Libertarians play key role in highly contested races

Libertarian candidates may have decided the winner in at least six federal and governor races, despite record-shattering spending levels in support of the Democratic and Republican candidates.

Each race where a Libertarian threatens to affect the outcome of an election puts pressure on the old parties to move in a Libertarian direction by reducing government’s size, scope, and authority.

It’s also a sign that more Americans reject the argument that there’s any substantial difference between Democratic and Republican politicians. Voters are seeing that which of the two wins is of little consequence.

At least six Libertarians beat the spread between the Democrat and Republican by a two-to-one margin or greater: Robert Sarvis for U.S. Senate in Virginia, Dan Feliciano for governor in Vermont, Adrian Wyllie for governor in Florida, Sean Haugh for U.S. Senate in North Carolina, Carolyn (“Care”) Clift for governor in Alaska, and Steven Laird for the 2nd U.S. House district in Nebraska.

Here are preliminary vote totals for some U.S. Senate, U.S. House and governor races where Libertarian votes exceeded the spread between the votes of Democrats and Republicans. Note that some of the below results reflect less than 100 percent reporting, and many House races are not yet included in this tally as of midday on Nov. 5.

Libertarian State Office Libertarian
LP Votes
to Spread
Robert Sarvis VA U.S. Senate 53,595 12,353 4.3
Dan Feliciano VT Governor 8,444 2,333 3.6
Adrian Wyllie FL Governor 222,659 70,489 3.2
Sean Haugh NC U.S. Senate 108,183 48,511 2.2
Care Clift AK Governor 6,745 3,165 2.1
Steven Laird NE 2nd U.S. House 8,391 4,132 2.03
Matthew Hess CO Governor 35,108 25,463 1.38
Corvalan TX 23rd U.S. House 2,960 2,465 1.20
Mark Fish AK U.S. Senate 8,358 8,149 1.03
Keen Umbehr KS Governor 33,704 33,029 1.02
Steve Brown NV 4th U.S. House 4,117 3,635 1.13

A Reason analysis suggests that a significant portion of Sarvis’s support may have come from independents who would have otherwise voted Republican. In contrast, Haugh’s support may have pulled more from those who would have voted for the Democrat.

Dan Feliciano in Vermont won the endorsement of key Republicans in the GOP primary as a write-in candidate, suggesting his presence in the race swung the victory to the Democrat.

These strong results in key races show that no amount of Democratic or Republican spending is going to change steadily growing support for Libertarian campaigns.