The Libertarian Party
Our History The Libertarian Party is the third largest political party in the United States. Millions of Americans have voted for Libertarian Party candidates in past elections throughout the country, despite the fact that many state governments place roadblocks in our path to keep our candidates off the ballot and deprive voters of a real choice.
Libertarians believe the answer to America's political problems is the same commitment to freedom that earned America its greatness: a free-market economy and the abundance and prosperity it brings; a dedication to civil liberties and personal freedom; and a foreign policy of non-intervention, peace, and free trade as prescribed by America's founders.
What began with a small group of activists in Colorado has become America's third largest political party. We are proud of our heritage and the progress we have made since 1971. And the best is yet to come!
Historical Overview1971 - After meeting several times in the home of David F. Nolan, eight activists decide to found the Libertarian Party on December 11 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
1972 - First national convention is held in June in Denver, Colorado. John Hospers, a philosophy professor at the University of Southern California, is nominated as presidential candidate. Libertarian Party vice presidential candidate Tonie Nathan becomes the first woman in U.S. history to receive an electoral vote.
1976 - Presidential candidate Roger MacBride and running mate David Bergland gain ballot status in 32 states and receive over 170,000 votes. Newsweek magazine notes that Libertarians are gaining “unique appeal on both the left and right.”
1978 - Ed Clark receives 5 percent of the vote in his race for governor of California. Dick Randolph of Alaska becomes the first elected Libertarian state legislator. Presidential nominating convention held in Los Angeles. Ed Clark and David Koch named presidential and vice presidential candidates. Permanent ballot status achieved in California as more than 80,000 voters register Libertarian.
1980 - Ed Clark appears on the ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and earns almost 1 million votes. His campaign runs extensive national television ads and offers many Americans their first look at what the Libertarian Party has to offer. At the same time, Dick Randolph is re-elected to the Alaska state legislature. Ken Fanning is also elected to the Alaska legislature.
1982 - Louisiana congressional candidate James Agnew receives 23 percent of the vote. Alaska gubernatorial candidate Dick Randolph receives 15 percent of the vote. Arizona gubernatorial candidate Sam Steiger receives 5 percent of the vote.
1984 - On the ballot in 39 states, David Bergland and Jim Lewis come in third in the race for president for the first time in party history. Andre Marrou becomes the third Libertarian elected to the Alaska legislature. Eleven other Libertarians are elected nationwide.
1986 - 200 candidates across the U.S. receive 2.9 million votes. Ray Cullen, candidate for California Treasurer, gets 570,000 votes, the largest ever for a third-party candidate in that state.
1987 - Libertarians sweep the city council race in Big Water, Utah, winning every seat. Former Texas Rep. Ron Paul resigns from the GOP and joins the Libertarian Party. Seattle convention nominates Ron Paul for president and Andre Marrou for vice president.
1988 - Ron Paul, on the ballot in 46 states and the District of Columbia, comes in third for the U.S. presidency. He receives more than 430,000 votes – almost twice the total of any other third party candidate.
1990 - Approximately 2 million people vote for the LP candidates. Elections Day is “Double Digit Day,” as many LP candidates for the Congress and state house draw percentages in the teens, ‘20s and ‘30s. New Mexico state legislature candidate Illa Mae Bolton gets 31 percent of the vote, and California congressional candidate Joe Shea receives 27 percent.
1991 - New Hampshire state legislators Cal Warburton and Finlay Rothhaus resign from the Republican Party and join the Libertarian Party. Chicago nominating convention names Andre Marrou and Nancy Lord as its presidential and vice presidential nominees, respectively.
1992 - In the New Hampshire primary, Andre Marrou beats incumbent President George Bush in Dixville Notch, the first town to vote in the nation. In the general election, four Libertarian state legislators are elected in New Hampshire. In addition to the re-election of Warburton and Rothhaus, Don Gorman and Andy Borsa are elected. Once again, the party’s presidential ticket is on the ballot in 50 states and the District of Columbia.
