Badnarik Polling: Key to a Bush Defeat?


Libertarian Party candidate Michael Badnarik's campaign announces its intention to spend $20,000 on polling; skeptics wonder why a sure-to-lose campaign should bother. Thomas Knapp at Rational Review gives some reasons:

In a number of states, Bush…Kerry…are so closely matched that those states' electoral votes may turn on a few thousand, or even a few hundred, votes. That's what happened in Florida in 2000. In New Mexico that year, Bush lost the state by 300 votes or so—and Libertarian candidate Harry Browne polled more than 2,000. You do the math.

It is entirely possible that Michael Badnarik's popular vote totals will determine the outcome of this presidential election … and that's where the polling comes in.

Polling will allow the campaign to determine not only which states are statistically tied between Bush and Kerry, but which of those states are potentially good places for Badnarik to spend time, money and effort. Kerry and Bush are close in Ohio. Is Badnarik doing well enough to possibly "bridge the gap" and force the state in one direction or another? If so, he should be focusing some attention there. If not, then perhaps Arizona, Oregon or Missouri are better places for him to stump between now and November.

Likewise, polling will allow Badnarik to find out what issues he can best appeal to the voters on…The tool for getting that information is: polling.

The use of polling data to direct the campaign's efforts isn't a waste of money. It is a necessary prerequisite to spending the campaign's money wisely, so as to maximize the campaign's impact.

It still seems more likely to me that a Bush loss that the media could "blame" on Badnarik, based on the ridiculous premise that all his votes "really belonged" to Bush, will cripple the LP than propel it to greater plateaus. But it could very likely mean a more libertarian GOP down the line–which in our first-past-the-post system will probably be ultimately more helpful for libertarian ideas in electoral politics than the LP has managed to be so far.

NEXT: Meanwhile in Baqubah...

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  1. Jamie,

    thoreau makes his snide (anti-Bush) comments tongue-in-cheek so he can fall back on that. so, I was not talking about it.

    Bush may use several strategies to get his votes out, but to hear you say that “gay marriage” is the only issue for his supporters is surprising.

    It might be a big deal where you live, but I don’t see it as an issue (I am not saying what I see is more representative). War is the big issue – both for supporters and opposers.

    Any area where I don’t like Bush’s policies (big govt., big spending) Kerry is the same or worse. So, the differentiation remains pro-war and anti-war.

  2. I have to agree with Zorel. Given that Badnarik has made his anti-war views such a huge part of his campaign, I doubt very seriously he’ll drain much away from the GOP this time around. Perhaps a few of the small gov’t Republicans who are apalled at Bush’s spending spree, but for the most part they will be a lot more scared of a Kerry presidency in that regard. (It may well be true that gridlock with a GOP Congress would prevent that, but I’m talking about perceptions here). Besides, despite the small government sentiment, these voters are largely pro-war, so they wouldn’t be much more likely to vote for Badnarik as for Nader.

    On the other hand, anti-war liberals could conceivably vote for Badnarik as a protest vote against Kerry, since Kerry’s war views are not terribly different from Bush’s. But I don’t think very many will do so, because they have Ralph Nader and David Cobb to turn to. (Were neither in the race, Badnarik’s staunch anti-war position would have been political dynamite, but not if two higher-profile, far more distinctly leftists are in the race.) I suspect even if such voters didn’t have Nader or Cobb on their ballot, the widespread, rabbid anti-Bush sentiment will benefit Kerry. After all, it’s “anyone but Bush” – (even, presumably, someone who doesn’t have views that diverge much from Bush’s).

    All in all, I don’t see Badnarik making a huge impact this year. That said, I’m still voting for him, and urging that others do so as well. But I think the reality is, even as the Libertarians actually have a candidate who leans neither left nor right, his ability to make an impact is as weak as ever. Yes, it’s quite depressing to write that.

  3. zorel,

    I don’t see it as a big issue either, certainly not compared to the war(s). However, in a race that is as close as this one is likely to be, the political calculus dictates that the race becomes one of getting out every last supporting vote. Its an issue that provokes a visceral response in a certain section of the population, and thus affords a handy tool. I doubt it’s the only issue or even the most important issue, but it is one that can get people to the polls. For that reason, I agree with thoreau.

  4. Certainly, Badnarik is not likely to win over many hawks. But there’s still a strong traditional conservative element that believes in limited government, fiscal responsibility, states’ rights, and individual responsibility. They’re not happy with Bush, and Badnarik as a protest vote could be more attractive to them than just staying home.

