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Libertarian Gubernatorial Candidates Making Things Harder for…Democrats?

The scant evidence available suggests that inclusion of Libertarians in polls improves slightly the competitiveness of Republican candidates

Phil Anderson ||| Phil AndersonPhil AndersonWisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, once considered America's most effective conservative reformer at the statehouse level, is fighting for his political life. A Marquette University poll released last week of 799 likely Wisconsin voters showed the two-term incumbent holding on to a rail-thin advantage over Democrat Tony Evers, 47 percent to 46 percent. Far above that one-point margin sat Libertarian Party nominee Phil Anderson, at 5 percent.

Is this not the perfect example of what George Mason University economics professor Daniel B. Klein meant Monday when he argued that "The LP helps the Democrat Party," and therefore "reduces liberty"? Not so fast.

Anderson has been included thus far in five non-partisan polls, averaging 4.4 percent to Evers's 47.4 and Walker's 44.6. Only one of those surveys, a Sept. 30-Oct. 3 effort from NBC News and Marist College, asked respondents both with and without the Libertarian as a choice (as well as Green Party candidate Michael White). Given options that more clearly resembled the actual ballot (albeit minus independent candidate Maggie Turnbull), voters defected more from the Democrat: 53 percent to 50 percent, compared to the 43-42 point leakage for Scott Walker. Anderson pulled three percent, White two percent.

With the important caveat that the overall amount of evidence is exceedingly small, this trend plays out in the other gubernatorial elections for which we have comparative polling data about third-party inclusion effects.

Familiar with Gary Johnson's tailor, I see. ||| Jared4gov.comJared4gov.comNevada, whose governor's race is almost universally rated as a toss-up, includes a solid Libertarian candidate named Jared Lord competing against Democrat Steve Sisolak and Republican Adam Laxalt. In the four nonpartisan polls that have included him, Lord is pulling 4.8 percent, compared to Sisolak's 40.8 percent and Laxalt's 40.5. In the one poll that asked both with and without the Libertarian, Laxalt's one-percentage-point margin of 46-45 widened to four points (44-40 percent) when voters were given more choice. (Lord received a healthy 8 percent among likely voters.)

In Minnesota, Democrat Tim Walz had a 55 percent to 38 percent lead over Republican Jeff Johnson in a recent NBC News/Marist College poll when surveyors left Libertarian Josh Welter out of it, but that shrank to 51-36 after 6 percent of likely voters chose the Welter option. (The average of the three polls that include both Welter and Legal Marijuana Now nominee Chris Wright: Walz 47.3 percent, Johnson 39.3 percent, Welter 2.8 percent, Wright 2.3 percent.)

Maximum freedom, bitches. ||| Libertarian PartyLibertarian PartyOnly in the toss-up gubernatorial race of Ohio does the one with/without poll suggest that the Libertarian might be peeling from the Republican. Given the choice both of L.P. candidate Travis Irvine and Green Constance Gadell-Newton, voters gave 3 percent to each, while splitting Republican Mike DeWine and Democrat Richard Cordray, 44-44. Without the smaller-party candidates, it was still tied, 47-47, suggesting that the net effect was a push. (The three nonpartisan polls that include all four average out to: Cordray 42.3 percent, DeWine 41.3 percent, Irvine 3 percent, and Gadell-Newton 2 percent.)

The truth, as ever, is that no vote intrinsically "belongs" to any candidate or party, that nonvoters will almost certainly outnumber ballot-punchers three weeks from now, and what scant evidence we have is conflicting and race-specific on the question of what Libertarian voters would do in a world without that choice. Exit polls after the 2016 presidential election, for example, showed that 55 percent of Gary Johnson voters would have just sat out a Libertarian-less election, compared to 25 percent who would have voted for Hillary Clinton and 15 percent who preferred Donald Trump.

It also cannot be stressed enough that we have a disgracefully inadequate polling picture not just for Libertarians, but for some entire states. For example, there has not been a single nonpartisan poll taken in South Dakota's gubernatorial race. Not one! It's already bad enough that outfits such as Emerson College don't even include Libertarians who have polled as high as seven percent in totally toss-up races.

Earlier today John Stossel posted his video interview with another chronically underpolled Libertarian gubernatorial candidate, New York's Larry Sharpe:

Photo Credit: KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/UPI/Newscom

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  • loveconstitution1789||

    Go Libertarians!

