Libertarians lose political party status in Iowa

The Libertarian Party of Iowa will become a non-party political organization again after two years on the same legal footing as the Democratic and Republican parties. Unofficial results show Libertarian nominee Jake Porter received 21,095 votes for governor, about 1.6 percent of the statewide vote.

Iowa law defines a political party as an organization whose nominee for president or governor “received at least 2 percent of the total votes cast at the last general election.” Libertarians gained that status after Gary Johnson received nearly 4 percent of the 2016 presidential vote in Iowa.

Although Porter improved slightly on the 20,321 votes Lee Hieb received in the 2014 governor’s race, the Libertarian share of the vote decreased due to unusually high turnout for a non-presidential year in Iowa.

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Third-party candidates on ballot for all Iowa federal, statewide races (updated)

For the first time, at least one third-party candidate has qualified for every Congressional or statewide office in Iowa. Although third parties haven’t traditionally fared well in Iowa, Libertarians had their best showing ever here in 2016 and have nominated a record number of candidates for this November. Since several U.S. House or statewide races could be very close, even a small percentage of the vote for candidates other than the Democratic or Republican contenders could become significant.

With the filing period for Iowa’s general election ballot closed as of 5:00 pm on August 25, it’s time for an overview of the landscape. The full candidate list is posted on the Iowa Secretary of State’s website. UPDATE: John Deeth notes that candidates may have filed on the last day, which wouldn’t be reflected on the version currently posted online. I will update as needed; the key point is that there will be no statewide or Congressional races in Iowa this year with only Republican and Democratic options on the ballot. SECOND UPDATE: The Secretary of State’s office uploaded an amended candidate list on August 27. No new candidates filed for statewide office, but one additional person qualified for the ballot in the fourth Congressional district. Scroll down for further details.

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Iowa among the target states for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson

Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson has begun airing radio commercials in Iowa. I heard some of the spots on stations in the Des Moines market over the weekend and will update this post with full transcripts if I can record them. Daniel Strauss reported for Politico on August 26 that the Libertarian candidate “is spending $806,195 this month on radio ads in Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin.”

One of the ads features Johnson arguing that “if a Democrat is elected president, if a Republican is elected president, in four years we will still be at war, America will be four years deeper in debt, we will have four more years of rising taxes.”

A second ad is Johnson arguing against a two-party system.

“Google me, 60 percent of you have said you want another choice in 2016 and now you have one in me,” Johnson says in the ad. “We the people have a chance to do something in 2016 that may not come again in our lifetime. We have a legitimate chance to elect one of our own to the highest office in the land.”

Iowa may be an appealing place to advertise because air time is less expensive here than in many other swing states.

Super-PACs supporting the Libertarian ticket have produced some television and radio commercials, but I haven’t seen or heard any of those yet. AUGUST 31 UPDATE: This Purple PAC ad is on the air in the Des Moines market. I’ve added the video below.

The early advertising push is designed to boost Johnson’s support in national polls to at least 15 percent. The Presidential Debate Commission has said candidates must hit that threshold to be included in the three debates featuring presidential nominees and the one vice presidential debate.

No Libertarian presidential candidate has ever won more than 1 percent of the vote in Iowa; I compiled our state’s results for all previous tickets here. In the last three public polls of likely Iowa voters, Johnson had support from 12 percent, 6 percent, and 12 percent of respondents in a four-way race against Democrat Hillary Clinton, Republican Donald Trump, and Jill Stein of the Green Party.

The Libertarian Party of Iowa has a far stronger organization than any other third party in this state. In addition to Johnson and vice presidential nominee Bill Weld, Libertarian candidates are running for Iowa’s U.S. Senate seat, for the U.S. House in the third Congressional district, for six Iowa Senate seats, and for twelve Iowa House seats. Some of these candidates already have yard signs and other campaign materials.

In contrast, the Green Party did not nominate any candidates in Iowa other than Stein and her running mate Ajamu Baraka, even though access to the general election ballot is relatively easy here.

Johnson’s first rally in Iowa this election cycle is scheduled for this Saturday, September 3, at the Grand View University Johnson Wellness Center, 200 Grandview Avenue in Des Moines. Doors open at 1 pm. Stein will headline a Green Party rally at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines on Sunday, September 11.

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Will 2016 be a record-setting year for Libertarians in Iowa?

The two most recent national polls of the presidential race showed unusually high levels of support for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. In the NBC/Wall Street Journal survey conducted between June 19 and 23, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was backed by 39 percent of respondents, to 38 percent for presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, 10 percent for Johnson and 6 percent for Green Party candidate Jill Stein. An ABC/Washington Post poll in the field between June 20 and 23 found 47 percent of respondents for Clinton, 37 percent for Trump, 7 percent for Johnson, and 3 percent for Stein.

Even taking into account the reality that support for third-party candidates “usually diminishes over the course of the [U.S. presidential] campaign,” and third-party candidates have often received less than half as much support on election day as they did in nationwide surveys from June, Johnson has potential to shatter previous records for Libertarians. A former Republican governor of New Mexico, Johnson received 1,275,821 popular votes as the Libertarian presidential nominee in 2012, just under 1 percent of the nationwide vote. The best showing for a Libertarian ticket in terms of vote share was 1.06 percent (921,128 votes) in 1980 for Ed Clark and his running mate David Koch, better known as one half of the Koch brothers.

