Democrats Should Love the Libertarian Party

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Both Democrats and Republicans have a strong distaste for pesky third party candidates butting in on their ballot. The two parties love the two party system.

But right here, right now, in this time and place, Democrats should be ecstatic about the growth of the Libertarian Party.

In Congressional districts across the county, Libertarian Party candidates garnered more votes than the margin of victory between the Democrat and the Republican. Given that nearly all Libertarian voters would have voted Republican, their Libertarian ballots boosted the Democrat to victory.

Matt Welch at has the list of races that went to Democrats because of the Libertarian candidates:

  1. Massachusetts’ 6th District where Democrat Rep. John Tierney beat Republican Richard Tisei 49.3% to 48.1% with Libertarian Daniel Fishman receiving 4.5% of the vote.
  2. Utah’s 4th District where Democrat Rep. Jim Matheson beat Republican Mia Love 48.3% to 47.3% with Libertarian Jim Vein garnering 4.5% of the vote.
  3. Arizona’s 1st District where Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick beat Republican Jonathan Paton 48.4% to 45.7%, with Libertarian Kim Allen receiving 5.9% of the vote.
  4. Arizona’s 9th District where Democrat Kyrsten Sinema beat Republican Vernon Parker 48.2% to 45.4%, with Libertarian Powell Gammill garnering 6.4%.
  5. New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District, where Democrat Carol Shea-Porter beat incumbent Rep. Frank Guinta 49.7% to 46.0%, while Libertarian Brendan Kelly netted 4.3%.
  6. Montana’s race for U.S. Senate, where incumbent Sen. John Tester defeated the Ron Paul-endorsed Denny Rehberg 48.7% to 44.8%, while LP nominee Dan Cox received 6.5% of the vote.

In Pennsylvania, only one Libertarian candidate ran for Congress. Libertarian Mike Koffenberger, longtime friend of Keystone Politics, ran against Republican Scott Perry and Democrat Harry Perkinson in the 4th Congressional District. So did Independent candidate Wayne Wolff.

Koffenberger garnered 2.0% of the vote, not enough to have impacted the 15.3% margin by which Perry beat the Democratic candidate.

Statewide, the Libertarian candidate for Senate received 1.7%, Attorney General 2.3%, Auditor General 3.8%, and Treasurer 3.5%.

In statewide races, the Libertarian Party isn’t as easily going to throw elections in favor of Democrats.

The opportunity is in the Congressional races.  If there is a hard-working Libertarian candidate running in each of the close Congressional Districts (the 6th, 8th, and 12th) Democrats will have a statistically better chance at victory.

Cynical? Yes. Manipulative? Definitely. Rove-like? Totally.

But it’s about time that our party took advantage of advantages.

If the Republicans want to gerrymander the entire Commonwealth into a series of Rorschach tests, we should be able to see a Libertarian in every ink blot.

Let’s help our Libertarian friends gain access to the ballot–let’s do it for America.

About Jake Sternberger

Jake Sternberger was a contributing writer at Keystone Politics from 2011 to 2014.
This entry was posted in Elections.

19 Responses to Democrats Should Love the Libertarian Party

  1. Why won’t Democrats play the same rat-fu-king game? Because they feed at the same corporate trough that the GOP does.

  2. Karel Minor says:

    I’m rat-fu-king delighted. It was thanks to our Greener friends voting for Nader that we were saddled with eight years of Bush (when we learned that maybe the parties weren’t PRECISELY the same difference). Keep it up, Grand Ol’ Party of not learning from other’s mistakes. I’ll take any election I can get.

  3. Jon says:

    Which Dem candidate in 2010 got busted for helping circulate nominating petitions for the Libertarian candidate? That guy was onto something (illegal)!

    • Jake Sternberger says:

      All we need to do is refrain from challenging petitions.

      Yes, Democrats cannot circulate petitions for Libertarians. For a Primary Election, the nomination petition must be signed by duly registered and enrolled members of the political party who are qualified electors.

      Our legal duty is to NOT circulate. It appears perfectly legal to encourage, and we are most certainly entitled to NOT challenge.

      • June Genis says:

        Again not true. The rules about who can circulate petitions are set at the state level. I am personally unaware of any state that says that the person circulating a petition must be registered in the same party as the person they are circulating for. If there were such rules a lot of professional petition circulators would be out of work as they often circulate for multiple third party candidates at the same time.

        At any given time a member of one party may be unhappy with the choice made by his or her party and decide to support and help someone from another party oppose their party’s candidate. I see absolutely nothing wrong with that. Blind allegiance to a party is what would be wrong.

        • Jake Sternberger says:

          I was talking about the Primary Elections. Read more closely.
          Also read 25 P.S. § 2868.
          “Each signer of a nomination petition shall sign but one such petition for each office to be filled, and shall declare therein that he is a registered and enrolled member of the party designated in such petition.”

          Signatures of electors on nomination petition that were not those of registered political party of candidate, that did not provide date of signing, and for which a single person signed for two electors would be stricken as invalid. —In re Morrison-Wesley, 946 A.2d 789 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2008).

          • June Genis says:

            Nothing is what you are quoting says anything about the party of the CIRCULATOR. Anyone who signs party nomination papers must be a member of the party the petition is for. It is possible that a particular state might have a law saying that circulators must be a member of the party they are circulating for but again that is a state by state issue. Please indicate the state you are referring to and quote the law with regard to crculators rather than signers.

          • Jake Sternberger says:

            Here’s what you asked for. It’s Pennsylvania law.

            25 P.S. § 2869
            Each sheet shall have appended thereto the affidavit of the circulator of each sheet, setting forth–(a) that he or she is a qualified elector duly registered and enrolled as a member of the designated party of the State, or of the political district, as the case may be, referred to in said petition, unless said petition relates to the nomination of a candidate for a court of common pleas, for the Philadelphia Municipal Court or for the Traffic Court of Philadelphia or for justice of the peace, in which event the circulator need not be a duly registered and enrolled member of the designated party;

          • June Genis says:

            Okay, I concede that in Pennsylvania the circulator of a nominating petition must be from the party for which the petition is being circulated. Just keep in mind that the rule could be different in a different state. I’m not from PA so I’m not familiar with the particular case you cited.

  4. June Genis says:

    It is NOT true that all people who voted for a Libertarian Party candidate would have voted for the Republican if there were no Libertarian on the ballot. Libertarians disagree with Republicans when it comes to social tolerance issues. We disagree with Democrats on fiscal issues. In most cases libertarians just don’t vote if there isn’t a candidate who is both fiscally conservative and social tolerant. If we do vote in such circumstances it will likely depend on what the big issues are in a particular race.

    For example, in Colorado where a measure was on the ballot to legalize marijuana, libertarians likely went to the polls to support it. In a two way race on the same ballot they would likely have voted for the Democrat if the Democrat supported the measure.

    • Damon Black says:

      Well said June. I also find a little interesting though no one even considers the possibility that Democrats might want to support Libertarians because they still care about liberty.

      • Jon says:

        I care about liberty, including economic liberty. I just don’t support the false doctrine that passes for economic liberty in the Libertarian Party and among Tea Party types. We should have a market economy, but not a market society. Too much of the Libertarian Party program is just principled-sounding ways to do nasty stuff to poor people.

  5. While I’m all for everyone kicking in and helping Libertarians, I just wanted to give you some information, and correct some misinformation. Most important to me of course is that I came in at 4.5% :). The official numbers are linked below. You were looking at Matt Welch’s article, but if you follow the link to the article he quoted, you’ll see the correct numbers.

    Gary Johnson took more votes away from Obama in several states — mostly based on the stronger anti-war policy. Libertarians pull a lot of democrats based on our being more socially tolerant. Libertarians support HR 2306 as an example, ending the prohibition on cannabis. Libertarians also generally have a much stronger appeal to people who like civil liberties because of our opposition to the Patriot Act and the NDAA. If you like the ACLU, you’re likely to prefer a Libertarian when you become acquainted with the issues.

    In my race, I did better in Democratic districts than in Republican ones. Again, if you look at the numbers linked below, you’ll see that I ran 4.6 in towns that the Democrat won and 4.3 in the towns the Republican won.

  6. Jay says:

    This isn’t true. I’m a former democrat and very much anti war. The Democrats have turned away from classical liberal values that they used to support. Liberalism is a revolt against centers of power, like guilds, monarchy, church, and governments. The age of enlightenment was the discovery of libertarian beliefs. Obama is following the Bush doctrine of endless wars and violations of civil liberties. Democrats indeed should love libertarians, but not for the reasons presented in this column. Libertarians are the classical liberals of today.

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  8. Not surprising but nonetheless offensive and INCORRECT assumption that libertarians would vote Republican otherwise. Take off the two-party-biased glasses so you can see that most Americans are fed up by the hyper partisan ship of our political system. Your typical partisan commentary here that relates to third parties as useful only as a spoiler for the enemy party is there very reason why 40% of the electorate and growing see themselves as independent.

    • Jon says:

      Actually I’ve written a whole bunch of posts here in favor of fusion voting and IRV that would allow more minor parties competition by removing the spoiler effect. No two-party glasses here at KP.

  9. Madfoot says:

    I’m a Libertarian. Fuck Dems. Go ahead and bolster us, and see what happens when your loyal Democrat voters go Libertarian.