Are Third Party Candidates Helping OR Democrats Keep Power?
Now I am not here to to make a moral statement on third parties and third party candidates, but looking over the election results in Oregon it is clear to see that a number of races could have ended differently had those third party candidates not been in the race.
In the race for Senate District 5 of the Oregon State Senate Republican Dick Anderson challenged Oregon political institution Arnie Roblan. While Anderson only lost that race by only 334 votes, another 2,537 votes went to Libertarian Party candidate Dan Souza. Assuming those Libertarian voters would be more like to vote for the Republican candidate should Mr. Souza not have appeared on the ballot, it is not unreasonable to assume that Mr. Souza's presence swung the result of the race.
In House District 9, which just so happens to be part of Senate District 5, Republican Teri Grier came within of 1,095 votes of unseating Democrat Caddy McKeown. In that race Libertarian candidate Guy Rosinbaum received 1,172 votes. Now it is not likely that all of Mr. Rosinbaum's votes would have gone to Teri Grier had he not been on the ballot, but I think we can safely say that the race would have been closer.
Finally in the State Treasurer's races, As of now Republican Jeff Gudman lost to Democrat Tobias Read by 42,184 votes, but not quite all the precincts are reported yet, so that number is not final. What is clear though is that former Republican legislator and Independent candidate for Treasurer Chris Telfer received around 9% of the vote currently recorded at 171,438. Assuming that the voters for former Telfer, who served in the Oregon Legislature as a Republican would have preferred for vote for Republican candidate Jeff Gudman over Democrat Tobias Read in Telfer's absence, Republicans could have had two big statewide wins this election.
If we work under the assumption that Libertarian and Constitution Party candidates hurt Republicans, Progressive and Green Party candidates hurt Democrats, and that Independents depended on whether the individual running leans right or left, it is pretty clear that Republicans in Oregon are hurt by third parties much more than Democrats are.
5 Libertarians ran for the State Senate this year and another 15 ran for the State House. Compare that to the 2 Progressive Party candidates and 2 Pacific Green candidates for the State House and the 1 Progressive Party candidate for the State Senate. Almost all of the Progressive and Green Party candidates ran in either safe Republican or safe Democrat seats, so they did not have much effect on the end result. Very different than in the races mentioned above, where the third party candidate likely changed the result of the race.
So we have to ask the question: Are third parties helping Oregon Democrats keep a grip on power? At least for this election cycle, it seems clear that the presence of third parties on the ballot definitely hurt Republican candidates more than it hurt Democrats. Without third parties on the ballot Republicans could have possibly picked up another seat and and each the House and the Senate and won the State Treasurer's race, which would have given Oregon Republican's control of the State Land Board.
But hey third party supporters, don't get mad at me, I've been advocating a move to Ranked Choice Voting for years to avoid these exact situations.