2014 Election Results: RIP Spoiler Myth

The 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.

See vote totals here. For current figures, go to the State Board of Elections website.


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  • Deborah Slagle
    commented 2014-11-05 15:58:38 -0500
    I think that the hardest thing for people to get past is that they feel that voting for the Libertarian candidate will only help which other candidate they are more against. We MUST get past that to have a viable and much-needed third party. MY vote must be EARNED. A lot of people talk about how everyone should just “Man-Up” and choose one of the top 2… my response to those folks: Please refer to my previous sentence. I cast only TWO votes on my ballot on Tuesday. One vote on The North Carolina Criminal Defendant May Waive Jury Trial Amendment, and one vote for Sean Haugh. He was the only person on the ballot who EARNED my vote. I vote my conscience. In the past I have voted for both Republicans and also for Democrats… I only wish that there were more Libertarian candidates! And YESNOT voting for the establishment (either side) IS a choice!
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