1993 - LP National Director Stuart Reges testifies before Congress, endorsing legislation to make it easier for third party candidates to appear in presidential debates. In “off-year” elections, 15 Libertarians win public office. Mariam Luce is appointed to the New Hampshire State Liquor Commission, and Bonnie Flickinger is elected Mayor of Moreno Valley, Calif.
1994 - More than 40 Libertarians are elected or appointed, setting a record, and LP activists participate in the successful effort to stop President Clinton’s takeover of the nation’s health care system. In November, more than 650 Libertarian candidates run for office, and more than 2.2 million people vote Libertarian.
1995 - Membership and voter registrations soar to record levels. The LP moves its national headquarters into the prestigious Watergate Office Building, which the Wall Street Journal dubs “a sign of the times” of the party’s growing stature. In November, three more Libertarians are elected to city councils; Bruce Van Buren (Avondale Estates, Georgia), Dewayne Methaney (Auburn, Georgia), and Doug Carsten (Brighton, Colorado).
1996 - The Libertarian Party becomes the first third party in U.S. history to earn ballot status in all 50 states two presidential elections in a row. The presidential nominating convention in Washington, DC, chooses best-selling author Harry Browne, who goes on to win nearly 486,000 votes – the second-best showing in party history. LP candidates for statewide and federal office alone win 5.4 million votes, and seven Libertarians are elected or re-elected.
1997 - Another record-setting “off year” election for the party, with 39 Libertarians elected to office in November – including four city council winners: Fred Collins (Berkley, Michigan); Ron Wittig (New Meadows, Idaho); Bob DeBrosse (Picqua, Ohio); and John Gearheart (Palous, Washington).
1998 - African-American civil rights leader Roy Innis and talk radio powerhouse Art Bell join the party. In California, Art Oliver becomes Mayor of Bellflower, while in Georgia, Dewayne Methaney is elevated to acting Mayor of Auburn. In November, the party sets a new record by running 853 candidates in 44 states. Neil Randall wins election as a state representative in Vermont. In all, 19 LP candidates are elected.
1999 - The party breaks new ground in political activism with its Internet-based campaign against the FDIC’s proposed “Know Your Customer” bank-spying regulation. After being flooded by 250,000 complaints, the FDIC withdraws the plan. The International Biographical Center in England names party founder David Nolan one of the “2,000 Outstanding Intellectuals of the 20th Century.” Fourteen Libertarians are elected locally.
2000 - The Anaheim, California, convention again nominates Harry Browne for president and Art Olivier for vice president. They head a ticket of 1,436 LP candidates, including 256 candidates for U.S. House – the first time in 80 years a third party has contested a majority of Congressional seats. Those Libertarian U.S. House candidates get over 1.7 million votes. The LP presidential ticket gets 382,892 votes, and 34 Libertarians are elected.
2001 - In November, the party runs about 300 candidates – a record slate in an “off-year” election – and a record 76 Libertarians are elected. A study in Ballot Access News reports that the LP is the most successful third party in 50 years, based on the “best” vote totals of candidates for U.S. Senate and governor. The number of Libertarians holding office, including appointed offices, nears 500.
2002 - The party runs 1,642 candidates for office, the largest slate of third-party candidates since before World War II. More than 3.4 million Americans cast at least one Libertarian vote on Election Day. The LP also makes history when its U.S. House candidates receive over 1 million votes for the second time – a feat achieved previously only by the Democrats and Republicans.
2003 - In the “off-year” election, 46 Libertarians are elected to local office. In Michigan, three incumbent LP candidates are re-elected in a “clean sweep” of city council races: Mark Owen in Owosso; Andy LeCureaux in Hazel Park; and Bill Bradley in South Haven. As the year ends, the party has nearly 600 officeholders (including appointed offices), which is more than all other third parties combined.
2004 - The Libertarian Party nominates Michael Badnarik for president at the national convention in Atlanta. In November, the presidential ticket gets 397,367 votes. American voters are able to vote for Badnarik in 48 states, which leads all other third parties. Libertarians running for U.S. House receive over 1,053,000 votes.
