Dale F. Ogden, the Libertarian Party candidate for governor of California, did something neither of the major party candidates could: He got more votes than his party has members.
With 106,444 votes and 1.5 percent of the total, Ogden got narrowly edged out in the Petites competition by American Independent Party candidate Chelene Nightingale. But to get to even that total, Ogden had to bring out every single registered Libertarian (or an equal number of proxies), plus another 15,333 voters. (Registered Libertarians make up 0.53 percent of Golden State voters.) Nightingale on the other hand drew only about a fourth of her party's registered voters (more evidence for the theory that most AIP voters are people who mistakenly thought they were registering as independents when they registered with the party).
The Republocrats conspicuously fail to bring out their own party members. Winner Jerry Brown got less than 51 percent of the registered-Democrat total. Loser Meg Whitman did better, bringing out 56 percent of registered Republicans. Unfortunately for Whitman, the number of registered Democrats in California is 7.6 million and growing, while the number of registered Republicans is 5.3 million and dropping like a stone. To get a sense of how suicidally hopeless the California Republican party is, for the GOP to take over the state it would effectively have to bring out 100 percent of its registered voters, plus win over all 3.5 million California voters who decline to state a party.
My erstwhile colleagues at the L.A. Times frequently lament the influence of John and Ken, rightwing radio talkers on local station KFI who have been described to me as "The most powerful people in California." So I was mildly hopeful that Ken and John's endorsement of the Libertarian might boost Ogden's performance.
It didn't. Ogden's performance was less than one-fifth-of-one-percent better than LP candidate Art Olivier's full-party-membership-plus-12,379-votes performance in the 2006 race, and his 11,600 total vote advantage over Olivier tracks, in percentage-growth terms, almost exactly with the growth of registered Libertarians from 2006 to 2010. At most, John and Ken brought 3,000 votes -- which is impressive by radio standards but a rounding error in a 7.3-million-ballot election. An endorsement is still the equivalent of peeing in a dark suit. You feel warm for a second and nobody else notices.
Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Dale Ogden: