

    Ohio total turnout was the lowest in rural precincts, where GOP registration is highest. Exit polls show GOP women backing away in both Ohio and Missouri. With no Hillary hatred, Trump's 2016 votes were 20% amti-Hillary, the biggest anti vote for any President since they began tracking that.

    Partisan turnout has not been released. But Obama is a Kenyan. And Benghazi,

  • Azathoth!!||

    I'm not sure how you spin 'Our guy lost even when the other side didn't turn out' as a win, but good for you.

  • Azathoth!!||

    As, so that's how you spin 'Our guy lost even when the other side didn't turn out' into a win.

    Whatever makes you happy.

    Loser.

  • Jerryskids||

    So when will we have a special prosecutor investigating outsiders attempting to influence this election? Seems to me a lot of people from New York and California are meddling in other states' elections that aren't any of their business.

  • Hank Phillips||

    People vote with integrity instead of caving to the entrenched kleptocracy because they know their spoiler votes have many times the law-changing clout. The problem in Ohio is that the Econazis want to cripple power generation the way prohibitionists want to suppress meth labs. Green econaziism never got any votes other than in y2k when Tennessee rejected Gore, and has since collapsed in These States. Greens have as much clout here as communists in Russia, where their vote share is fast decaying. But the LP growing along a Fisher-Pry replacement curve will make Whig or Federalist relics out of looter factions unless those politicians scramble to cut spending and repeal superstitious laws.

  • vek||

    We really do need to do SOMETHING to rework our shitty system to get more 3rd parties in. I have faith that even though we would have more Greens, Socialists, etc get into office too, that it would bring more libertarian and other right thinking people in than extra crazy lefties.

    There are a lot of interesting theoretical ways to do it. I think ranked choice voting in some forms is pretty cool. But I'm not holding my breath for anything...

  • Hank Phillips||

    Have you ever considered casting a vote for a libertarian candidate? Fewer than 4000 such votes (and 1 electoral vote) pressured the Supreme Court to copy Roe v Wade from the LP platform. Today we cast 4 million. If these are insignificant, wasted and without effect, why are the jackbooted minions of Christian National Socialism so worked up over them?

  • vek||

    Uhhh, I have ever since I turned 18... I've never voted for a Democrat OR Republican for president. Ever. I even voted for Gay Jay last time!

    I often vote Libertarian even in local elections, because the truly local ones a Democrat will win either way. Mostly I've voted Republican for state offices where they actually have a shot, and the Libertarian clearly doesn't. So there ya go.

  • Azathoth!!||

    I always vote for the most libertarian candidate out there.

    It's not an issue for me that there's usually an 'R' after their name.

    And I don't see why it would be an issue for the LP--given that their ticket is frequently comprised of people who failed at getting the 'R' nod.

  • vek||

    Yup. The people that delude themselves into thinking any Democrat, EVER in 2018 is even possibly the most libertarian candidate are smoking crack. Back 30-40 years ago there may have been a few districts where that was the case. When the SoCons were more hardcore on the R side, and there were fiscally conservative Democrats. But no longer.

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