Sunday, December 09, 2012

Independent Candidates Cost The Republicans 5 House Seats Last Month


I've always bitten the bullet in the past and voted for the lesser of two evils, even pulling the lever for the much-hated Joe Lieberman when he ran for Vice President with Al Gore. Even voting for the very compromised Gore was a stretch for me. He was never the kind of populist, like his father, I prefer. But last month-- first time ever-- I came out of the voting booth feeling somehow clean. I didn't vote for Obama, absolutely the far lesser of two evils compared to Romney. Of course, I live in California, where Obama would be getting over 60% of the vote anyway, regardless of what I did. It would be a lot tougher in Virginia, North Carolina, Iowa or Colorado where every vote counted in the struggle to keep Romney away from the White House. But in sunny California, I voted for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, who drew around 100,000 votes nationally.

The first time I had ever heard of Dianne Feinstein she was a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors (the City Council) and a close friend was also on the Board, Harvey Milk. He old me what a tool of anti-working family Big Business interests she was. She still is and I'm happy to say I've never voted for her, not when she ran for mayor of San Francisco-- I helped Jello Biafra run against her-- and not in any of her Senate campaigns-- including not last month.

I didn't vote for the Blue Dog, Adam Schiff, who was gerrymandered into my ultra-blue congressional district either. But there was no independent, just a Republican... so I left that slot blank.

President Obama was reelected with 51% of the vote and his main rival, Romney, wound up-- ironically-- with barely 47%. About 2.2 million voters (1.7%) cast their ballots for independent candidates, like I did. (343,586 of them where in California, 2.64%.) But there was no plausible scenario in which the third party candidates swung that race against Romney electoral college-wise. Obama's electoral college victory was just too massive for it to have mattered if Florida or Virginia independent votes could have switched their states' electoral votes. In Florida, for example, Obama beat Romney by only 46,061. If everyone who supported a third-party candidate had instead voted for Romney-- a big "if" when you consider that many of the independent votes were from the left, not the right-- the Republican candidate would have won the Sunshine State by 24,892 votes. That would have gained Romney 29 votes in the Electoral College for a total of 235-- still 35 short of the 270 needed to win... In Virginia, it had been feared that former Congressman Virgil Goode’s Constitutional Party candidacy would leach off enough conservative votes to give the state’s Electoral College votes to Obama. However, Obama won the state’s 13 Electoral College ballots by 54,924 votes. Only 51,802 Virginians voted for all of the third-party candidates combined-- close, but not enough to matter.

However, there actually were some congressional seats where the number of third party votes were greater than the difference between the Democrat and the Republican. Let's take a look at the districts with the biggest number of third party voters... but keep in mind, the ones with the really big numbers are cases where either the Democrat or the Republican was otherwise unchallenged, like in the case of CA-33, where Bill Bloomfield, a big-spending ($5,654,105) multimillionaire challenged longtime incumbent-- though in a significantly redrawn district-- Henry Waxman and walked off with 46.04% of the vote to Waxman's 53.96%. There was no Republican in the race because Bloomfield had come in second in California's crazy new top-two primary system.

