NC election results: RIP for the spoiler myth

Libertarian Party of North CarolinaThe 2014 Election is over and the myth that Libertarians “steal” votes or “spoil” races for the establishment parties may have been finally put to rest, or at least given it a near fatal blow.

“I do hope y’all will rethink this inane spoiler narrative after tonight,” said Sean Haugh, Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate. “I’m feeling great about tonight’s results. We made a statement today that will only grow in future elections.”

Haugh said he thought the Libertarian vote now has become the swing vote, noting his totals were greater than the margin of difference between Republican Thom Tillis and incumbent Democrat Sen. Kay Hagan.

In an analysis of NBC exit polling, Reason magazine noted the possible demise of the spoiler myth:

“It isn’t common for Democrats to accuse Libertarians of “spoiling” elections for them, but a look at NBC News exit polls show that Haugh voters indeed came more from people who consider themselves “moderate” (5 percent of self-identified moderates went Haugh) and even “liberal” (4 percent of liberals voted for Haugh) than from conservatives (only 2 percent of whom voted for Haugh).”

While it’s difficult to gauge the impact of the increase in Libertarian votes, since the party has been on and off the ballot several times since 1992, Haugh’s showing does illustrate the trend. His 108,140 votes and vote percentage were the highest for any statewide Libertarian candidate since 2008, including governor and president.

While Haugh fell short of the all-time statewide race records for most votes and highest percentage of votes, this race was much closer than either of the contests where those record were set. In 2008, Chris Cole got 133,430 votes for U.S. Senate. Scott McLaughlin got 4.05 percent of the vote in his run for governor in 1992.

Yet even though the overall turnout numbers were lower than 2012 (44 versus 68 percent), Haugh still got more votes and a higher percentage than either Barbara Howe for governor or Gary Johnson for president did that year.

Down ticket, three Libertarian candidates scored a vote percentage in double digits. Shelby Mood got 25.25 percent of the vote in his race for N.C. House 117. Erik Cable was just behind Mood at 25.23 in his race for N.C. House 104 and Jeremy Hussey got 16.22 percent for Randolph County Commissioner District 2. All these were two-way races.

Windy McKinney earned an impressive 9.79 percent of the vote vying with five other people for three seats on the Haywood County Commission.

“I feel sorry for all the other guys that have to go around for the next week picking up these mountain of yard signs. – Jeremy Hussey, Randolph County Commissioner Dist. 2

Vote totals here. For current figures, go to the NC State Board of Elections website.

14 thoughts on “NC election results: RIP for the spoiler myth

  1. Rick Adams

    Sean Haugh was my favorite Libertarian candidate of the year, just behind Adrian Wyllie. Unfortunately, here in Virginia Robert Sarvis can’t get no love! 🙁

    US Senate – Virginia (99.9% reporting, unofficial)
    Sen. Mark Warner (D) 1,071,283 49.16% (apparent winner, has declared victory)
    Ed Gillespie (R) 1,054,556 48.39% (no concession yet)
    Robert Sarvis (L) 53,396 2.45% (perhaps the most reviled Libertarian by Republicans and conservatives)
    Source: AP

    Here’s what happens next:

    1. Electoral boards in every Virginia locality have until today to ascertain and finalize the election results.

    2. The VA State Board of Elections will meet on Nov. 24th to certify the results and declare an official winner.

    3. Virginia has no automatic recounts. If the margin is within 1%, Gillespie can ask for a recount at his own expense. If the margin is between 0.5%, he can ask for a taxpayer-funded recount.

  2. Andy

    “Rick Adams

    November 6, 2014 at 6:51 am

    Sean Haugh was my favorite Libertarian candidate of the year”

    You must have low standards.

  3. Dave

    I’m not surprised Sarvis got less votes this time around. In his last race he was against probably the tow most hated candidates in Virginia. Any third party would have scored a few percentage points just by being on the ballot, and that is before we factor in any campaign he ran to actually attract votes.

    Still, his percentage is fairly impressive. I do suspect he performed better than a novice Libertarian would have, in part from name familiarity. The biggest factor is that he apparently scored 10% among youth voters. If those trends hold, the future looks bright for Libertarians.

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