Unless San Diego is a veritable “hot bed” of third party and independent candidate activism (something that I wasn’t aware of), I find it hard to understand how a full 35% of voters (6,914 out of 19,739 votes) in the Busby/Bilbray 50th Congressional District run-off election who did not vote in the primary (in the same election) would vote for Libertarian and Independent candidates.

This represents an increase in third party and independent vote of 1,143% in the Run-Off relative to these votes in the primary! From 605 (69 for Clark of the Peace and Freedom Party and 535 for King of the Libertarian Party) to 6,914. Clark was replaced by Griffith, an Independent candidate, in the Run-Off. This is more than an 11 fold increase. Where did this huge increase in “militant – I will vote third party or independent no matter what the consequences in terms of who actually gets elected” voters come from?

In contrast Busby, the Democratic candidate in the run-off received only 59% of these 19,739 voters who voted in the Run-Off but not in the primary.

The 6,914 third party and independent vote (5.35% of total votes cast) is more than the 6,128 (4.36% of total votes cast) vote margin by which Bilbray reported beat Busby in the Run-Off.

What's really strange about the huge increase in third party and independent votes in the Run-Off is that you'd expect this to go in the opposite direction in such a high profile contested election. Voting for a third party in the primary gives an opportunity to register a protest vote without being a "spoiler". Here its as though the newly appearing 6,914 third party voters in the Run-Off positively went out of their way to risk the defeat of Busby or Bilbray by voting in the Run-Off for an Independent or Libertarian, and not voting in the Primary where they could have registered their protest without the risk of contributing to the defeat of one of the major party candidates!

Especially after what happen in Florida in 2000 with the Green party vote, you'd think their would be a great deal of awareness about the possibly of being a "spoiler", and a corresponding effort to avoid contributing to such a possibility!

I thank Brad Freidman of "Bradblog" for asking me to review the San Diego data and Bradblog respondents Michael Daniels and “Calinpendence” for pointing me toward this comparison of the Primary and Run-Off San Diego election data.

Data source: San Diego Registrar of Voters website (as of from June 9, 2006 16:59:21 100% of precincts reporting):

Detailed Calculations (Microsoft Excel Format):