Nationally, there were 24 Republicans who faced no Democratic opponent and 19 Democrats who faced no Republican opponent. First the Republicans:
Jo Bonner (AL-01)- 196,374 (97.86%) vs other- 4,302 (2.14%)
Steve Womack (AR-03)- 186,467 (75.9%) vs Rebekah Kennedy (Green)- 59,193 (24.1%)
Paul Cook (CA-08)- 95,962 (57.6) vs Gregg Imus (R)- 70,608 (42.4%)
Kevin McCarthy (CA-23)- 144,477 (73.9%) vs Terry Phillips (I)- 51,101 (26.1%)
Gary Miller (CA-31)- 82,212 (55.2%) vs Bob Dutton (R)- 66,603 (44.8%)
Doug Lamborn (CO-05)- 191,198 (65.3%) vs Dave Anderson (I)- 50,876 (17.4%)
Ander Crenshaw (FL-04)- 239,988 (76.7%) vs Jim Klauder (I)- 75,482 (23.93%)
Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25)- 151,466 (75.65%) vs Stanley Blumenthal (I)- 48,763 (24.4%)
Lynn Westmoreland (GA-03)- 232,380 (99.95%) vs other- 105 (0.05%)
Austin Scott (GA-08)- 197,789 (100%)
Paul Broun (GA-10)- 211,065 (99.81%) vs other- 401 (0.19%)
Tim Huelskamp (KS-01)- 211,337 (100%)
Kevin Yoder (KS-03)- 201,087 (68.45%) vs Joel Balam (Libertarian)- 92,675 (31.55%)
John Fleming (LA-04)- 187,894 (75.3%) vs Randall Lord (Libertarian)- 61,637 (24.7%)
Rodney Alexander (LA-05)- 202,536 (77.83) vs Ron Ceasar (I)- 57,680 (22.2%)
Bill Cassidy (LA-06)- 243,553 (79.41%) vs Rufus Craig (Libertarian)- 63,160 (20.6%)
Gregg Harper (MS-03)- 234,717 (80.02%) vs Luke Pannell (Reform)- 20,090 (19.98%)
John Boehner (OH-08)- 246,378 (99.22%) vs other- 1,938 (.78%)
Joe Wilson (SC-02)- 196,116 (96.27%) vs other- 7,602 (3.73%)
Diane Black (TN-06)- 184,264 (77%) vs Scott Beasley (I)- 34,746 (14%) vs Pat Riley (Green)- 21,613 (9%)
Sam Johnson (TX-03)- 187,180 (100%)
Mac Thornberry (TX-13)- 187,775 (90.98%) vs John Deek (Libertarian)- 12,671 (6.2%)
Bill Flores (TX-17)- 143,284 (79.93%) vs Ben Easton (Libertarian)- 35,978 (20.07%)
Randy Neugebauer (TX-19)- 163,239 (84.99%) vs Chip Peterson (Libertarian)- 28,824 (15.01%)
And now the Democrats with no Republican opponent:
Ed Pastor (AZ-07)- 104,489 (81.74%) vs Joe Cobb (Libertarian)- 23,338 (18.26)
Barbara Lee (CA-13)- 250,436 (86.78%) vs Marilyn Singleton (I)- 38,146 (13.22%)
Eric Swalwell (CA-15)- 115,694 (52.2%) vs Pete Stark (D)- 105,872 (47.8%)
Tony Cardenas (CA-29)- 86,848 (74.0%) vs David Hernandez (I)- 38,994 (25.95%)
Brad Sherman (CA-30)- 117,374 (60.4%) vs Howard Berman (D)- 77,003 (39.6%)
Henry Waxman (CA-33)- 171,860 (53.96%) vs Bill Bloomfield (I)- 146,660 (46.04%)
Gloria McLeod (CA-35)- 72,562 (55.9%) vs Joe Baca (Blue Dog)- 57,304 (44.1%)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40)- 125,553 (100%)
Maxine Waters (CA-43)- 200,894 (100%)
Janice Hahn (CA-44)- 82,577 (60.1%) vs Laura Richardson (D)- 54,852 (39.9%)
Alcee Hastings (FL-20)- 214,727 (87.9%) vs Randall Terry (I)- 29,553 (12.1%)
Ted Deutsch (FL-21)- 221,263 (77.8%) vs Michael Trout (I)- 63,137 (22.2%)
Richard Neal (MA-01)- 261,936 (98.42%) vs other- 4,197 (1.58%)
Jim McGovern (MA-02)- 259,257 (98.45) vs other- 4,078 (1.55%)
Mike Capuano (MA-07)- 210,794 (83.37%) vs Karla Romero (I)- 42,042 (16.63%)
Nydia Velazquez (NY-07)- 116,873 (94.48) vs James Murray (Conservative)- 6,823 (5.5%)
Marcia Fudge (OH-11)- 258,359 (100%)
Jim Clyburn (SC-06)- 218,717 (93.62%) vs Nammu Muhammad (Green)- 14,898 (6.38%)
Gene Green (TX-29)- 86,053 (90.0%) vs Jamey Stanczak (Libertarian)- 4,988 (5.2%)
