Reid Wilson, at the Washington Post, regales us with seven U.S. senatorial races where Libertarian Party candidates could swing elections, and thus control of the Senate. Last weekend at Townhall, I exhorted readers to work for transpartisan reforms “like term limits . . . and other measures aimed at greater representation, [such as] establishing ranked choice voting.”
The two articles are not unrelated.
Conservatives and libertarians are often united in wanting to replace progressive Democrats with small-government contenders. But they are not united in how to do this. Many libertarians balk at voting for hardline social conservative candidates like Rick Santorum and middle-of-the-road statists like John McCain.
So the Libertarian Party runs candidates that have in recent elections gained traction with voters — enough to pull independent voters away from Republicans and sometimes enabling Democrats to win.
Republican entreaties to libertarians (“you’re killing us out here!”) appear to be no more effective than libertarian entreaties to Republicans (“want our support? try taking your limited government stances seriously!”).
What to do? Republican partisans should support Instant Runoff Voting, which would
- Allow people to rank their choices for office, and
- Instruct vote-counters to take the votes of those who selected a No. 1 pick of, say, a Libertarian who garnered the smallest number of votes, and add those ballots’ second ranked vote (either for a D or an R) as the vote to count in the “instant runoff.”
This would allow for better expression of voter preference, solving the “wasted vote” problem and ceasing to make the “best the enemy of the good.”
Alternately, Republicans could continue their course, trying to limit ballot access, thereby alienating more of the electorate and ensuring that Libertarian votes can’t also be Republican votes.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.