In the last of Smart Politics’ series on the decline of third parties in Minnesota, today’s entry examines the health of right-of-center third parties in the Gopher State. Previous entries documented how left (Green) and center-left (Independence) parties are, in Minnesota, only shadows of themselves today compared to just 4 years ago. The same can be said for right-leaning parties, such as the limited-government advocating Libertarian Party and the social conservative Constitution Party.
In State Senate races, right-leaning third parties secured 4 spots on the ballot in 2000 (all Constitution Party candidates). By 2002 there were only 2 such candidates (1 Constitution, 1 Independent Christian Pro Life). In 2006 there were none.
A similar story unfolds in State House races: 4 candidates in 2000 (3 Constitution, 1 Libertarian), 1 in 2002 (Constitution), 1 in 2004 (Libertarian), and 0 in 2006.
The 2000 Election was a banner year for the Constitution and Libertarian parties in Minnesota US House races—fielding 6 and 4 candidates respectively (six of which garnered approximately 2 percent of the vote). Since 2000, however, the Libertarian Party hasn’t placed a candidate in a US House race, while the Constitution Party has fielded only 1 (MN-07 in 2006).
The percentage of voter support for Constitution and Libertarian presidential candidates has also dropped in Minnesota: by 15 and 27 percent respectively from 2000 to 2004.
Right-of-center third parties have also not fared well of late in races for statewide constitutional offices. In 2002 the Constitution Party fielded a candidate for governor (0.11 percent), but that is the lone entry for all such offices (Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Auditor) this decade.
In US Senate races, the Constitution Party has fielded a candidate in 2000, 2002, and 2006 (earning 0.37, 0.10, and 0.25 percent), while the Libertarian Party last ran a candidate in 2000 (0.27 percent).
Although Minnesota is generally regarded as a blue state, there was a period of time at the early part of this decade when right-leaning third parties were experiencing the same burst in support that the Green Party and Independence Party felt statewide. As of 2006, this momentum has all but evaporated for third parties on both sides of the political spectrum.