Before we even suppose that an independent bid cost a major party candidate a seat, we have to understand that a Green running against a Democrat or a Conservative running against a Republican, is unlikely to attract voters who would have otherwise all voted for the major party opponent. Example, Green Party candidate Ursula Rozum attracted 21,327 votes (7.87%) and nearly cost New Dem Daniel Maffei the election. But those were predominantly progressive voters protesting against Maffei's record as a corporate whore and they wouldn't have otherwise gone to teabagger incumbent Ann Marie Buerkle. These are the districts where tight Democratic vs Republican races included independent candidates who got more votes that the difference between the two major party contestants:
AZ-01: Ann Kirkpatrick (D)- 122,774 (48.8%) vs Jonathan Paton 113,594 (45.15%) vs Kim Allen (Libertarian)- 15,227 (6.05%)
AZ-09: Kyrsten Sinema (D)- 121,881 (48.73%) vs Vernon Parker (R)- 111,630 (44.63%) vs Powell Gammill (Libertarian)- 16,620 (6.64%)
CO-06: Mike Coffman (R)- 163,922 (47.81%) vs Joe Miklosi (D)- 156,929 (45.77%) vs Kathy Polhemus (I) and Patrick Provost (Libertarian)- 22,039 (6.43%)
IL-13: Rodney Davis (R)- 137,034 (46.55%) vs David Gill (D)- 136,032 (46.21) vs John Hartman (I)- 21,319 (7.24%)
IN-02: Jackie Walorski (R)- 134,033 (49.01%) vs Brendan Mullen (Blue Dog)- 130,113 (47.58%) vs Joe Ruiz (Libertarian)- 9,326 (3.4%)
MA-06: John Tierney (D)- 180,942 (48.28%) vs Richard Tisei (R)- 176,612 (47.12%) vs Daniel Fishman (Libertarian)- 16,739 (4.3%)
MI-01: Dan Benishek (R)-167,060 (48.14%) vs Gary McDowell (Blue Dog)- 165,179 (47.6%) vs Emily Salvette (Libertarian)- 10,630 (3.1%) vs Ellis Boal (Green)- 4,168 (1.2%)
NH-01: Carol Shea-Porter (D)- 171,650 (49.75%) vs Frank Guinta (R)- 158,659 (45.99%) vs Brandan Kelly (Libertarian)- 14,521 (4.2%)
NY-24: Daniel Maffei (D)- 130,969 (48.35%) vs Ann Marie Buerkle (R)- 118,578 (43.78%) vs Ursula Rozum (Green)- 21,327 (7.87%)
UT-04: Jim Matheson (Blue Dog)- 119,803 (48.84%) vs Mia Love (R)- 119,035 (48.53%) vs Jim Vein (Libertarian)- 6,439 (2.63%)
We're just dealing in probabilities here but if any outcomes were changed it looks pretty certain that Libertarians cost the GOP five seats: AZ-01, AZ-09, MA-06, NH-01, UT-04, all of which were seats the Republicans spent gigantically on. And a conservative Independent who favors Simpson-Bowles, John Hartman, cost David Gill the IL-13 seat, a real tragedy.

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At 9:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A string of independents in the primary cost Norman Solomon a spot on the November ballot. He still might not have prevailed, but it would have been nice to get his message to the next level.

Sadly, especially among young folks, there is a growing "both parties suck so I won't vote for them" attitude. Even when there is an actual good Democratic candidate. I also think some of the Libertarian votes is coming from young, basically anti-war and pro-legalization folks, who are clueless about who actually controls that party. R-LOVE-ution my ass.

When I was at college I worked for the humor mag. Back issues showed Feinstein modeling high end clothes for local shops. She already was wearing those stupid bows. Never voted for her when I lived in CA either.

At 6:05 PM, Anonymous me said...

I still think our elections should be about who loses instead of who wins. Multi-round voting, with the bottom one or two candidates getting dropped each time.

That would eliminate the problem of "siphoned-off" votes leading to the election of someone who couldn't win a stand-up contest. We'd end up with the least offensive candidate, and face it, the problems we've had in recent decades are mostly due to offensive candidates.

Besides, people usually vote "against" rather than "for" anyway.

How about it? Have I overlooked a fatal flaw, or could this work?


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