Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Sarvis Eyes Record Book in Virginia Gubernatorial Race

Bookmark and Share

The third option in Virginia's top of the ballot race next week will likely rank among the Top 3 performances by a Libertarian gubernatorial nominee in party history

robertsarvis10.jpgBenefiting in part from an ugly campaign between two fairly unpopular major party candidates, Virginia Libertarian gubernatorial nominee Robert Sarvis is less than a week away from turning in one of the most impressive campaigns by a Libertarian nominee for governor in his party's history.

Sarvis, who has worked as a lawyer, math teacher, and software engineer, has polled in double-digits more than a half-dozen times over the last two months in three-way matchups against Democratic favorite Terry McAuliffe and GOP state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

With McAuliffe seemingly surging and Cuccinelli faltering in recent weeks, Sarvis is hoping that he will actually pick up more conservative and independent supporters in the coming days and defy the conventional wisdom which holds that support for third party candidates wanes when voters get to the ballot box.

If he does, Sarvis could rival the best ever performance by a Libertarian gubernatorial nominee.

A Smart Politics review of the more than 200 Libertarian gubernatorial nominees since the mid-1970s finds that 2013 Virginia nominee Robert Sarvis is likely to tally one of the Top 3 strongest candidacies in party history next week.

From the mid-1970s through the 2012 cycle, there have been 206 gubernatorial candidates appearing on the general election ballot under the Libertarian banner.

(Note: Excluded are write-in candidates or independent candidates receiving a Libertarian endorsement).

Only three of these Libertarian candidates reached the 5 percent mark and just a dozen won four percent of the general election vote.

The best showing to date is by 1982 Alaskan gubernatorial candidate Dick Randolph.

Randolph was a former Republican State Representative in the early 1970s who became the first Libertarian elected to state government, winning two additional terms in the Alaska House in 1978 and 1980.

In 1982, Randolph was the Libertarian nominee for governor and won 14.9 percent - good for third place behind Democratic victor Bill Sheffield and GOPer Tom Fink in a four-candidate field.

Later in the 1980s, Randolph would run as a Republican once again for both governor and the U.S. Senate - losing in the primary each time.

Randolph's 1982 mark has stood ever since, and only one other Libertarian candidate has seen double-digits in a gubernatorial race - Wisconsin's Ed Thompson.

Thompson, brother of former four-term GOP governor and then Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, notched 10.5 percent in 2002 as Republican incumbent Scott McCallum fell to Democrat Jim Doyle by just 3.7 points.

The only other Libertarian to reach 5 percent in a race for governor was Arizona's Sam Steiger - also in 1982.

Steiger was a former five-term Republican U.S. Representative and the GOP 1976 U.S. Senate nominee (losing to Dennis DeConcini) and received 5.1 percent of the gubernatorial vote in 1982 in a race won by Democratic incumbent Bruce Babbitt.

Sarvis, who hasn't polled less than six percent in any of the last 20+ surveys, is almost assured to eclipse Steiger's mark for at least the third all-time best tally for the party.

The one thing each of these three aforementioned Libertarians had going for them that Sarvis does not is a known political name and history - they, or someone in their family, were at one point Republican officeholders.

The eight other Libertarian gubernatorial candidates to reach four percent are:

· New Hampshire's Miriam Luce in 1990 (4.9 percent) and 1992 (4.0 percent)
· New Jersey's Murray Sabrin in 1997 (4.7 percent)
· Oregon's Tom Cox in 2002 (4.6 percent)
· New Hampshire's Steven Winter in 1994 (4.4 percent)
· North Carolina's Scott McLaughlin in 1992 (4.1 percent)
· South Dakota's Nathan Barton in 1994 (4.1 percent)
· Georgia's John Monds in 2010 (4.0 percent)

While it is commonly thought that Libertarian nominees flourish at the peril of Republican candidates, that has not consistently been the case.

Across the 50 contests in which a Libertarian gubernatorial nominee received at least two percent of the vote, 25 elections were won by Republicans and 25 by Democrats.

Overall, Libertarian nominees for governor have averaged 1.5 percent over the decades - rising from 0.5 percent in the 1970s to 1.2 percent in the 1980s and 1.8 percent in the 1990s.

After dipping to 1.4 percent in the 2000s, Libertarians are back to averaging 1.8 percent thus far during the 2010s.

The number of Libertarian gubernatorial nominees has increased each decade from 14 in the 1970s to 42 in the 1980s, 55 in the 1990s, 67 in the 2000s, and 28 thus far from 2010 through 2012 (on pace for the party's decade-long high).