    Now if only the Libertarian Party will clean up its act.

  • John||

    This is not surprising. Republican governors tend to be pretty moderate good government types. The Democratic Party has largely gone insane. So it makes sense that Libertarian candidates are attracting more disenchated Democrats than Republicans.

  • Tony||

    People who don't believe in science vs. people who think women should get paid the same as men. And the latter are insane.

    This is because you get all your thoughts from GatewayPundit.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Democrats don't believe in science and SAY that women should get paid as much as men. They say it very loudly--so loudly that people don't notice that they're only saying it.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Education vs. ignorance.

    Reason vs. superstition.

    Tolerance vs. bigotry.

    Modernity vs. insularity.

    Science vs. dogma.

    Strong liberal-libertarian schools vs. backwater religious schools.

    Modern, successful communities vs. can't-keep-up backwaters.

    Continuing progress vs. stale backwardness.

    The dividing lines are plain.

    I know which side has been shaping a better America throughout my lifetime. I know which side I want to win. I know which side I expect to continue to win.

  • John||

    You are without doubt the least educated, most ignorant superstious moron on this page. Whatever Media matters is paying you to troll this site, they are not getting their money's worth since you are convincing no one of anything except that yes Progressives really are some of the most supersitious ignorant and hateful people on earth.

  • Freddy the Jerk||

    Forward to the New Soviet Man!

  • Rockabilly||

    Reason vs. superstition.

    says the Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland, a proclaimed Pentecostal Minister, and snake handler

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Whatever you say, Rev. NPC.

  • Azathoth!!||

    You're just so sad, Artie.

  • Lost in the Woods||

    Is it me, or do others find themselves despising democrats. in part because of R.A.L.K? To the point of never voting for them, ever. I wonder if he/she is really a Republican operative, discouraging Dem voting? But then, the Dems don't really need any help of late on this front, do they?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Democrats have said many things over the years.

    They said that slavery should never end. They said that blacks should be segregated. Democrats said that women should not get the vote. Democrats said that they will start the KKK. Democrats said that non-whites are not good enough to compete for jobs and school admission, so they need Democrats to get them in.

  • Procyon Mustelid||

    Umm... a lot of those weren't even in the 20th Century, let alone anyone still around's lifetime. How are they possibly relevant to anything?

  • Rich||

    People who don't believe in science vs. people who think women should get paid the same as men.

    Yep, that's it in a nutshell. A. Nut. Shell.

    *** rolls eyes ***

  • John||

    The party that unapologetically believes in straight up socialism, happily supports violent mobs to attack its enemies in the name of "anti fascism", says things like "any woman who accuses a man of rape must be believed", demands that the federal government stop all efforts at controlling the border, thinks men should be able to use the women's bathrooms and showers at public palces because they think they are reallly women, and demands all white people pay some form of reperations for the sins of the past totally appeals to moderate voters, because SCIENCE

    Because you are bat shit insane in additiont to being stupid and hateful, Tony you have no clue just how repugnant your views are to normal people.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    The normal people in today's America are those who favor my preferences -- reason, education, progress, tolerance, modernity.

    Backwardness, bigotry, ignorance, religion, and insularity were more popular -- even normal -- back in the day.

    Those days are gone. Never coming back. It is over.

  • John||

    Yeah all the normal people favor your brand of backwards, 19th Century ignorance. That is why the Democrats control every branch of government and the vast majority of state governments, right?

    Or is it that Democrats are a loathed minority ourside of a few backwards areas and dying old cities?

  • MSimon||

    Endocannabinoids.

  • Freddy the Jerk||

    An educated person doesn't "believe" in science anymore than he "believes" in arithmetic. Your use of faith in reference to science is telling -- it shows you have no fucking idea how it all works and are just willing to uncritically accept ("believe") whatever "sciencey-stuff" Slate and NPR spoon feeds you.

    In other words, you're a gullible moron.

  • John||

    "Science" is objective and all that. It just happens to always require whatever it is Tony wants. Life is full of happy accidents I guess.

  • sarcasmic||

    But the scientists are like really smart and stuff, you know? I mean, they have like college degrees and stuff! And they're really smart! You think you know more than they do? They're like experts and stuff! They can't be wrong because they're like smart and have like totally impressive degrees and stuff!

