In 2004, I calculated that a bare minimum of 129,717 North Carolina voters cast a vote for at least one Libertarian on the ballot. I achieved this by taking the largest vote total for us statewide (Christopher Cole for Lt. Governor), looking at counties where a Libertarian received more votes, and adding those to the total after subtracting Cole’s votes for that county.
I just did that again for our 2008 totals. This time, it was Mark McMains, who ran for Commissioner of Insurance, who garnered the most votes statewide (153,515). Using the same method, I have calculated the minimum number of North Carolina voters who voted for at least one balloted Libertarian. Caveats and analysis are below the fold, but I’ll go ahead and give you the total:
Again, these are unique votes for at least one balloted Libertarian, and is a minimum. The real number is certainly higher, although there’s no way to tell by how much.
To begin with, the caveats:
First of all, these are unofficial results. The official results won’t be available until canvassing in all districts is completed.
This calculation, like the one in 2004, makes the assumption that everyone who voted for McMains also voted for the Libertarian with the most votes in this county and vice-versa. This is absolutely not the case, as I know of one for certain who voted for other Libertarians but not McMains (yes, yours truly; see my blog entry where I say whom I’m voting for and why–I didn’t add my single lone vote, though. I stuck with verifiable data). So we can expect the real number to be greater than the total calculated.
As was the case last time, I only had county-by-county data to go by. Some counties had state offices that were split, and although the vote totals for many state Libertarian candidates were lower than McMains’s, they may have been higher if the precincts in the district themselves were counted. Nonetheless, there were two counties (Forsyth and Wake) where two different Libertarian candidates in separate districts had a combined total greater than McMains’s. This strongly suggests that our total is much greater than calculated.
Now for the analysis:
The raw vote total is 129% of 2004’s. McMains’s total of 153,515 was 272% of Cole’s 2004 total of 56,368. Comparing apples to apples, the 2008 Libertarian candidate for Lt. Governor, Phillip Rhodes, received 126,074 votes, 224% of Cole’s.
Other candidates added 14,339 votes to McMains’s total. This accounts for 8.5% of the total votes calculated. This is much lower than in 2004, where other candidates comprised 56.5% of the total. This strongly suggests that the lack of ballot access–and the lack of funds due to gaining ballot access and fighting the lawsuit–severely constrained the party’s ability to run local candidates and market itself. If enough local candidates had run and received enough votes to contribute the same proportion of the total as they did in 2004, this would have brought the total up to over 350,000, which would have represented an overall increase of 270%.
In 2004, there were 5,523,239 registered voters, and turnout was reported at 64%, which means an estimated 3,534,873 people voted. Our vote total in 2004 was therefore 3.6% of the vote. This year, the state reported 4,354,052 ballots cast. Our total this year represents 3.9% of the vote. If the local candidates had contributed the same increase as in 2004, this would have been approximately 8.0% of the vote.
The county with the greatest number of additional votes is Wake, with 4,492 votes added to the total. This is the result of votes for both Jan MacKay, candidate for Sate Senate District 15, who got 4,602 votes from Wake County voters, and Brian Irving, candidate for State Senate District 17, with 17,441. Their combined total of 22,043 votes was 4,492 greater than McMains’s total of 17,551 in the same county.
The county with the second greatest contribution is also the county with the greatest contribution from a single candidate. It was Jeffrey Ober’s run for State House District 95 that garnered 5,304 votes from Iredell County voters, increasing our total by 2,229 votes.
In third and fourth place are Graham and Forsythe Counties, with 1,963 and 1,012 votes added, respectively. In Graham County, this is due to Barbara Howe’s run for State House District 32, and in Forsythe County from Bobby Richmond and Clay Morris’s races for State House Districts 71 and 73, respectively.
Unusually, Christopher Cole’s votes for US Senate was greater than McMains’s in 23 of North Carolina’s 100 counties, adding a combined total of 938 votes. Special note should also be given to our Gubernatorial candidate Mike Munger, who added 967 votes to the total, and Rachel Joiner Merrill, candidate for State Senate District 8, who added 891.
The overall increase in statewide vote totals for Libertarian candidates, in light of the LPNC’s inability to do any real marketing this election year, strongly indicates increasing dissatisfaction with Democrats and Republicans among North Carolina voters. This demonstrates the potential for local candidates to meet or even exceed their 2004 totals and proportions in 2010 and 2012. Now that ballot access is ensured for that period, the prospect for Libertarian candidates in North Carolina has never been brighter.