The concept of the term “spoiler” needs examination.

A recent poll had Gov. LePage and Rep. Mike Michaud, the Republican and Democratic candidates for governor, approximately tied. Independent Eliot Cutler was lagging behind at about half the poll numbers.

This assumes that the number of votes this represents is enough to make the independent a spoiler.

Even if the leading candidates are tied in the poll, this doesn’t necessarily reflect a tie in the number of votes. Don’t forget the margin of error in the polling.

Another assumption is that those who vote for the independent would have voted only for the Democrat.

It’s just as plausible that some may have voted for either the Democrat or the Republican. Nothing gets spoiled in this circumstance.

It’s not as if the independent is representing a segment of the population that hitherto had no representation.

In Maine, independent candidacy is not new. Remember 2010?

In 2010, the spoiler wasn’t Cutler, the independent candidate. The spoiler was both the other candidates being weak. It was principally the weakness of the Democrat, Libby Mitchell, that precipitated the “spoil,” which really occurred because voters stuck to party politics, not candidate capability.

Now look at some numbers.

In 2012, there were 309,239 registered Democratic voters and 267,744 registered Republican voters.

Assuming the same approximate numbers for 2014, if every Republican voted and only 86.6 percent of the Democrats voted, the Democrat would win by about 56 votes!

So, if about 13.4 percent of the Democrats voted for the independent, the Democrat would still win.

Are more or less than 13.4 percent of the Democrats pleased with their candidate?

What the 2010 gubernatorial race, this analysis and these numbers indicate is that the concept of spoiler is – well, spoiled.

A third-party candidate doesn’t spoil anything; it’s the strength of the other candidates that determines spoilage.

Mark Schwartz

South Portland