Opinion: Are third parties threatening Republican wins?


Jennifer Hutchinson is a sophomore political science major and a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]

Jennifer Hutchinson

For all those who thought third parties were down for the count this election, it looks like they couldn’t have been more wrong.

While the Tea Party may not be as involved as it was in 2010, a recent Gallup Poll indicates that 73 percent of Tea Party supporters are very or extremely motivated to vote in the midterms. That’s in comparison to a smaller majority of Republicans who do not identify with the Tea Party, 57 percent, who say the same.

NBC News reported that in Louisiana Tea Party candidate, Rob Manes for U.S. for U.S. senator, has 9 percent of the vote, according to the CNN/ORC poll. His hand in the race will likely prevent Republican Bill Cassidy or Democratic incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu from garnering the majority of the vote and send that contest to a runoff in December.

Libertarians are making their mark this election season as well. With Republicans hoping to win back the Senate in November, they have been paying close attention to Libertarian candidate Sean Haugh of North Carolina, who has been winning over a small but important fraction of voters.

While there is little chance Haugh will win the race, polling shows it is possible he could end up gathering enough support from Republican candidate Thom Tillis to tip the election in favor of Democratic incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan.

In addition, Amanda Swafford, the Libertarian candidate from Georgia, may prevent Republican David Perdue from reaching the 50 percent vote threshold. Without that 50 percent, we could see a potential runoff in Georgia in January 2015.

There are a number of close races this election and Republicans are concerned that even just a few percentage points being pulled by third party candidates may take from the GOP could cost the party key states, as well as in the Senate

Oftentimes the reason we see support for third parties, such as the Tea Party or the Libertarian Party, is because citizens are fed up with Republicans and Democrats.

However, the simple fact is that this does more harm than good. We can’t continue this Republican infighting. The Tea Party, specifically, is credited with helping the GOP take control of the House of Representatives in 2010, and for the most part, the Tea Party advocates for Republican ideologies, such as free enterprise, limited government and spending cuts.

However, after bearing much of the blame for the recent government shutdown, as well as an uncompromising attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, the Tea Party has become more of a liability to the Republican Party than anything else.

To promote your ideologies you have to win elections, but Republican wins could be in danger with the third parties siphoning off votes.

Contact Jennifer Hutchinson at [email protected].

Editor’s note: Column has been revised to include missing attribution to NBC News.