2005 - The LP offers the American people an Iraq Exit Strategy. The party passes a Zero Dues Plan to focus on electing Libertarians to office.
2006 - At the Portland national convention the LP votes to consolidate its platform, reducing the number of planks from 61 to 15 in order to reach out to new voters. The Libertarian Leadership School is launched. Libertarians running for U.S. House receive over 650,000 votes.
2007 - In the “off-year” election, 19 of 98 candidates are elected or re-elected to public office. Former congressman Bob Barr starts serving on the LNC.
2008 - The LP nominates former congressman Bob Barr for president at the national convention in Denver. The presidential ticket gets 523,686 votes in November. 50 Libertarians are elected or re-elected to public office. Two Libertarian candidates in Texas and Georgia each receive over one million votes. Libertarians running for U.S. House receive over 1,078,000 votes, breaking the congressional million-vote threshold for the fourth time.
2009 - Throughout the year, 48 Libertarians are elected or re-elected to public office. In Indianapolis, Councilmember Ed Coleman officially switches his affiliation to Libertarian. By the end of the year, there are 146 Libertarians holding elected offices.
2010 - Over 800 Libertarian candidates run for office in November. Libertarians running for U.S. House receive over 1,073,000 votes. Pamela Brown, running for California Lieutenant Governor against both a Republican and a Democrat, receives 574,640 votes. 38 Libertarians are elected or re-elected to public office, and by the end of the year there are 154 Libertarians holding elected office.
2011 - Throughout the year, 31 Libertarians are elected or re-elected to public office. By the end of the year, there are 151 Libertarians holding elected offices.
2012 - The LP nominates former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson at the national convention in Las Vegas. The LP presidential ticket gets a record 1,275,951 votes in November. Six other Libertarian candidates also break the million-vote threshold. During the year, 30 Libertarians are elected or re-elected to office, and by the end of the year, there are 139 Libertarians holding elected offices.
2013 - Throughout the year, 18 Libertarians are elected or re-elected to public office. Libertarian Robert Sarvis runs for governor in Virginia, getting a record 6.5% of the vote and receiving a high level of media coverage. By the end of the year, there are 149 Libertarians holding elected offices.
List of third party performances in United States elections
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In the United States, it is rare for a third party (or independent) candidate to perform well in a U.S. election, and rare for one to actually win the election. Below are any elections where a candidate that wasn't a Republican or Democrat obtained at least 5.0% of the vote.
Since 1990, candidates in 32 (8%) of the 380 Senate elections have met this criterion, and two (0.5%) have won, both in 2006. In six of the 32 races, one or the other of the major parties failed to nominate any candidate, allowing third-party candidates to perform better than usual.
In the 302 gubernatorial elections since 1990 the criterion has been met 49 times (16%) and six candidates have won (2%). Until Lincoln Chafee's victory in 2010, no third-party or independent governor had been elected since the 1990s. In the 38 presidential elections since 1856, the criterion has been met in eleven (29%) elections, with no third-party or independent candidate being elected president.
StatisticsElections since 1990
State# of Gubernatorial# of SenatorialTotal#
Recent gubernatorialListed below is any election since 1990. Elections in which a third party candidate won are marked with bold typeface.
1856*Main article: United States presidential election, 1856
In 1856 the two-party system of Democrats and Whigs collapsed. The Whigs, who had been one-half of the two-party system since 1832 and had won the presidency in 1840 and 1848, disintegrated. Southern Whigs and a minority of northern Whigs coalesced around the anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic American Party, better known as the "Know Nothing" movement. Their candidate was former President Millard Fillmore, who won 22% but carried only one state, Maryland, thus winning 8 electoral votes. Many Northern Whigs, such asAbraham Lincoln, joined the newly formed Republican Party. The Republicans ran John C. Frémont, who finished second with 33.1% and 114 electoral votes. Democrat James Buchanan won the election.