  • Cynical Asshole||

    An educated person doesn't "believe" in science anymore than he "believes" in arithmetic.

    ^This^

    That whole "I believe in science" canard that smug douchebags like like Tony throw out to reassure themselves that they're better than "those people" is one of the lamest lines of bullshit they've ever come up with. Science involves observation, hypothesis, experimentation, analysis, and conclusion. Either the hypothesis checks out or it doesn't, no "belief" necessary.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Brother Tony's Traveling Salvation Show!

  • ||

    An educated person doesn't "believe" in science anymore than he "believes" in arithmetic.

    I believe in Natural Philosophy. Science is buzzword invented by self-congratulating credentialed morons.

  • Freddy the Jerk||

    Okaaaaay. That's some pretentious shit you got, but whatever gets you off.

  • sarcasmic||

    Science involves observation, experimentation, repeatability, and open debate. None of those things exist in what the left passes off as science. It's more like mystical predictions from a priesthood of people who call themselves scientists.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    None of those things exist in what the left passes off as science.

    But, they "fucking love science!"

  • sarcasmic||

    They fucking love scientists who give them excuses to make their dreams of total government control over every detail of everyone's life come true. But science? Not so much.

  • Tony||

    You're all so fucking stupid it's painful.

  • Fancylad||

    WE'RE THE PARTY OF SCIENCE!!!!
    (Nuclear power, vaccines, GMOs not included. May contain significant amounts of acupuncture, naturopathy, chakras, ancient astronauts, Lysenkoism, astrology, crop circles, Wind turbine syndrome, healing crystals, magnet therapy, ESP, biodynamic agriculture, primal therapy, dianetics, ley lines, colon cleanses and Feng Shui, BUT NO CREATIONISM)

  • sarcasmic||

    You forgot chem trails and lizard people.

  • Freddy the Jerk||

    Homeopathy, data-adjusted computer modeling, Malthusianism, aromatherapy, Wiccan practice, State worship, scientific socialism, and gender "studies".

    Anyone else want to play?

  • Eddy||

  • Nardz||

    "Anyone else want to play?"

    Modern psychology

  • Hank Phillips||

    The Tony and Rev sockpuppets don't bother me at all. In fact, the terrified way the Antichoice looter bots react to them is a sideshow in itself. The Gee-Oh-Pee is history, and has to trot out Hail Mary passes such as forced Australian straddle elections. Antichoice voting is used to coerce every voter in Australia (ergo Blackouts), Ireland (Female Forced Labor), New Zealand, Northern Ireland, and Scotland (Nazi Abortion laws), and Malta (Comstock law birth control bans). This is a bad record overall compared to the normal voting that now requires politicians to choose: repeal bad laws or lose those government paychecks.

  • Dillinger||

    >>>voters defected more from the Democrat

    L takes thought. R *used to* take thought. D takes feelz.

    people who end up L are thinkers. won't come from D, more likely from R ... imho wtf do i know?

  • KPapazyan47||

    It is a sad disappointment that nearly 50 years later that the LP still can't do anything of note besides get blamed as a spoiler for one side or the other after one of the major parties' candidates loses. There has been more than enough time for the party to gain a foothold and start to be legitimately competitive and yet it still hasn't done it; even in 2016 when the old time parties practically put out a welcome mat out for somebody, anybody to break the duopoly with their candidate choices.

    The fact that the LP rarely actually wins more than at most low double digits in meaningful elections (Statehouse seats or better) really makes you wonder if there actually is any viable voter poll to draw from for true liberty in this country, or if most people are better represented and more affiliated with one of the two parties than we or even some of themselves would like to admit. What makes it even worse is that some of the LPs best performances only occurred in races where either the Dems or GOP didn't contest the race.

  • creech||

    So,what do you recommend the LP do in order to break the duopoly?

  • JWatts||

    Create viable, pragmatic candidate. They need to be clearly not Nuts, which seems to be a legitimate hurdle for the LP. In addition, they need to pragmatically realize that certain portions Libertarian doctrine aren't politically viable.

