Misconceptions of the 2018 Midterm Elections


Elections provide a reality check for political activists to measure their effectiveness and connection to the average voting citizen, and to clear any misconceptions they have of the ideological trends of society. The recent 2018 midterm election results plainly show who was overconfident and who overestimated their popularity among voters.

The #BlueWave

Typically during midterms, the major party opposite that which holds the presidency gains seats. Republicans gained seats under Obama, Democrats gained seats under Bush, and now Democrats have gained seats once again, this time under Trump. While they may have lost seats in the Senate, they gained enough in the House of Representatives to claim a majority, along with seven governor positions. Compared to former midterms, the “Blue Wave” description appears overblown. The actual results are closer to, as The Babylon Bee satirically labeled it, a “Gentle Mist.”

The #RedWave

When Democrats began predicting a blue wave, Republicans countered by predicting an opposing red wave. As we can see, this was even less true than the blue wave predictions. Republicans were not hurt as badly as predicted by the left, but they did lose the House. Partisans on either side of the political spectrum would benefit from taking a moment to compare their expectations with reality, and make sure they haven’t fallen into echo chambers that preached total confidence that their side would win.

The Libertarian Party

One of the most well known libertarian candidates during the midterm elections was Larry Sharpe, who lost his his New York gubernatorial race to the incumbent, Andrew Cuomo. Larry Sharpe was widely known (compared to other libertarian candidates) and appeared on numerous alternative media shows, ranging from as big as The Joe Rogan Experience to many small YouTube channels. Unfortunately, libertarians were disappointed to see him claim only 90,000 votes (1.6%).

On the bright side, Larry Sharpe did bring in enough votes to secure automatic ballot access for the Libertarian Party in the state of New York. At the very least, this loss had favorable long-term consequences.

Libertarians can also celebrate the re-election of Republican (but ideologically libertarian) representatives Thomas Massie of Kentucky’s 4th District and Justin Amash of Michigan’s 3rd District.

Former Governor of New Mexico and 2016 LP presidential candidate Gary Johnson did gain quite a few votes in his run for Senator of New Mexico, but still came in 3rd place, bringing in 105,000 votes (or 15.5%). Besides these results, Libertarian Party candidates failed to win any Governor, House, or Senate positions.

Regardless of the numbers, libertarians will no doubt face accusations of ruining elections from those with the misconception that major party candidates are entitled to votes given to third-party candidates.

Honorable Mention

Candidate Ron Bassilian, running for California’s 37th district, deserves an honorable mention for gaining 18,000 votes (nearly 12%). While this is certainly not a victory by any measure, it’s worthy of praise for a first-time candidate running as a Republican in a district within the very left-wing Los Angeles County. Ron may not be the ideal libertarian candidate, but he is the first liberalist (classical liberal) candidate, and any individualist wanting more freedom and less government would find a lot of common ground with him.

The results of the midterms might be a good sign for libertarians. The GOP’s loss of the house will create gridlock, which will block some of the more awful legislation supported solely by Republicans. Democrats may act as obstructionists similar to the GOP during the Obama administration. Unfortunately, many of the issues supported by both parties (like increased spending) tend to be the worst for the country. Those unhappy with the results should focus on strengthening their own arguments, learning their opponents’ arguments, and putting more time and effort into spreading their ideas.

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Nathan A. Kreider is author of the Misconceptions column for Being Libertarian, and has written for the Austrian Economics Center, the Foundation for Economic Education, and the Liberalists. He also occasionally publishes a blog and video content, including short book reviews, which can be found on his website, nkreider.com. He can be contacted by email via [email protected]