  5. If this tax-evading nut whose running mate brags about his fake Ph.D. get even a mediocre showing in November, that will do far more to hurt the long-term credibility of the LP than it will to hurt Bush or the Republicans. It’s one thing for the LP to field articulate, semi-reasonable Libertarians (like me in the Ass. Dist. 77 race in 1992) to “steal” Republican votes and force the GOP to move in the libertarian direction. It’s quite another to run candidates who are completely off their rockers and have no business running for any elective office. If Badnarik gets nearly as many votes as Browne did in 1996 or 2000 (or, worse, if Baradnik does better), here’s the message it will send to the GOP: “Don’t even try to steal our votes. Just like the lefties who threw their votes away on Nader in 2000, we’re so far out in La-La Land that you can never get our vote anyway. Just write us off instead.”

    A vote for Harry Browne was a misguided effort to the Republicans’ attention. A vote for Michael Badnarik is simply a cry for help.

  6. Of course all the people who say they support libertarian ideas but that we shouldn’t vote for Badnarik because he’s a “nut” ignore something critical: future ballot access. In many states, a third party’s ability to be on the next election’s ballot is dependent on reaching certain vote totals in the current election. Driving down the Libertarian vote can seriously impair the ability of future Libertarian candidates to get on a ballot.

    As for those who wring their hands that if Bush loses it might cause a “backlash” against Libertarians, all I can say is WTF?! How do you think a third-party can *ever* win an office? Elections are zero-sum games: one candidate wins, all the other candidates lose. Logically, the only way a Libertarian candidate can win office in an opposed election is by beating the other guys. Do you think Libertarians should only run for vacant seats so as to avoid “offending” the major parties?

    And finally, for the idiots who keep saying, “Oh, maybe if we ask the Republicans really nicely they’ll back off on the Drug War or something,” all I can say is wake up and smell the shit. The Republican Party has been drifting deeper and deeper into statism for the last two decades. (Remember when Republicans would actually try to *abolish* the U.S. Dept. of Education?) If you vote for Bush, he’s not going to interpret that as a vote for smaller government, he’s going to interpret that as a vote to keep doing what’s been doing. Your vote for Bush is a bigger waste than a vote for any third-party candidate.

  7. It is quite possible that the Libertarians will move to a new plateau.


    The American system is what it is because it is what the American people want. If the Libertarians were not so indifferent to facts they might actually see this.

    I was a Lib once. An uber Lib even. Then I wized up.

  8. SR,

    You are right about all that and the two parties as constituted cannot last past the election. Unfortunately the Libs are in no position to pick up the pieces.

    The only people more politically inept than the Libs are the Technocrats.

  9. Constantine —

    Notwithstanding despising Clinton as a human being, I believe his presidency yielded much more “libertarian” results than Bush’s has. But I think that’s because Clinton had no agenda, no objectives (except satisfying his own personal appetites), and no interest in the job beyond making some money and having people fawn over him.

    Are you suggesting that a Kerry presidency would go in the same laissez faire direction as Clinton’s? What’s your case for why Kerry would be better for libs than a second term of Bush?

  10. Zorel,

    This is a Flags and Fags campaign until the Convention when every one understands he will have to “move” to the center.

    I don’t like it one bit but militarily Bush is the best War Time Commander we have ever had. So I’ll help him on the war and oppose him every where else.

  11. Knowing that there are “libertarians” for Bush makes me want (to quote Homer Simpson) to vomit in terror. How can you call yourself a libertarian and support Bush’s track record and agenda for the future? It’s a mindfuck.

  12. In New Mexico that year, Bush lost the state by 300 votes or so — and Libertarian candidate Harry Browne polled more than 2,000. You do the math.

    There is a common delusion among Libertarians that the Republican Party would actually achieve a net gain in votes by appealing to the tiny percentage of the voting public that actually votes Libertarian. As if the Republicans could magically appeal to those voters without losing other votes in the process.

    A vote for the LP sends a clear message to the GOP

    A vote for Badnarik doesn’t send any message besides “I like voting for fruitcakes” — which the Republicans already know about Libertarian voters — or possibly “I think Badnarik would be a better President than Bush or Kerry”, which is just crazy talk. Either way, it’s unlikely that a vote for Badnarik will get Republicans to move in a libertarian direction. Bush is in trouble because he’s lost too much of the center, not because the Libertarian voters abandoned him.