    If you are running on a Federal platform of disbanding Social Security or abandoning NATO, you aren't going to win many votes.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    But that's the Catch-22 for LP candidates. To be "pragmatic" they have to largely abandon libertarian principles and present themselves as Republican Lite or Democrat Lite. I get that the idea is to inch in a libertarian direction, but given the way our politics works it seems like a mighty narrow and tricky path to walk.

  • Robert||

    Find something the voters want that the other candidates aren't offering. Can't find such a thing? Then don't run in that race, the voters already have what they want.

  • Lost in the Woods||

    I am not sure I agree. It s not about 'abandoning' libertarian principles, and becoming 'mainstream lite'. But it is about prioritization of libertarian objectives, and picking selective battles. The question is 'what to focus on first'. Not what to abandon in order to win, but what to focus on first, in order to win. If drugs, for example, then marijuana legalization in the name of freedom (for the left) and smaller government and lower spending (for the right). But not, for now, legal heroin. This is one example. And likely not the best one. The point is that we can't get everything all at once. But that is different from abandoning principles. It is simply taking the long view.

  • Robert||

    Solution: Don't break the duopoly, get in on it. That's how the incumbents did it. They all had to start from somewhere, which was basically nowhere. Do what they've done.

  • Robert||

    How did Trump do it? It's not like the GOP expected him.

  • JFree||

    So,what do you recommend the LP do in order to break the duopoly?

    Sell a positive vision of liberty that can be delivered.

    Sell the candidate as the person with the skills to be able to deliver that.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    It's kind of hard to break through when the duopoly has rigged the game in various ways against third party candidates.

  • sarcasmic||

    Does this mean that Democrat voters are tired of their party being openly hostile to all liberty with the exception of abortion?

  • JWatts||

    "Libertarian Party nominee Phil Anderson, at 5 percent."

    LOL, yeah sure. He's going to get 5 percent. I'm sorry, but this struck me as the biggest takeaway from the numbers.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I'll see it when I believe it.

  • Eddy||

    I wonder what would happen with ranked preference voting, where you vote your dream candidate, but then as a backup, vote for who you want to win if Dream Candidate doesn't do well.

    I foresee more protest votes with such a method (maybe more LP votes), which might give people the two big parties a sense of humility as so many of their candidates are ushered into power as explicitly second-choice preferences.

    But teaching humility to these guys would be like teaching vegetarianism to sharks.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Translation: As a Republican sockpuppet I prefer a ruined America--like Australia, with forced, waffle-straddle voting and power blackouts everywhere--to recognizing that Libertarian spoiler votes have legalized individual rights for women and the fascist GOP is doomed. There's no going back to Comstock Laws.

  • NoVaNick||

    I might still well be a Democrat were it not for self-righteous turds like The Reverend who have infested the party.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Not so fast! God's Own Prohibitionists have for 46 years pushed the Prohibition Party's Antichoice Amendment in reaction to the 1972 Libertarian plank becoming Roe v Wade. The Prohibition party has finally abandoned that plank. Church membership has fallen steadily since religious hijackers murdered some 3000 New Yorkers. All attempts to build a splinter party on race-suicide fanaticism have failed. Actuarial tables and coroners' reports guarantee the GOP is committing party suicide in efforts to force women to reproduce by pointing guns at doctors. Canada right next door has NO such laws. Infiltrators have already made the LP look like Dixiecrat abettors by injecting the current plank. Delete that crap--Canada's LP has no abortion plank--and let Bill of Rights supporters swim from the sinking republican hulk over to our candidates. The only thing that kept republicans afloat was resistance to the Red Millerite Global Warming Carbon Tax and war on power plants. Dems will learn from those losses and clean up THEIR platform, bet on it.

  • Hank Phillips||

    The nicest thing about the way Libertarian spoiler votes repeal bad laws is that the losers have only themselves to blame. Voters decide which candidates and platforms are the most obnoxious, abhorrent, pestilential, repugnant, evil, coercive and repellent and choose something else they like better. Invariably the more disgusting of the kleptocracy candidates loses because of a flawed platform, personality, or both. All we did was replace the socialists. In those heady days before Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Ceausescu and the like, many were duped by the socialist idea of looting people at gunpoint. Looter spoiler votes nudged the laws in a totalitarian direction. Now we vote for freedom, non-aggression, and the better thing that will eventually rid us of the two evils. I personally have benefited from every libertarian vote I ever cast in the past 20 elections.

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