Robert Sarvis Showing was Best Gubernatorial Showing for a Minor Party Candidate in the South Since 1970

On November 5, the Libertarian Party nominee for Virginia Governor, Robert Sarvis, polled 6.6% of the vote. This is the best showing for a third party for Governor in a southern state since 1970, when Alabama’s National Democratic Party polled 14.68% for John Logan Cashin. The Alabama National Democratic Party was a party supported mostly by African Americans; in 1970 the Democratic nominee was George Wallace and there was no Republican nominee.

In general, southern states are less supportive of minor parties than any other region.

Virginia requires a 10% vote for any statewide office for party status, so Sarvis’ vote did not give the Libertarian Party qualified status. However, an equivalent showing in each of the other 49 states would mean that such a party would be ballot-qualified in 40 states. This calculation assumes that a party that is able to get 6.6% of the gubernatorial vote would also be able to match the requirements in a handful of states that don’t use vote results to determine party status. For example, Delaware requires registration membership of one-tenth of 1% of the total, and this calculation includes Delaware.

The only state that has a higher vote test than Virginia for party status is Alabama, which is at 20%. Two other states have 10% vote tests: Oklahoma and New Jersey. Pennsylvania requires registration membership of 15%. All other states require 5% or less, and the median of the 50 states is 2%.

The Washington Post has exit results for the Virginia gubernatorial race here. Notably, Sarvis polled 15% of voters between the age of 18 and 29, 6% of the voters between ages 30-64, and 5% of the voters age 65 and over. The Sarvis showing is the third highest for any Libertarian gubernatorial nominee in the party’s history; the only better showings were made by Dick Randolph in Alaska in 1982, and Ed Thompson in Wisconsin in 2002. Thanks to Jim Peron for the link to the exit results. UPDATE: the New York Times also has the exit poll results, at this link, and they are easier to read than those in the Washington Post.


Robert Sarvis Showing was Best Gubernatorial Showing for a Minor Party Candidate in the South Since 1970 — No Comments

  1. Divide and CONQUER — been working for 2000 plus years.,_2013

    One more plurality leftwing EXTREMIST chief executive officer – i.e. the coming VA Guv ???

    Will the Elephant areas in VA attempt to secede ??? — a *change* from the 1861 Donkey effort.

    Will the Donkeys / Elephants respectively PURGE the Greens / Libertarians whereever possible ???

    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V.

  2. Richard, you said Sarvis would have qualified in 40 states and name Alabama, new Jersey, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania as being equally or more burdensome than Virginia.

    What are the other 5 states where Sarvis would not have qualified the LP for ballot status, and what’s the reason in those others?

  3. Hawaii is difficult to characterize. It requires either 10% for a statewide race, or 4% for half the state house races, or 2% for half the state senate races, and if a party has been on for 3 elections in a row then it gets 10 years regardless of the vote test. So it is really moderate but to be consistent I had to put Hawaii on the list of the states in which the LP wouldn’t be on. Then there is Indiana, where the only vote test that counts is Secretary of State, but it is only 2%. In Kentucky, the vote test is only 2% but only president counts. Finally, there are California and Washington, where the top-two system means that even though the LP might be a “qualified party”, it still can’t be on the general election ballot in almost any race except president.

  4. That’s useful and illuminating information. Virginia’s rules are daunting, but we’ve made legislative progress in recent years in terms of liberalizing some aspects of ballot-access laws. There’s a long way to go but these battles are won by inches, not miles.

  5. Richard:

    In 1978, do you recall what Ed Clark’s percentage was
    when he ran for Governor. It seems to me that he polled
    over HALF a million votes in that election.

  6. Ed Clark polled 377,960 votes, approximately 5.5% of the vote

    So Robert Sarvis received a higher percentage than Ed Clark.

    One other Libertarian received a significant vote for Governor.
    In 1982 Sam Steiger, a former Republican member of Congress, received 5% of the vote as the Libertarian candidate for Governor of Arizona; his vote total was 36,649

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