  13. Paul Z: Silly me, I thought a President that raised taxes too much (by his own admission), pushed the Brady Act and the “assault” weapon ban through Congress, attacked Republicans for not wanting to increase Medicare spending enough, and sued California to undo Prop 209 was a less libertarian result than the result we have now.

    Tom: perhaps you’d care to elaborate on (1) the effect of district gerrymandering on how much/little your vote for President has, and (2) your “libertarian” objection to the Republican Party’s reluctance to spend taxpayers’ dollars on stem cell research.

  14. Give me a President with loose morals who balances the budget (well closer than any recent Republican). Limited personal morality and limited government. I would be happy with that.

    We now have a “moral” President who is robbing us blind. And not even for wartime expenses.

    Where is the morality in that?

    Or – Where is Monica when we need her. Blow jobs and fiscal responsiblity. What a campaign platform.

  15. I will probably vote for Badnarik just to give the Libertarians a vote. In NY Kerry will win the vast majority…I’d say 58%-60%. Honestly, I really think the Libertarians will have more success not so much as a political party winning a major election ie: a congressional seat, but as a force that can have some sway within the Republican party. There are alot of people who are sick of the neo-cons and also weary of the Christian Coalition types.

  16. CK,

    You are quite correct. A “Real Libertarian”tm would never let the actual political situation influence his/her thinking. Real Libertarians would vote for a child molester or a Stalinist if he ran under the Lib banner. How else can you build a party? By actually appealing to the voters? Are you kidding?

    Let the purges begin.

    Down with the sheeple.

  17. militarily Bush is the best War Time Commander we have ever had

    Beg pardon? Maybe out of the choices available, Bush is the best commander. That’s a big maybe since none of us know how Kerry will be, though he’ll assuredly be a batter commander than “fruitcake.” But ever? Come on Simon. I frequently disagree with you, but usually you’re better than that. One of the reasosn why I’m too concerned about JFK being CiC is that I feel that Bush is one of the worse wartime presidents I can think of. He hasn’t exactly done a bang up job strategically in Iraq, we sent in too few troop initially IMO, and dropped the Osama ball in Afghanistan.

    Don’t mistake the success of our integrated, technologically advanced military with Bush’s military prowess. Sure it’s been prettier than ‘Nam, but we now have the tools and knowledge in the military to handle those situations better.

  18. Look, the specific comment about gays was partly tongue-in-cheek, but I stand by the general point: Even if Badnarik peels off a couple percent in FL or some other swing state by going for the libertarian-leaning voters in the GOP, Bush can neutralize that disadvantage by mobilizing elements of his base that would never vote LP, e.g. the social conservatives. Perhaps I went over the top with talk of Bible-beaters voting against gays; I didn’t realize that so many Christian conservative frequent this forum. But the general point of mobilizing other elements of the base to cancel out losses to the LP remains.

    As to the LP gaining sway as a spoiler, I agree that it will be hard to do if LP candidates tow TOO hard of a line or appear TOO loony. If the only way to appease LP voters is to alienate far more moderates then the LP has no chance. The LP will have to learn how to appeal to swing voters (i.e. moderates) by offering a platform that combines the following elements:

    1) Significant reforms of the current system (to make the LP distinctive and keep the faithful happy)
    2) Make sure that the reforms are nonetheless moderate (e.g. repeal selected gun laws, or legalize pot but back off on heroin for now, or whatever)
    3) Select reforms that appeal across the spectrum (the Institute for Justice is good at this, taking cases on behalf of minority-owned urban small businesses).
    4) Above all else, project a SANE image. No blue-skinned druids running on a platform of legalizing ferrets and blowing up the UN building. (I don’t know whether it’s a good or a bad thing that the aforementioned stereotype draws from several different candidates. It’s good that no single candidate is that crazy, but bad that we have so many loony candidates to choose from…)

  19. “Well, maybe. After all, the close Dem loss due to the Greens in 2000 has definitely dragged the Dems further toward the lunatic fringe, although oddly enough Green party issues seem to have completely vanished from this campaign.”

    Given that the Green candidate wasn’t so much a Green as a standard Lefty, this might not be all that odd.

  20. For anyone silly enough to think Kerry is more libertarian than Bush.

    Back when I was a libertarian I didn’t even know who Harry Browne was until I saw his name next to the libertarian lever.

    I think most people know that when you vote LP you aren’t voting for a candidate but an idea.

    If Badnarik is insane and two better know anti-war choices exist that only makes a vote for the LP all the clearer.

    There is no confusion. It ain’t about the war. It ain’t about Badnarik.

