Revolution

1996 Libertarian Campaigns

Summary

All in all, 1996 was a banner year for the Libertarian Party. The party set new membership and candidate records, built upon its base of support, and saw its ideas included in mainstream politics like never before in this century.

In the presidential race, the Libertarian ticket of Harry Browne and Jo Jorgensen received 485,798 votes (0.5% of the total). This was the second-best Libertarian showing ever. The LP became the first third party ever to be on all fifty state ballots two presidential elections in a row.

In an election season widely characterized as boring, voter turnout was the lowest since 1824, at 49%. However, minor parties were exceptionally strong, with more candidates on the ballot than usual and stronger minor candidates for President than usual.

Highlights:

Winning campaigns.
The party's number of appointed and elected officeholders topped 170 even before the November elections. From January to April 1996, nearly twenty Libertarians were elected or appointed to various nonpartisan offices. In November, two Libertarians were re-elected to nonpartisan office in California (one to a utilities district board and one as a county supervisor).

Senate races.
The LP's best results were Ken Blevens's 4% showing in New Hampshire and Jack Cashin's 4% in Georgia. Both of those races held the balance of power, which often gives the state affiliate bargaining power in future political decisions.

Governors races.
Wallace Johnson's 3% showing in West Virginia earns major party status in that state, one of the toughest for ballot access.

U.S. House races.
Best results were Richard Eaton's 25% in Maine, Robert Anderson's 6% in Arizona and Emil Rossi's 7% in California. Eaton's was a two-way race, and each of the others held the balance of power.

Other partisan races.
The best results that I heard about are Karen Benson's 34% county council showing in Indiana, Richard Eaton's 25% showing for Maine State Representative and Carol Hill's 22% for county commission in Colorado. Quite a few candidates received between 15% and 20% for various state level races (state house, state senate and state supreme court).

Other nonpartisan races.
Two Libertarians were re-elected to county and local office in California. A Libertarian came in second with 33% for Colorado Regional Transportation District.

Other important facts for the party.
The party ran a record 775 candidates in the November elections, including 170 for Congress. Paid membership doubled from 1994 to 1996, to record levels. Libertarian candidates received endorsements from a wide range of groups.

The year was not entirely cheery for libertarians, however. Many libertarians expected Browne to get close to 1%, and the Party lost ballot status in four states -- New Hampshire, Hawaii, Illinois and Massachusetts -- while gaining it in only one, West Virginia. Increased competition from other minor party candidates resulted in lower average vote totals.


Campaigns By State

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Iowa
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming