White House Battle: Does Libertarian Earn ‘Spoiler’ Tag?

Democrat Joe Biden is gaining ground in key battleground states. if he wins, does some credit go to Libertarian Joe Jorgensen for pulling votes away from President Trump?

As new returns flow in from key battleground states in the race for president, Democrat Joe Biden has edged ahead in Michigan and Nevada and has been declared the winner in Wisconsin, and a close look at returns for Libertarian Jo Jorgensen will almost inevitably bring complaints that she was a spoiler, especially if President Donald Trump is defeated.

In Michigan, the Wednesday morning count at Fox News saw Jorgensen pulling in more than 58,500 votes, enough to have given the president a mild lead.

In Wisconsin, Jorgensen’s more than 38,400 votes, as reported Wednesday morning would also have also put the president ahead, but without those votes, Biden reportedly captured the prize. The Trump campaign will be requesting a recount, according to Fox News.

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The Pennsylvania margin for Trump was shifting in Biden’s direction, but Jorgensen’s 67,800-plus votes would have given Trump’s returns additional padding. As this was published, the president was still ahead but not nearly by the number of votes he led by Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, the North Carolina count would be well in Trump’s favor if he had Jorgensen’s more than 47,200 votes on his tally sheet.

On the other hand, Jorgensen’s 34,211 votes in Minnesota would not have been enough to swing that state to Trump, according to Fox News data.

Out in Nevada, Jorgensen’s 13,000-plus votes Wednesday morning would be giving the president a slight lead.

The term “spoiler” has long been hung on any third party candidate by supporters of a major party candidate who loses, but this seems to be especially so for Republicans. Back in 1992, Democrat Bill Clinton had enough momentum for a while that Texas billionaire Ross Perot dropped out temporarily in July. But when then-President George Bush looked to be gaining ground, Perot re-entered. The final tally saw Clinton with more than 44 million votes, Bush pulling in just over 39 million and Perot literally draining away 19.7 million votes, the majority of which many believed would have gone to Bush, despite the frustration among some voters over his switch on taxes.

Any such election in which a third party candidate collects a healthy enough number of votes to have possibly shifted the results boils down to doing the math. Is it a fair criticism of third party candidates and the voters who support them?

It is a question that will never likely be answered to anyone’s satisfaction.

In a perfect world, Jorgensen or any Third Party candidate such as the Green Party’s Howie Hawkins would earn accolades for pulling in so many votes from supporters that their presence on the ballot was enough to sway an election outcome. Nobody honestly could believe any such candidate has even a remote chance of winning a national election, but such a candidacy provides disenchanted or disenfranchised voters an avenue to express their frustrations while exercising an important right.

But this year there is another problem. According to a new Rasmussen Reports survey, “few voters expect us all to get along after Election Day. A Trump win is expected to trigger a more violent reaction than a Biden victory.”

Rasmussen is reporting Wednesday, “Just 27% of Likely U.S. Voters think Trump supporters and Biden supporters are likely to find common ground on many of the major issues facing the nation, and that includes only eight percent (8%) who say it’s Very Likely. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 68% consider common ground between the two sides unlikely, with 31% who say it’s Not at All Likely.”

Do third party candidates and voters share some of the blame? Not likely, because extremists on both sides, and particularly on the far left, have been demonstrating over the past several months a proclivity for violent behavior up to and including murder in Portland and Seattle. Third party politics has nothing to do with the political fireworks that have unfolded this year, and arguing otherwise will not change that.


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