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Thursday, June 17, 2010


Our chapter on political parties discusses the role of minor parties. The Daily Caller reports on recent developments for the Libertarians:

It’s becoming a more familiar story: Voters, frustrated by the anti-incumbent malaise sweeping the political landscape, turn on incumbents and put their weight behind underdogs. Although good management and fundraising certainly play a role in party growth, today’s zeitgeist could help make a Libertarian boom out of the two-party bust.

For the 2010 election, 171 candidates for U.S. Congress are running with an “L” beside their names, up from 127 in 2008 and 114 in 2006. At all levels of public office, the party counts 716 candidates running as Libertarians this year, compared to 593 in 2008, and 596 in 2006.

Wes Benedict, executive director of the Libertarian National Committee, said that some of these declared candidates might not meet the requirements to be placed on the ballot. The party will add new candidates up until the election, though, and he thinks the final candidate number could remain above 700.

Read more:
But now all is bright for minor parties. California voters just passed a "top-two" primary in which candidates from all parties run in one big mid-year primary and the top two finishers -- regardless of party -- end up on the November ballot. George Will writes:

In areas where Democrats or Republicans dominate -- there are more and more of them as the nation increasingly sorts itself out into clusters of the like-minded -- the November ballots will offer voters a choice of two Democrats or two Republicans. Voters with sensitive political palates can savor faintly variant flavors of liberalism or conservatism.

Voters who prefer their political menu seasoned with the spices provided by minor parties are pretty much out of luck. Under Proposition 14, such parties -- Green, Libertarian, etc. -- which previously could place candidates on November ballots, will almost always be excluded from those by failing to run first or second in primaries.