The Libertarian Party didn’t fare particularly well in most races yesterday. Rather than being a breakout year for alternative parties, voters made this a big wave year for Republicans. The GOP seemed to win all of the races they were favored in, and a few more where no one had given them much of a chance. Republicans were swept into control of the Senate and an even larger majority in the U.S. House.
In some key races we were watching, support for Libertarians failed to fully materialize. Most observers expected Libertarian nominees to force a runoff in either the Georgia governor’s or U.S. Senate contest, but Amanda Swafford and Andrew Hunt won only about 2% of the vote in their races as the Republicans cruised to victory with more than 50% of the vote.
Despite polling much higher in the early campaign, Libertarian Robert Sarvis finished with about 2.5% of the vote in a Virginia race for U.S. Senate. That’s far below the 6.5% he won for governor last year.
Libertarian Chad Monnin spent hundreds of thousands of his own dollars to mount a bid for Ohio State House, but wound up a distant third place with only about 8% of the vote. In South Carolina, Jeremy Walters won only 20% in a race against a Republican for the legislature. He had previously won 47% in a one-on-one contest against an independent in 2012.
But in Washington state, several Libertarians posted strong one-on-one showings of 30% or more in state house races.
The party’s candidate, John Monds, won 31% in a one-on-one statewide race for Georgia Public Service Commission. Steve Golter captured over 40% in a race for a seat on the Colorado University Board of Regents. Both were partisan elections and both candidates were running as Libertarians.
Michael Knebel the party’s candidate for Nebraska Treasurer appears to have just broken the 5% mark, meaning that the LP will retain ballot access in Nebraska.
Adrian Wyllie won more than 220,000 votes in a hotly contested governor’s race, setting a new Florida record for the LP in a statewide contest.
In the race for Alaska state house district 19, Libertarian Cean Stevens won about 37% of the vote. This looks like it may be the party’s high water mark for state legislative candidates in 2014.
Jim McDermott, the party’s candidate for the at-large U.S. House seat in Alaska, is currently holding steady at a healthy 7.5% of the vote against both a Republican and a Democrat. The national LP’s website also notes strong showings for several Libertarians in Congressional races in Missouri: ” In Missouri, several congressional candidates facing both a Republican and a Democrat are over 5%. Robb Cunningham is at 5.5%, Herschel Young is at 5.5%, and Kevin Craig is at 7.7%.”
News of local victories will take longer to process and compile, but it doesn’t seem like there are many big wins to celebrate.
It’s my sincere hope that the national Libertarian Party takes a hard look at these results and uses them formulate a plan for 2016. The Presidential campaign will take top billing, of course. But finding, funding and supporting quality Libertarian candidates for winnable state legislative races needs to be a close second in terms of priority.
Building a bench of elected state legislators will give the LP a mountain of credibility, enabling the party to take the next step and really contest some of these larger races in a serious way.