1860*Main article: United States presidential election, 1860
John C. Breckinridge, the third party candidate of southern Democrats, got 18.2% of the popular vote and won 72 electoral votes from several south states. John Bell of the Constitutional Union Party finished with 12.6% of the popular vote, but only won 39 electoral votes from three states. Though both Bell and Breckenridge were unable to capture as many popular votes as the two main presidential candidates (Republican Abraham Lincoln and Democrat Stephen A. Douglas), this election would mark the first time any third party received more electoral votes than one of the major candidates in a US presidential election. Douglas finished with 29.5% of the popular vote, but only won 12 electoral votes from two states.
1892*Main article: United States presidential election, 1892
James B. Weaver, the Greenback Labor nominee in 1880, ran as presidential candidate for the Populist Party. The Populist Party won 22 electoral votes and 8.51 percent of the popular vote . Weaver became the first third-party candidate to win a state since John Bell in the transitional election of 1860. The Democratic Party eventually adopted many Populist Party positions after this election, notably the Populist call for the free coinage of silver, making this contest a prominent example of a delayed vote for change.
1912*Main article: United States presidential election, 1912
Republican Theodore Roosevelt ran as the "Bull Moose Party" (Progressive Party) nominee in the 1912 election. Roosevelt won 27.4% of the popular vote and carried six states totaling 88 electoral votes. Overall, Roosevelt's effort was the most successful third-party candidacy in American history. It was also the only third-party effort to finish higher than third in the popular votes and only the second to do so in electoral votes. Instead incumbent Republican President William Howard Taft finished third, taking only 23% of the popular vote and 8 electoral votes. The split in the Republican vote gave Democrat Woodrow Wilson victory with 42% of the popular vote, but 435 electoral votes.
Eugene V. Debs, running in his fourth consecutive Presidential election as the Socialist Party candidate, won 6% of the vote, an all-time high for the Socialists. The elections of 1860 and 1912 are the only two times that four candidates each cleared 5% of the popular vote in a Presidential election.
1924*Main article: United States presidential election, 1924
Erstwhile Republican Robert M. La Follette ran as a Progressive. After the Democrats nominated conservative John W. Davis, many liberal Democrats turned to La Follette. He received 4,831,706 votes for 16.6% of the popular vote and won his home state of Wisconsinreceiving 13 electoral votes. With the Democrats split, incumbent President Calvin Coolidge won election by a wide margin.
1948*Main article: United States presidential election, 1948
Democrat Strom Thurmond ran on the segregationist States' Rights ("Dixiecrat") ticket. Former Vice President Henry A. Wallace ran on the liberal left as the candidate of a new Progressive Party. Thus the Democratic vote was split three ways, between Thurmond on the right, Wallace on the left, and incumbent President Harry S. Truman in the center. Thurmond received 1,175,930 votes (2.4%) and 39 votes in the electoral college from Southern states. Wallace earned 1,157,328 votes for an identical 2.4% of the popular vote, but no votes in the Electoral College due to his support being mostly concentrated in the more populous states of New York and California.
1968*Main article: United States presidential election, 1968
Former Democratic Governor of Alabama George Wallace ran on the American Independent Party line. Wallace received 9,901,118 votes for 13.5% of the popular vote, receiving 45 electoral votes in the South and many votes in the North. Wallace remains the only third party candidate since 1948 to win a state.
1980Main article: United States presidential election, 1980
Congressman John B. Anderson received 5,719,850 votes, for 6.6% of the vote, as an independent candidate for President. Libertarian Party candidate Ed Clark won 921,128 votes, or 1.1% of the total. No other Libertarian candidate has ever gotten more than 0.5% in a presidential election until Gary Johnson won 1% in 2012.
1992Main article: United States presidential election, 1992
Ross Perot, an independent, won 18.9% of the popular vote (but no electoral votes). His was the best popular vote showing ever for an independent candidate who stood alone on no third party ticket. Not until four years later would Perot seek to run for the first time on a third party ticket. As an independent, however, Perot finished second in two states: in Utah ahead of election winner Bill Clinton, and in Maine ahead of incumbent President George H. W. Bush.
1996Main article: United States presidential election, 1996
Ross Perot ran for president again, this time as the candidate of the newly formed Reform Party. He won 8% of the popular vote.
