With the Presidential vote in, it looks like Gary Johnson failed to be a “spoiler” for either Romney or Obama in a single state. Complete returns from Florida may change that, but in every other state either Obama or Romney won with at least 50% of the vote.
The situation was different in a number of Senate and House races.
In Indiana, tea party favorite Richard Mourdock managed to lose a safe Republican seat, with moderate Democrat Joe Donnelly winning with about 49.9% of the vote, to 44.3% for Mourdock. Andy Horning, Libertarian, received more than 145,000 votes, equivalent to 5.8% of the vote. Did Andy deprive the Republicans of a seat in the Senate?
In this case, probably not. Andy Horning has run active campaigns for office several times in the past. Normally he has received about 2% of the vote. When Richard Mourdock made his comment about rape and pregnancy, Mourdock’s campaign support dived, and Andy Horning picked up part of that support, while most went to Rep. Donnelly. By being on the ballot and offering an alternative, Andy Horning achieved a record vote for a Libertarian Senate candidate in Indiana. Thank you Andy!
2012 Indiana Senate results @ http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=507745
A more likely case of the Libertarian candidate hurting the Republican took place in Montana. Six years ago, as Democrats took back the House of Representatives based on backlash against President George W Bush, control of the Senate was finally determined by the results in Montana. Democrat John Tester eked out an election victory with 49.2%, defeating Sen. Conrad Burns who took 48.3% – Stan Jone, Libertarian received 2.5% and much abuse in conservative media for “spoiling” the election.
2006 Montana Senate results @ http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=83887
This year, Sen. Tester sought re-election in a conservative state that voted against President Obama. Rep. Dennis Rehberg was a strong Republican candidate backed by the Republican National Committee. Rep. Ron Paul endorsed Rehnberg, despite Rehberg’s votes in favor of the Patriot Act, the Iraq War, and NDAA. On November 6, Sen. Tester received only 48.5%, but this beat Rep. Rehberg who received 45%. Dan Cox ran an active Libertarian campaign and received more than 6.5% of the vote, almost twice the margin of victory for Sen. Tester.
2012 Montana Senate results @ http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=496806
This time, Montana was not enough to determine control of the Senate, since Democrats picked up the Indiana seat and at least one other previously held by a Republican. But Dan Cox has helped to establish The Libertarian Party as a factor in Montana politics. We can hope that Sen. Tester remembers that many of his constituents prefer The Libertarian Party, and they deserve consideration when new proposals come before the Senate.
Is Dan Cox a spoiler? Not really. Denny Rehberg lost because not enough people wanted to vote for him – and some of those people preferred a candidate who really is committed to limited government and personal freedom.