Sarvis will also set Virginia's Libertarian gubernatorial record next week as the only such nominee in history is William Redpath's 0.8 percent in the state's 2001 contest won by Democrat Mark Warner.

Notable independent and third party Virginia gubernatorial candidates since the 20th Century include:

· Independent Henry Howell in 1973 (49.3 percent, without a Democrat on the ballot)
· Virginia Conservative William Story in 1965 (13.4 percent)
· Socialist C. Campbell in 1911 (5.2 percent, without a Republican on the ballot)

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: Which States Have the Highest Rates of Female Gubernatorial Nominees?
Next post: Back to Back to Back? Will Another Minnesota US Rep Fall in 2014?

5 Comments


  • I'll be happily voting for Robert Sarvis in this election. Based on his positions and merits, he deserves my vote. I encourage others to research all three candidates and vote for whom they truly think would make the best Governor of Virginia!

  • The libertarian party is the only one that makes sense in this election. Anyone voting different isn't voting the issues, or for the most honest candidate. Nope. Those people are just voting for a party and not looking closely at the two party candidates. Those guy's are crooks!!

  • I have been donating to the Robert Sarvis campaign and am glad I did. He is doing very well and I hope he gets over 10% which would make the Libertarian Party a major party in Virginia under state law.

  • Sarvis is the best choice for economic and individual liberty.

  • I'm so over the Left - Right BS so I'm going straight down the middle and voting for Sarvis. He is by far the best choice for Virginia. This is the time to tell the republicans and democrats that we are over it and we want & need someone who's listening to the people and what they want and not what big business and big money says it should be. It's time Virginia!!!! Send a loud message to the country that there is more than 2 choices. Vote Sarvis and make your voice be heard!!!!!

  • Leave a comment


    Remains of the Data

    Gender Equality in the US House: A State-by State Quarter-Century Report Card (1989-2014)

    A study of 5,325 congressional elections finds the number of female U.S. Representatives has more than tripled over the last 25 years, but the rate at which women are elected to the chamber still varies greatly between the states.

    Political Crumbs

    Final Four Has Presidential Approval

    By edging Michigan in the final seconds Sunday, the University of Kentucky guaranteed that one school in the Final Four this year would be located in a state that was not carried by President Barack Obama in 2012. (Connecticut, Florida, and Wisconsin had previously earned Final Four slots over the weekend). Across the 76 Final Fours since 1939, an average of 3.1 schools have been located in states won by the president's ticket during the previous election cycle. All four schools have come from states won by the president 29 times, with the most recent being the 2009 Final Four featuring Connecticut, Michigan State, North Carolina, and Villanova. On 30 occasions three Final Four schools have been located in states won by the president, with two schools 11 times and only one school six times (the most recent being 2012 with Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, and Ohio State). There has never been a Men's NCAA Division I Final Four in which no schools were located in states carried by the president's ticket.


    Three for the Road

    A new Rasmussen Poll shows Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in a dead heat with likely 2014 Democratic nominee Mary Burke. Walker is seeking to win his third consecutive election after prevailing in 2012's recall contest. Eight of his predecessors accomplished this feat: Republicans Lucius Fairchild (in 1869), Jeremiah Rusk (1886), Robert La Follette (1904), Emanuel Philipp (1918), John Blaine (1924), Walter Kohler (1954), Warren Knowles (1968), and Tommy Thompson (1994). Three others Badger State governors lost on their third campaign: Democrat George Peck (1894), Progressive Philip La Follette (1938), and Republican Julius Heil (1942). One died in office before having the opportunity to win a third contest (GOPer Walter Goodland in 1947) while another resigned beforehand (Democrat Patrick Lucey in 1977 to become Ambassador to Mexico). Overall Wisconsin gubernatorial incumbents have won 35 of 47 general election contests, or 74.5 percent of the time.


    more POLITICAL CRUMBS

    Humphrey School Sites
    CSPG
    Humphrey New Media Hub

    Issues />

<div id=
    Abortion
    Afghanistan
    Budget and taxes
    Campaign finances
    Crime and punishment
    Economy and jobs
    Education
    Energy
    Environment
    Foreign affairs
    Gender
    Health
    Housing
    Ideology
    Immigration
    Iraq
    Media
    Military
    Partisanship
    Race and ethnicity
    Reapportionment
    Redistricting
    Religion
    Sexuality
    Sports
    Terrorism
    Third parties
    Transportation
    Voting