As the Senate election tightens in Georgia between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D.) and Herschel Walker (R.), the race could come down to who loses the most votes to the Libertarian Party candidate—a former Democrat who supports ending cash bail, cutting police budgets, and open borders but is attracting a surprising number of Republican-leaning voters.
Recent polls have shown Libertarian candidate Chase Oliver receiving between 3.4 percent and 5 percent in the race, blocking either Walker or Warnock from winning a majority. Under Georgia law, if no candidate receives over 50 percent of the vote on Election Day, the top two competitors have to face off in a second head-to-head election.
The Moore Information Group's Erik Iverson, a pollster for Walker's campaign, said he believes Oliver is pulling enough Republican votes away from Walker to have an impact on the race. Iverson said Oliver has been effective at appealing to "soft Republican" voters, who might associate "libertarians" with conservative-leaning political figures, such as Republican senator Rand Paul (Ky.). But a review of Oliver's political positions and public comments found that the Libertarian has much more in common with Democrats than with Republicans.
Over the past two years, Oliver has said he supports "ending cash bail," "closing most overseas bases," and "open borders." He has argued that he's "more progressive on criminal justice" than Vice President Kamala Harris, described defense spending as "corporate welfare with explosions that kill innocent people," and said he wants "free and easy immigration." On another Twitter account, which Oliver appeared to use around the time he switched parties from Democratic to Libertarian in 2012, he said he backed "single-payer health care."
Oliver opposed the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade and said that if he were elected, he "would be drafting a bill to protect the bodily autonomy of women and codify abortion into law." He also objected to a law, backed by many conservatives in Georgia, that prohibited students from participating on sports teams that are different from their birth gender.
"A reminder that the Georgia GOP passed a trans sports ban in hours and killed the school choice bill," he wrote on Twitter in April. "School choice is in their platform. But banning trans girls from sports was their educational priority. Shame."
Oliver, who is gay, has been a vocal advocate for LGBTQ rights and described himself last month as the "first #LGBTQ statewide candidate in Georgia history!"
In another post, Oliver wrote that he distrusts both the military and the police. "I heavily distrust all authority structures, chief among them the military and police because of their nature as institutions," Oliver said. "They are the two we need to keep in check the most to secure individual liberty." After the wave of anti-police protests in 2020, he said he wanted to "demilitarize the police" and "end qualified immunity."
In a 2012 Facebook post, Oliver said he "always identified as a progressive Democrat" and voted for Barack Obama in 2008 but decided to vote for the Libertarian Party after he became disillusioned with Democrats for failing to end foreign wars. He said that he only made the decision because his vote in Georgia likely didn't matter and that he would have voted for Obama again if he lived in a competitive state.
"I live in Georgia, a state President Obama will not win on Election Day," Oliver reasoned. "I live in one of the reddest states in the country, and my vote will not change that. If I lived in Florida or Ohio, or a handful of other states, I would be voting Obama."
Polling consistently shows that Oliver is drawing at least 3 percent of the electorate, an especially significant share given Georgia's runoff rule. Iverson, Walker's pollster, says he believes Republican support for Oliver is "what's holding Herschel back right now on the ballot."
"It's soft Republicans; about 13 percent of them are voting Oliver," Iverson said. "They think Oliver is a libertarian. He's really not, he's a liberal."
The campaign's internal polling shows that neither Walker nor Warnock comes close to passing the 50-percent threshold in a three-way race with Oliver, with Walker receiving 45 percent and Warnock receiving 43 percent—within the survey's 3-point margin of error. Oliver is at 5 percent, according to the poll.
Those findings are in line with independent polls by InsiderAdvantage, Landmark Communications, and Trafalgar this month that show Oliver drawing between 3.4 percent and 4 percent in the race and neither Walker nor Warnock breaking 50 percent.
Despite his Twitter post supporting single-payer health care in 2013, Oliver told the Free Beacon that he no longer backs this policy and hasn’t for many years. He added that he thinks it leads to "shortages and actually higher prices."
Oliver said he doesn’t consider his views to be left-leaning, calling this a "false left-right paradigm." He said he also supports a "balanced budget" and gun rights.
"I think when it comes to a lot of issues, I actually am where the majority of Americans are," he said. "I think I really am middle-of-the-road when it comes to things like comprehensive immigration reform."
Oliver has said he is happy to play spoiler in the race and bragged that the runoff system hurt Republicans in 2020, when both Warnock and his Democratic colleague Jon Ossoff prevailed in runoff elections.
"Without a runoff, the GOP would have held 50 seats in the U.S. Senate after 2020," wrote Oliver on Twitter in June. "Better thank the Libertarian for forcing the runoff huh."
Oliver told Fox 5 earlier this month, "If I cause a runoff, I'm happy that that happens because it will show that voters are frustrated with the two parties."
"I've never been a Republican," Oliver wrote in a Twitter post in August. "Former Democrat actually who left when the wars never ended and Gitmo didn't close."
Oliver said his campaign has been working to push Warnock to take more progressive stances on police, immigration, and drug legalization.
"It surprises a lot of people when they realize I am pushing Warnock on issues like criminal justice, immigration, and the drug war," he wrote. "Yeah, the Libertarian is more classically liberal here than the Democrat."
Oliver told the Free Beacon he doesn’t know if he will vote in a potential runoff, and hasn’t decided if he would support Warnock or Walker. He said he didn’t vote in the previous runoff. When asked if he believes a runoff would benefit Democrats, Oliver said it would "benefit whichever candidate gets out there and campaigns the best."
"Sometimes, even if something is a historical path, that can be changed by the current election. We see that all the time," he said.