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Libertarian Candidates Surging in US Senate Contests

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Libertarian hopefuls in Michigan and Missouri are on pace to notch the best ever showing for a non-major party U.S. Senate candidate in their respective states

libertarianparty10.jpgWith partisan control of the nation's upper legislative chamber in 2013 still in doubt now a few weeks out from Election Day, the emergence of surging libertarian candidacies in key states may not only influence the the balance of power, but also set statewide records.

Libertarian or libertarian-endorsed candidates will appear on the ballot in 14 of the 33 states holding U.S. Senate elections this year.

The picture is still fuzzy as to how much support many of these candidates are receiving at this stage of the campaign - due in part to the fact that most polling outlets have not included the names of these Libertarians in their array of horserace survey questions.

(Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson has registered similar complaints this cycle).

But in at least three states, the campaigns of libertarians have garnered enough momentum for polling companies to recognize their candidacies in their surveys - and the early results are impressive.

In Missouri, Libertarian Jonathan Dine polled at 9 percent in the latest survey by PPP (October 1-3).

Dine won 3 percent of the vote in his 2010 U.S. Senate campaign won by GOPer Roy Blunt but is expected to build on that support - particularly given the troubles of Republican nominee Todd Akin in the race to unseat Democrat Claire McCaskill.

If Dine's support holds, he will crush the previous best record turned in by a U.S. Senate third party or independent candidate in the Show Me State - currently held by Libertarian Bill Johnson in 1994 at 4.6 percent.

Only one other non-major party Missouri U.S. Senate candidate has eclipsed the four percent mark since direct elections of U.S. Senators began nearly 100 years ago: Progressive Arthur Sager won 4.5 percent in 1914.

In Michigan, Libertarian Scotty Bowman is backed by 7 percent of likely voters according to a recent survey by Gravis Marketing (October 5-6) in the contest between Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow and former U.S. Representative Pete Hoekstra as well as candidates from the Green, Natural Law, and U.S. Taxpayers (Constitution) parties.

Bowman is on pace to break the all-time record for a non-major party U.S. Senate candidate in the Wolverine State.

The best showing to date is held by Louis Ward when he received 4.4 percent of the vote in 1936 running under "The Third Party" ticket.

Only one other such candidate has eclipsed the 4 percent mark in Michigan over the last century: Libertarian Jon Coon in 1994 with 4.2 percent.

In Montana, multiple polls have now found Libertarian Dan Cox polling above the 5 percent mark in that state's U.S. Senate contest featuring one-term Democratic incumbent Jon Tester and Republican U.S. Representative Denny Rehberg.

A Public Policy Polling survey (October 8-10) found Cox receiving the support of 8 percent of likely voters while a Montana State University Billings survey (October 9) showed Cox's support at 6 percent.

Tester received an assist in 2006 from the candidacy of Libertarian Stan Jones - whose 10,377 vote tally was nearly triple that of Tester's vote margin over three-term Republican incumbent Conrad Burns (3,512 votes).

If Cox can maintain his 6+ percent support on Election Day, it would mark the best showing by a non-major party candidate in a Montana U.S. Senate race since 1936, when independent Joseph Monaghan won 17.9 percent.

The two best showings of an independent or third-party senate candidate in Montana were turned in by Progressive Joseph Dixon at 32.1 percent in 1912 (good for second place) and U.S. Representative Jeannette Rankin who won 23.1 percent under the National banner in 1918.

Libertarian candidates will also be on the ballot in nine other states, but their names have not been included in any public opinion surveys conducted this month: in Arizona (Marc Victor), Connecticut (Paul Passarelli), Indiana (Andy Horning), Maryland (Dean Ahmad), New Jersey (Kenneth Kaplan), New York (Chris Edes), Pennsylvania (Rayburn Smith), Texas (John Jay Myers), and Wisconsin (Joseph Kexel).

Libertarian-endorsed candidates will likewise be on the ballot in Tennessee (independent Shaun Crowell) and Maine (Independent for Liberty candidate Andrew Dodge) but have also not been included in candidate listings of recent surveys.

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Remains of the Data

Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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