List of political parties in the United States
Ballot Access Requirements for Candidates
Information by StateAlabama • Alaska
• Arizona • Arkansas
•California • Colorado • Connecticut
• Idaho • Illinois
•Indiana • Iowa
• Kansas • Kentucky
•Maine • Maryland
• Massachusetts • Michigan
•Minnesota • Mississippi
• Missouri • Montana
•Nebraska • Nevada
• New Hampshire • New Jersey
• New Mexico • New York
• North Carolina • North Dakota
• Ohio • Oklahoma •Oregon
• Rhode Island
• South Carolina • South Dakota
• Tennessee • Texas
• Vermont • Virginia
• Washington •Washington, D.C.
• West Virginia • Wisconsin
Information about Ballot Access and VotingElection Dates • State election agencies • Ballot access • Poll Opening and Closing Times •
Absentee voting • Early voting •
Open Primary •
Closed Primary • Blanket Primary •
U.S. House requirements for Independents in 2014Contents [hide]
This is a current list of established political parties in the United States. The list is comprised only of political parties that are officially recognized by their respective states. As of May 2014, there are 33 distinct officially recognized political parties in the United States.Political parties by stateAs of May 2014, there are 33 distinct officially recognized political parties in the 50 states and Washington, D.C. Counting the total number of instances of a recognized party, there are 220 total parties in the 50 states (and Washington D.C.). For example, the Democratic and Republican parties are recognized in all 50 states plus D.C., which accounts for 102 of the 220 total parties. This figure is based upon the number of officially recognized political parties and does not include situations where a candidate chooses a party designation or party label to appear next to their name on the ballot. For example, candidates have appeared in Washington under the designation "Happiness Party." That does not signify an actual political party -- rather, it is the label chosen by a candidate to appear next to his or her name on the ballot.
Three minor parties are recognized in more than 10 states:
Florida officially recognizes 15 political parties, more than any other state.
[hide]Total State Affiliates for each Political Party
Alaskan Independence Party1America's Party1American First Party1Americans Elect7American Party of South Carolina1Connecticut Independent Party1Conservative Party1Constitution Party14Delaware Independent Party1Democratic Party51Ecology Party1Green Party20Hawaii Independent Party1Independence Party3Independence Party of Minnesota1Independent American Party4Justice Party2Labor Party Party1Libertarian Party35Liberty Union Party1Moderate Party1Mountain Party1Natural Law Party2Oregon Independent Party1Oregon Progressive Party1Peace and Freedom Party2Reform Party3Republican Party51Socialism and Liberation Party1Socialist Party2Tea Party1United Citizens Party1Vermont Progressive Party1Working Families Party5TOTAL PARTIES220The number of recognized political parties fluctuates regularly, as parties are certified and/or lose official party status. For example, Arkansas requires minor parties to win at least 3 percent of the vote in the most recent gubernatorial or presidential election in order to maintain their recognized status. Those parties have not achieved those requirements in the past several elections, thereby needing to reapply for official certification in the year after the even year election.
Many states distinguish between "major" parties and "minor" parties. The differences between the two can be found in how they put a candidate on the ballot. In all states major parties are granted access to primary elections, allowing them to determine which of their candidates will continue to the general election. Many states, however, do not allow minor parties to participate in primary elections, meaning their candidates can only run in the general election. Many states also allow major parties to select candidates by convention, requiring only a certificate of nomination to register the candidate. In contrast, minor parties are often required to submit petitions to register their candidates, proving to the state that they have a certain percentage of support from the total registered voters before their candidate is placed on the ballot.
The process to be recognized as a political party varies by state. Some states require petitions to be submitted with a certain percentage of registered voter signatures. Others require a certain number of voters to register with the party on their voter registration card before a group is considered a political party. Other states require a candidate to run as a member of a political group before it is recognized as a full party, requiring that candidate to earn a certain percentage of the votes cast in that election for the identified group to be considered a party. For information on a specific state's process, check out that state's ballot access requirements page.
