by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
TIME magazine is the latest national outlet to suggest that Libertarian Sean Haugh might help swing this fall’s U.S. Senate race in North Carolina to incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan. In a brief article headlined “Revenge of the Also-Rans,” TIME lists Haugh among a number of potential third-party spoilers.
Ten of the 12 Senate seats with the potential to swing in November have drawn third-party challengers. Nine of those races have Libertarian Party candidates who are likely to pull votes from Republicans. That’s hardly news for Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, who is hoping his party can take six seats and regain control of the Senate, but who may have to contend with a Libertarian challenger of his own in Kentucky’s general election.
The question now is how much of a difference third-party hopefuls will make in the outcome of the fall contests. In the razor-thin race in Georgia, outside candidates like Libertarian Amanda Swafford, a paralegal and former city councilwoman who started her own newspaper, have drawn up to 7% of the vote in early polls. In North Carolina, Libertarian Sean Haugh, a pizza deliveryman, has rated in the high single digits in early polls, far more than the gap separating the two major-party candidates there.
Of course, an accurate forecast of the November election is easier said than done at this point.