Home 2013 races What You Should Know About Sarvis Voters, And Why They Matter

What You Should Know About Sarvis Voters, And Why They Matter


( – promoted by lowkell)

Put away your preconceived notions of libertarians; most Sarvis voters have never picked up “Atlas Shrugged” in their life (and save yourself the trouble too, read something enjoyable!). As the dust settles on this Democratic sweep of the Commonwealth, let us take a look at Sarvis voters and what they actually mean.

Voter turnout was up because of Sarvis

2,000,819 Virginians turned out to vote in 2009, including 2,502 who wrote-in a candidate. Turnout was only 42% of active voters. Four years later, 2,240,178 Virginians voted, for turnout of 47%. But turnout with just the two-major party gubernatorial candidates was just 43%. Most of the increase in turnout came from the 145,967 Sarvis voters.

Most Sarvis voters wouldn’t have voted otherwise.

Without Sarvis on the ballot, the race would have been 48% Terry McAuliffe, 46% Ken Cuccinelli, and 5% wouldn’t have voted. Do the math and election day would have been McAuliffe 51%, Cuccinelli 49%. Two and a half times as many Sarvis voters would have gone to McAuliffe over Cuccinelli, but most wouldn’t have voted at all.

Sarvis voters are overwhelmingly white and young.

Not only are Sarvis voters mostly white, a whopping 15% of the 18 to 29 cohort voted for Sarvis. It was also the cohort that McAuliffe improved the least over Creigh Deeds from 2009. What motivated so many younger votes to reject the two party system?

They are independent.

Helping to explain why they would vote for a third-party candidate or not vote at all, most Sarvis supporters affiliated themselves as independent voters, not members of either the Democratic or Republican Party.

More called themselves liberal than conservative, but most are moderates. Among the partisans who backed Sarvis, both liberal Democrats and moderate Republicans were more likely to go with Sarvis.

There were more self-identified Democrats who voted for Sarvis than who voted for Cuccinelli, and most of them would call themselves “liberal Democrats” instead of “moderate” or “conservative” Democrats. On the other side, almost as many self-identified Republicans voted for Sarvis as voted for McAuliffe. They too were more likely to identify as “liberal” or “moderate.”

They are more likely to not be born-again Christians, more likely to believe abortion should be legal, and less likely to approve of the Tea Party.

How’s that for a profile? Over 80% of Sarvis supporters do not identify as born-again Christians. Over 80% believed abortion should be legal. And here’s the big surprise: less than 20% support the Tea Party, while almost half oppose the Tea Party.

They split down-ballot.

Sarvis voters did not uniformly swing to one candidate over another in the LG and AG races, but they did tend to favor Northam over Jackson, and Obenshain over Herring.

White, younger voters who are pro-choice and are not big fans of the Tea Party. They are unhappy with politics as usual and don’t identify with either party. And they were open to voting for both parties down-ballot.

Doesn’t this sound like a prime swing vote to you?

Consider this, Sarvis ran strongest outside of Northern Virginia. As Democrats look to find success beyond Northern Virginia, shouldn’t they look to young, pro-choice voters who are not part of the Tea Party?

Before the election, Lowell made an effort to reveal the wizards behind the Sarvis curtain, the influence of the Koch brothers and others. But for the most part, Terry McAuliffe’s campaign ignored the Sarvis campaign. From my own perspective of the campaign, Sarvis ran as an anti-establishment outsider who opposed the socially intolerant agenda of Cuccinelli while vaguely made references to McAuliffe as a corrupt political insider. These voters were disengaged from the two parties, but not entirely disengaged from the political process–they still voted! Virginia Democrats should find ways to court these sorts of voters, while realizing that they are hardly “libertarian.” Sarvis and the Libertarian Party was the vehicle for their protest, not their ideological brethren.  

  • Constable Fraser

    are NOT pro-choice!  And as for “younger, pro-choice voters” opting for Obenshain over Herring, why would they do that if they actually were pro-choice?

    It was Obenshain who introduced legislation to require women to report miscarriages to the police within 24 hours or go to jail for a year. He later withdrew that legislation. Two years earlier, in 2005, some Republican cat named Cosgrove introduced similar legislation, but required reporting miscarriages to the police within 48 hours. I know a woman who almost single-handedly brought about the downfall of that little piece of filthy proposed legislation.

    I do NOT vote for woman haters! If some man running for office hates women and holds them in contempt, he and his party will never get my vote nor the vote of anyone in my family. (The other seven voters in my family pretty much vote the way I advise them to–they don’t have time to keep up with politics, and they know that I do.)

    Years ago I started questioning one of LaRouche’s supporters who was handing out info pieces at the local fair. When I quested her about choice she fell apart–didn’t know what to say.

    Perhaps the younger voters didn’t like McAuliffe. A lot of people would have preferred to vote for a different Democrat, but there wasn’t one available. I am extremely pleased that the woman-hater Cuccinelli did not win the election. If we want to attract young voters to the Democratic party, we need to start looking at some powerhouse candidates for to run for governor in 2017.

  • blue bronc

    This is what the Green Party could achieve if it modified the platform a little bit.  My youngest son would be a Sarvis voter under the right circumstances.  He has explored many parties, including the screwball stuff of Ralph Nader (I gave him more material about Ralph than was on the website and saved that vote).

  • Elaine in Roanoke

    Sarvis ran his campaign with a phony “moderate” message. He portrayed himself as the moderate outsider, running against guys who represented the old, corrupt politics. I don’t remember at any point that Sarvis emphasized what libertarians actually stand for. Yes, they are (for the most part) opposed to the government regulating personal behavior like drug use; however, many libertarians are decidedly anti-choice based on fetal rights.

    I was quite amused that Sarvis never promoted the economic aspects of libertarianism, and the sheep-like corporate media never did, either. Many of those young people who voted in protest for Sarvis probably would not have if they had seen him actually run on libertarian “principles.”

    You are quite right that the Democratic Party should try to appeal to those young voters, but that will require that the party recognize that it, just like the Republicans, has served the interests of “the Big Boys” (as Henry Howell called them), not the interests of the working class and the middle class. There is a brewing outrage among those who have seen good jobs shipped overseas and have seen their wages stagnate for the last decade or so. I hope the Democrats do address that outrage because it can be dangerous to our democracy to ignore it.