The Real Way To Get Politicians To Listen: Impact An Election

The Virginia Governors race between Dem. Terry McAuliffe, Rep.
Ken Cuccinelli, and Libertarian Robert Sarvis demonstrates,
frankly, the best way to get politicians to listen to you is to
significantly impact an election. While Sarvis did not impact the
outcome of the election, he likely narrowed the Democrat’s
margin of victory. In the case of the Virginia Governors
race, the lesson may be for Democrats, not just Republicans, to pay
closer attention to moderate voters who value both economic and
personal freedom.

Despite McAuliffe
leading by 7 points
in the polls leading up to the election, he
only won by 2.5 percent. A surprise to many is that Sarvis, the
libertarian candidate hurt McAuliffe the Democrat more than
Cuccinelli, the Republican. Sarvis turned out not to be the
spoiler conservatives had predicted
. Exit polls reveal that
twice as many Sarvis voters would have otherwise voted for
McAuliffe over Cuccinelli. (ABC
a third would have gone for McAuliffe, more than twice
as many as for Cuccinelli)

Pundits had assumed the relatively popular libertarian
candidate, Sarvis, garnering
roughly 10 percent
in the polls was a boon to Democratic
candidate Terry McAuliffe, at the expense of Ken Cuccinelli the
Republican. (And yes, 10 percent in public opinion polls for a
libertarian is high). However, Sarvis proved himself a serious
candidate and deserving of attention—not just of Republicans but
Democrats too. He’s a graduate of Harvard, Cambridge, George Mason,
and NYU, pushes market based solutions for health care, and
advocates for less government intervention in the economy, but also
supports same-sex marriage. He also favors eliminating certain
taxes and regulations that give preferential treatment to some
industries, and strengthening liability laws to empower property
owners to hold businesses accountable for environmental damage.
Perhaps the fact he was even willing to discuss environmental
protection and closing tax loopholes earned him credibility among
Democratic voters.

Exit polls
that Sarvis voters were slightly more likely to be found
among moderates, liberals, those with higher educational
attainment, among those who think abortion should be legal in most
or all cases, and non-tea party supporters. Moreover, what is even
clearer is they were not overwhelmingly found among
conservatives, those who disapprove of the president, or disapprove
of the health care law.

These data provide some preliminary evidence to suggest how
pragmatic libertarian candidates can appeal not only to
Republicans, but Democrats too. Political candidates who believe
markets generally solve problems better than government bureaucrats
but also publicly demonstrate a sincere concern for the
environment, and the power of the wealthy and politically connected
to take advantage of government at the expense of everyone else can
perhaps prove to Democratic voters they are not a shill for
“powerful others” like corporations.

The lesson for libertarians is an unfortunate truth: the best
way to get the political apparatus to care about you is to win an
election, or at least significantly impact it. In fact, this is how
evangelical Christians made their way into the Republican Party in
the 1980s and 1990s. The tea party movement really only garnered
significant national attention when tea party backed candidates
beat out establishment backed Republicans in the primaries (i.e.
Sen. Rand Paul beating Trey Grayson in Kentucky, Sharon Angle
beating Sue Lowden in Nevada, Sen. Mike Lee replacing Bob Bennett
in Utah, etc.)

Pragmatic libertarian candidates may be painful for the
political parties in the short run, but may also demonstrate the
importance of appealing to voters in the middle who want both
parties to lean toward greater economic and social freedom.

from Hit & Run

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.