How many times have you seen polls in which a Libertarian candidate with, say, 6 percent of the vote seems to be standing in the way of a Republican victory. It rarely works out that way, even assuming that most of the Libertarian candidates vote would have gone to the Republican. Typically, the Libertarian’s share of the vote dwindles to, say 2.5 percent, and the election isn’t close enough to be affected by that showing.
But look at the results in Virginia tonight. The latest count I’ve seen has Sen. Warner leading Ed Gillespie by 12,000 votes. Meanwhile, Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis has more than 53,000 votes. This means that Sarvis’ candidacy may cause Warner to be reelected.
For the record, I should say that, unlike some Libertarian candidates, Sarvis seems like a serious, well-qualified guy. And naturally, he has legitimate substantive differences with Gillespie.
But as a practical matter, he’s becoming a professional spoiler. Last year, when he ran for governor, he captured more than 145,000 votes in a race the Democrat won by around 55,000.
Is the libertarian cause furthered by having Terry McAuliffe, rather than Ken Cuccinelli, in the governor’s mansion? Perhaps, given Cuccinelli’s social conservatism.
Is the libertarian cause furthered by having Mark Warner in the Senate, rather than Ed Gillespie? That case seems much harder to make.
Is Sarvis helping himself by becoming a perpetual candidate? In 2013, he gained more than 6 percent of the vote. This year, he’s at 2 percent.
It looks to me like Sarvis is becoming a joke candidate with an unfunny punch line.