The table below details the officially recognized political parties in each state and links to the party websites.
[show]Officially recognized political parties by stateHistorical researchApril 2014As of April 2014, there were 33 distinct officially recognized political parties in the 50 states and Washington, D.C.
[show]Total State Affiliates for each Political Party as of April 2014[show]Officially recognized political parties by state as of April 2014December 2013As of December 2013, there were 27 distinct officially recognized political parties in the 50 states and Washington D.C.
[show]Total State Affiliates for each Political Party as of December 2013[show]Officially recognized political parties by state as of December 2013Party status2010State senateSee also: State senate elections, 2010 and Political parties with candidates in state senate elections in 2010There were 2,765 state senate candidates who ran in the state senate elections in 2010.
State house elections and Political parties with candidates in state house elections in 2010There were 11,099 total candidates who ran in the state house elections in 2010.
federal government shutdown, 60 percent of Americans felt "the Democratic and Republican parties do such a poor job of representing the American people that a third major party is needed." Voter preference for a third major party has increased 20 percent in the past 10 years, from a low of 40 percent in 2003 (the first year Gallup conducted this poll).
[hide]Perceived Need for a Third PartyPollDo adequate jobThird party neededNo opinion
October 3-6, 201326%60%14%
September 6-9, 201245%46%9%
September 8-11, 201138%55%8%
April 20-23, 201140%52%8%
August 27-30, 201035%58%7%
September 8-11, 200847%47%6%
July 6-8, 200733%58%10%
September 7-10, 200645%48%7%
October 10-12, 200356%40%4%
AVERAGES40.4%52.1%7.7%Note: Exact question asked in the survey: "In your view, do the Republican and Democratic parties do an adequate job of representing the American people, or do they do such a poor job that a third major party is needed?"Political parties in Washington stateThe State of Washington allows candidates in their top-two primary contests to choose any party label they wish. According to the Washington Secretary of State, "Each candidate for partisan office may state a political party that he or she prefers. A candidate's preference does not imply that the candidate is nominated or endorsed by the party, or that the party approves of or associates with that candidate." The ballot label system in use in the state creates a situation where a candidate can list a party preference that is similar, but not actually equal, to a real political party, as well as allowing candidates to express party preferences that correlate to parties that do not exist.
According to the Seattle Weekly, "Many other states have erected hurdles to exclude minor parties, including signature requirements and other thresholds. Washington State, on the other hand, is pretty much wide-open about letting candidates and parties on the ballot. It's a new and unique system that seeks to provide voters with information. It's basically a nonpartisan voting system that allows candidates to send a message to voters in sixteen characters or less."
Jordan Schrader of the Tacoma News Tribune wrote:
"So among candidates who filed today to run, we've already got a "Prefers Neither Party" (that would be Jon T. Haugen, running for the state House seat left vacant by Jaime Herrera's decision to run for Congress) and a "Prefers Lower Taxes Party" (a group with exactly one member, Tim Sutinen, challenging Rep. Brian Blake).Lots of candidates will be listed as "Prefers Democratic Party," but at least two, Sen. Paul Shinn and Louise Chadez, prefer the "Democrat Party," which strictly speaking, doesn't exist any more than the Lower Taxes Party. You usually only hear "Democrat Party" from Republicans using it as a pejorative term."These parties listed as party label preferences in the state in 2010 do not appear to correlate to political parties that exist beyond ballot labels:
: Bull Moose Party
: Happiness Party
: Lower Taxes Party
: Senior Side Party
Party dots : 2010 Peace Party
: Alaskan Independence Party
: American Independent (CA)
: Conservative Party
: Constitution Party
: Democratic Party
: Green Party
: Independence Party of America *
: Independent (No party affiliation)
: Independent American (Nevada)
: Justice for Vermonters Party
: Libertarian Party
: Liberty Union Party
: Moderate Party
: Mountain Party
: Peace and Freedom Party
: Progressive Democratic Party
: Progressive Party (Vermont)
: Vermont-Independence Party
: Reform Party
: Republican Party
: Tea Party
: Working Families Party