It’s clear that in the Libertarian senate primary, something went terribly, terribly wrong.
Robert Murphey and Dax Ewbank came to a sort of agreement: both would run for the Libertarian nomination to test the primary mechanism with Murphey making it quite clear (well, apparently not clear enough) that he did not want the nomination. Murphey through this whole process has always declared support for Ewbank.
But Murphey won by an astounding 20%.
There are, as of this writing, exactly 807 registered libertarians in the state of Oklahoma.
As of this writing, 2,607 people voted in this election.
Assuming that every libertarian voted in this race (which is not likely) 1,800 independents voted in this election.
Murphey won with a lead of 448 votes (as of this writing.) Normally this is not a large amount, but in a race like this we can consider it a landslide.
It is clear that the independent vote upset the race. Of course, we must not assume that every libertarian is as plugged in as they should be. It’s entirely possible that half of the libertarians had no idea that Murphey intended that libertarians support Ewbank and, recognizing the name of that long-time libertarian, simply voted for him.
It’s also clear that many independents, either not interested in joining the party or haven’t been able to yet, supported Ewbank. If every libertarian supported Ewbank (which as previously mentioned, isn’t a given) he still had 200 independent votes.
But, again assuming that every libertarian voted for Dax, it means that somewhere in the neighborhood of 1500 independents voted for Murphey – a candidate entirely unknown with no publicity, website, or social media presence at all. This is entirely unusual.
It is less unusual if it is certain that there was no ballot rotation. This voter cannot remember if Dax was first or second listed; if Murphey was indeed the first name on all ballots it is less curious. It is conceivable that 1500 naive independents waltzed into the precinct station, got a ballot, and voted for the first name they saw. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that there was some form of ballot rotation, as some have reported that Dax was first on the ballot.
Entirely unusual. Short of an outlandish conspiratorial explanation, there is no way to explain this mishap. Ewbank has never hesitated to call James Lankford on his endless hypocrisy; at one time to his face. It is also clear that Ewbank would be a stronger opposition candidate. But to say that nearly 500 (or more) independent voters were mobilized to prevent a Ewbank win is a stretch I am not yet entirely willing to make. This paragraph is included here after some hesitation as simple food for thought.
Now I wish to make it perfectly clear: it is not a particularly melancholy thing that Murphey won this primary. He too is a dedicated and well-respected libertarian who certainly deserves the nomination as much as his opponent did. However, it is true that there was a massive miscommunication or lack of any communication, and that was all the more unfortunate considering that the Libertarian party is still, despite the dedication of it’s members, still a vulnerable thing.
All in all, it is my contention that while it felt good to be able to vote in a libertarian primary (and that was a victory in itself, though more symbolic) it was an unnecessary, premature and naive attempt to test a mechanism that really didn’t need testing.