Election after election people in the media throw out spurious assertions that Libertarian Party candidates cause Republicans to lose. So it was little surprise to come across an article published last week with the title “Relieved by Roy Moore’s defeat? Thank a Libertarian.” What was surprising was that this article was published at the website of the United States Libertarian Party.
In the article credited as written by party staff, Libertarian National Committee Chairman Nicholas Sarwark is quoted as saying the following in regard to the defeat of Republican nominee Roy Moore by Democratic nominee Doug Jones in the United States Senate special election last week in Alabama: “If you’re happy that Roy Moore was not elected to the Senate, thank write-in candidates like Libertarian Ron Bishop.”
The article backs up this assertion by noting three factors: first, that the Libertarian write-in candidate and other write-in candidates won a total of 22,780 votes amounting to about 2,000 more votes than Jones’ margin of victory over Moore, second, that “[e]ven President Donald Trump acknowledged in a tweet that ‘The write-in votes played a very big factor’ in determining the outcome,” and, third, that “[c]onsidering the slim margin of victory in such a heavily Republican state, though, Bishop probably turned far more voters away from Moore than from Jones.”
Let’s address each factor in turn. First, that the write-in candidates won more votes than the margin of victory of the Democrat over the Republican shows in no way that the presence of write-in candidates caused the Republican to loose. It is just a mathematical observation, no more.
Second, it does not make sense for libertarians to defer to the authority of President Donald Trump’s tweets. Should we expect the Libertarian Party, for example, to start supporting the income tax or the drug war because of something Trump tweets? The party ran a candidate against Trump in 2016 and can be expected to run a presidential candidate again in 2020 irrespective of whether Trump seeks reelection.
Third, just reread this sentence carefully: “Considering the slim margin of victory in such a heavily Republican state, though, Bishop probably turned far more voters away from Moore than from Jones.” There is no argument in this sentence. It is just the statement of a couple facts followed by a conclusion that has no apparent connection to those facts. Yet, this non-argument is claimed to be so powerful that it should, for this Alabama US Senate election, lead us to reject the application of the claim in the previous sentence of the article that “Libertarian candidates usually draw equally from disaffected Republicans, Democrats, and independents.” Also, remember that those 20,000-plus votes were split among several other write-in candidates in addition to Bishop, the Libertarian.
I provided a detailed retort to the often repeated assertion that Libertarian candidates “spoil” elections for Republicans in my July of 2014 article “Media Blaming Libertarians for Republican Candidates’ Losses Four Months Before Election.”
Reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.