Libertarian gubernatorial candidate talks fiscal, social policy
Sarvis' poll numbers will not translate to Election Day , Skelley says
Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Robert Sarvis spoke to University students and community members Thursday evening, discussing his role as a third-party candidate in the November election. The event was hosted by the Liberty Coalition, a student organization that advocates classical liberalism and the Libertarian party.
Sarvis discussed his positions on a wide range of issues, making a point to distinguish himself from Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate.
Ultimately, Sarvis said, his election would mean less government regulation in the marketplace.
“In order to get our economy going again, we have to have an open and competitive market in every industry,” Sarvis said.
Sarvis also said much of Virginia’s economic hardship stems from leadership that does not understand economic realities.
“When you don’t have people who understand the problem, you get no prioritization of issues,” Sarvis said.
Sarvis also discussed his position on the civil liberties, advocating marijuana legalization and allowing same-sex marriage in the state.
“The government ought to make marriage equal to all, no matter of sex,” Sarvis said. “Same-sex marriage should be offered on an equal basis.”
Sarvis continuously referenced his opponents in the race — McAuliffe and Cuccinelli — expressing his confidence that his platform was the strongest of the three, notably his stance on health care.
“The Libertarian approach is superior to both Democrats’ and Republicans’, because it will protect workers from [the] connection [of] employment with insurance, from charges that raise the price of insurance,” Sarvis said.
Fourth-year College student Dylan Brewer, the president of the Liberty Coalition, said that it was important for students to hear Sarvis’ perspective regardless of his effect on the prevailing two-party system.
“We just want to give students a chance to hear from another candidate apart from Cuccinelli and McAuliffe,” Brewer said. “Robert Sarvis is polling around 10 percent, which is pretty incredible for a third-party candidate.”
Third parties have been historically marginalized in Virginia elections, and have traditionally had little chance of winning major elections, Center for Politics spokesperson Geoffrey Skelley said.
“The last time someone not running expressly as a Democrat or Republican won a gubernatorial election in Virginia was in the 19th century,” Skelley said.
If anything, Sarvis’ candidacy will likely hurt Cuccinelli’s chances of winning the election, Skelley said.
“Studies and polls show that voters who vote for Libertarians are more likely to vote for Republicans, so Cuccinelli is hurt by Sarvis’ candidacy more than McAuliffe,” Skelley said.
But third-year College student Elizabeth Minneman, the president of College Republicans, said this view is oversimplified.
“I think that it’s unfortunate that people think that’s true,” Minneman said. “I think he pulls [votes] from both sides.”
Brewer agreed that it is possible Sarvis would take votes from Cuccinelli, but said the effect would not be significant.
“I think that it’s theoretically possible that Sarvis is siphoning votes away from Cucinelli and toward McAuliffe,” Brewer said. “I don’t think that those would make the necessary difference for Cucinelli to win.”
Though a polling average of around 10 percent may be encouraging to Sarvis supporters, Skelley said the statistic likely would not reflect actual voter support on Election Day.
“I do think that Sarvis’ support is soft and that he will not get 10 percent of the vote,” Skelley said. “This is because voters like to vote for someone they think actually has a chance of winning, causing them to strategically vote even if they are not 100 percent okay with their choice. Third-party and independent candidates often poll much better than they perform on Election Day, and I think Sarvis will do the same.”