Recent public polls in the Governor’s race have continued to show Libertarian Party Adrian Wyllie polling above 5% and even as high as 10% in some surveys. History however shows us that with the notable exception of the 1992 and 1996 pre-election polls, third party candidates tend to flame out on Election Day. Why is this?
A theory I have long held is that voters love to tell pollsters that they are doing something different and that they appear to be independent in their thought process. Particularly in a race that has been as negative and poisonous as the Crist-Scott race, it may feel good for many individuals who are polled to say they are supporting the Libertarian candidate. We have seen this effect in previous high-profile races and then major disappointment election night for the third parties such as the Libertarians, Greens and Reform.
The reality is after years and years of studying elections I have never seen a candidate of Wylie’s profile end up anywhere near where he was polling. My best guess is that he only retains the support of about half the number of voters that he is polling at. That would put him somewhere between 3 and 4% and likely end Rick Scott’s already slim chances of reelection.
Of course we will know tonight if I am correct, but history has proven candidates like Wylie flame our Election Day and the major parties benefit. In this case, Charlie Crist, the one candidate in the race who has proven he cares about this state and who has attempted to extenuate a positive message for Floridians is the likely beneficiary. But of course, in this era of increased NPA registration, it is entirely possible a third party candidate does break through with a big number in Florida at some point. I just do not think it will be today.