Could a third party candidate be the spoiler in North Carolina’s tight election for U.S. Senate in November?
Libertarian candidate Sean Haugh, a pizza delivery man, has been peeling away votes in recent polling on the tight race for U.S. Senate between Republican Thom Tillis and incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), a Wednesday report in INDYWeek highlights.
In Public Policy Polling’s most recent North Carolina Senate survey, Hagan led Tillis by four percentage points — 44 percent to Tillis’ 40 percent. Haugh pulled in 5 percent of that vote.
To be sure, Haugh’s impact in September had dropped from the 11 percent support PPP found he had in June. When PPP had Haugh voters choose between Hagan or Tillis in September, Hagan still maintained a 46 percent to 42 percent lead over Tillis.
Another September poll from the Civitas Institute also found that Hagan would win against Tillis in a head-to-head match up, with Hagan taking 47 percent of the vote to Tillis 46 percent, well within the margin of error. When Haugh was thrown into the mix, Hagan won by a slightly larger margin with 46 percent of the vote to Tillis’ 43 percent and the libertarian pizza deliveryman took 5 percent.
PPP Polling director Tom Jensen told INDYWeek that as the election gets closer people are more likely to side with one of the two major candidates.
“He started out in a very good position for a Libertarian, getting 11 percent,” said Jensen told the paper. “As summer has progressed, we’ve seen his support cut in half to 5 percent. That’s not unusual for a third-party candidate, as it gets closer to the election and voters want to get behind someone who can actually win.”
While Haugh is a pizza delivery man with no chance of winning, he has run for the seat before — INDYWeek notes that in 2002 he won 1.45 percent of the vote — and is adamant that he can and will win.
And while he really has no shot — recently calling a potential voter an “ignorant moron” on Facebook, according to The Daily Caller — he could have an impact.
“Haugh still has a pretty good chance to break the all-time record for the most support a Libertarian candidate receives in North Carolina,” Jensen told INDYWeek. “It’s a reflection of the fact that voters don’t really like Kay Hagan or Thom Tillis and they’re turned off by all the negativity. That puts people in the position where they’re more willing than usual to support a third-party candidate like Haugh.”