I haven’t seen any Iowa polls yet that gave respondents the option of choosing Stein or Johnson as alternatives to Clinton and Trump, but now seems like a good time to examine Libertarian presidential performance in Iowa over the last four decades and Johnson’s chances to improve on his 2012 results.

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Weekend open thread: Third-party candidates edition

August 13 was the deadline for third-party candidates seeking state offices to submit their nominating petitions to the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office. (Third-party candidates for county offices have until August 25 to do so).

This pdf file contains the complete list of candidates who have qualified for the ballot for federal offices, statewide offices or seats in the Iowa House and Senate.

Four candidates filed for the governor’s race: Jonathan Narcisse of the Iowa Party, Eric Cooper of the Libertarian Party, David Rosenfeld of the Socialist Workers Party, and a “fathers’ rights” activist named Gregory James Hughes. John Deeth noted that Iowa has more gubernatorial candidates than in any cycle since 1994, and that “the first cycle since 1998 that the Greens have had no top of the ticket candidate” in Iowa.

When Narcisse announced plans to run for governor, many people assumed he would draw votes primarily from Governor Chet Culver, whom Narcisse supported in 2006. However, Narcisse told the Des Moines Register this week,

“One pleasant surprise has been the number of [Bob] Vander Plaats supporters breaking our way. They understand, despite the rhetoric of candidate [Terry] Branstad, that his sixteen years in office make it clear he just doesn’t care about their priorities. So I’m seeing a lot of that support pour my way especially from rural communities,” said Narcisse.

Libertarian candidates also filed for U.S. Senate and in the first and second Congressional districts, as well as for secretary of state. Given how easy it is to qualify for the ballot in Iowa House and Senate districts (50 signatures for a House race and 100 signatures for a Senate race), I was surprised not to see more Libertarian candidates file for the state legislature. They didn’t venture beyond college towns. Libertarian candidates filed in Senate district 15 and House district 30, both in the Iowa City area where Republicans didn’t field a candidate against Democratic incumbents (Senator Bob Dvorsky and State Representative Dave Jacoby). They also fielded a candidate in House district 46, which includes a big chunk of Ames. Democratic incumbent Lisa Heddens has a Republican challenger too.

The Libertarian candidate for governor, Eric Cooper, has set a goal of winning at least 2 percent of the vote this year to gain major-party status. After that, Libertarians would field candidates in as many statehouse districts as possible in 2012 and beyond. But why wait until then? If I were a Libertarian trying to spread a message about the Republican Party betraying small-government principles, I would have fielded candidates against lots of Republican incumbents, especially those who have no Democratic challenger. They might have received a surprisingly large protest vote, generating some free media attention for the Libertarians in November.

This is an open thread. Share anything on your mind this weekend, whether or not it relates to the upcoming elections.

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Surprising results for minor-party presidential candidates

On the whole, Americans rejected minor presidential candidates. The nationwide popular vote stands at 66.3 million for Barack Obama (52.7 percent) and 58.0 million for John McCain (46.0 percent).

Out of curiosity, tremayne at Open Left reviewed the vote tallies for other presidential candidates:

530,200 votes: Ralph Nader

519,800 votes: Bob Barr

179,900 votes: Chuck Baldwin

147,600 votes: Cynthia McKinney

 30,800 votes: Alan Keyes (in CA)

 28,300 votes: Write-in/other

 10,500 votes: Ron Paul (in MT)

The Iowa Secretary of State’s office does not yet have the general election results on its website, and the Des Moines Register’s election results page only gives the numbers for Obama and McCain, but wikipedia gives these vote counts for Iowa:

818,240: Barack Obama

677,508: John McCain

7,963: Ralph Nader

4,608: Bob Barr

4,403: Chuck Baldwin

1,495: Cynthia McKinney

I am surprised that Nader got so many votes. That’s a lot less than he received in 2000 but at least 60,000 more votes nationwide than he received in 2004.

I also find it interesting that nationally, Bob Barr got three times as many votes as Chuck Baldwin, even though Ron Paul endorsed Baldwin. Maybe the “brand name” of the Libertarian Party is stronger than that of the Constitution Party, or maybe Barr just has more name recognition because of his prominent role in the Bill Clinton impeachment hearings.

In Iowa, Baldwin and Barr received approximately the same number of votes.

If any Bleeding Heartland readers have contacts in the Ron Paul for president crowd, please post a comment and let us know how the activists split among McCain, Barr and Baldwin.

UPDATE: A Bleeding Heartland reader compiled all the county results from Iowa and noticed something strange about Dubuque County. As he commented at Swing State Project, Dubuque County showed

quite a few votes for third party candidates and in some instances (La Riva/Moses) more than in the whole rest of Iowa.

I suspect there’s either something wrong with those numbers or they had some strange butterfly ballot.

Did anyone out there vote in Dubuque County, and if so, was the ballot design strange in some way that would produce an unusually high number of minor-party votes for president?

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