Even though Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan isn’t particularly popular, she’s at least more popular than Republican challenger Thom Tillis. And that may be all it takes for her to win re-election.

The New York Times published an interesting analysis of the Hagan-Tillis race today—and mentioned a third-party candidate, although not by his name, Sean Haugh.

Hagan is leading the contest for several reasons: 1) She’s receiving a lot of money from the Democratic Party in order to hold on to her seat. And 2) Tillis has been weakened by his legislative battles, particularly those concerning education.

Tossing Haugh and the 24,876 registered Libertarians in North Carolina, that effort could peel away conservative votes from Tillis. I can’t foresee Haugh gleaning many Democratic votes, even among the disgruntled centrists and left-of-center voters; there’s too much at stake.

So if Tillis loses, Democrats should congratulate Hagan and put Haugh on their holiday card list.