    If LP totals increase from the last time it would be a very clear rebuke to Bush and Republicans. After all these would be the votes of people who previously voted Republican.

    While a vote for Kerry sends the message that Bush didn’t go far enough with his entitlement bribery.

    Conservatives should vote LP. Libertarians should vote LP.

  21. Kraorh,

    There are two ways to win elections.

    1.Give the voters what they want
    2.Convince the voters to want what you want

    The Libs need to do #2 before they try #1. Unfortunately some very smart people are prone to some very deep stupidity when it comes to politics.

    Oh well. It is entertainment.

  22. The size of the Libertarian vote is indicative of the opinion of libertarian minded swing voters, and, because of that, the bigger Badnarik’s showing is in any given district, the more likely it is that policy makers from that district will take Libertarian concerns into consideration. If he gets enough votes to make a difference in some district, then he has a chance to play Ross Perot to that district’s future Newt Gingrich. As a minority party in a system with single member districts, this time around, I think that?s the best a Libertarian can hope for.

  23. Pro war libertarians have only one place to go.

    “Real Libertarians”tm have no choice.


    I see the purges have already begun. After the 9/11 purge this one ought to clear out all but the true believers. The party can only get stronger.

  24. thoreau,

    “Perhaps I went over the top with talk of Bible-beaters voting against gays; I didn’t realize that so many Christian conservative frequent this forum”

    So, if you had realized there might be Bible thumpers here, you would have refrained from your little ‘joke’? Why? If this is what you think, why should it matter who is listening?

    Everything else you said (in your post) after the above is not going to happen because the LP nuts don’t care about appearing *SANE* – they demand PURITY.

    In your own list of things, there is no mention of property rights, lowering taxes, limited govt., etc. These are the things that appeal to a lot of people. Since GOP is screwing up here, there is a good chance to take advantage. But the LP cadre will keep the party in the dump as long as all they appear to care about is doing dope/drugs. Deservedly so!

  25. The Dems and Reps always make the election seem close whether it is or not. This is intended to get third party voters to switch to the “lesser of two evils.”

    So I’ll dedicate a poem:

    Florida Oranges,
    New Mexuco Beets.
    All for Senator Bilbow,
    Stand up and eat.

  26. So, if you had realized there might be Bible thumpers here, you would have refrained from your little ‘joke’? Why? If this is what you think, why should it matter who is listening?

    First, I was simply surprised that my half-joke generated so much opposition. Second, yes, I probably would have phrased things differently. There’s much to be said for tailoring your argument to your audience. For instance, when arguing with some of my left-leaning friends I phrase things differently than when I’m arguing with a conservative poster on H&R, for obvious reasons.

    In your own list of things, there is no mention of property rights, lowering taxes, limited govt

    I just tossed out a couple of issues to make a point about compromise (“take this signature issue and suggest an intermediate step instead of demanding the whole kit and kaboodle at once”). I alluded to property rights when I mentioned the Institute for Justice standing up for minority-owned small businesses, since many of their cases touch on property rights and eliminating burdensome regulations.

    But since I failed to mention all of the “right” issues I shall say 5 Hail Murrays πŸ™‚

    Oops, sarcasm again. No doubt somebody will be angry!

  27. Xrlq —

    Your objections to Clinton’s presidency are well taken, and there are plenty of other specific bads to add to your list. But if you step back and look at the big picture (lower federal gov’t spending as a percentage of GDP, actual welfare reform [even granting help from the Rep congress], actual reduction in the size of the federal payroll), and even if you give a lot of credit to the economic cycle rather than to Clinton, the fact is that the 90’s looked better from a lib perspective than the 00’s are so far turning out to be.

  28. Granting “help” from the Republican Congress is putting things lightly. Far from championing real (or, for that matter, even fake) welfare reform, Clinton opposed it heavily, vetoing earlier versions, and finally capitulated to the Repubs. A President Bush, either of them, would have championed such reforms. Spending as a percentage of GDP went up some, but mostly as a result of economic cycles and increased defense spending.

  29. thoreau,

    When I pointed out that you didn’t mention the “right” issues, I was not bitching at you:-) Only showing that libs reflexively bring up drugs as the signature issue instead of MORE appealing (and more important) ones, thus turning off the non-believers. So, there is little hope.


    If there is one thing no one can defend Bush on, it is the SPENDING – don’t even bother trying πŸ™‚

  30. pdog:
    Even though you can’t spell “candidate”.. I couldn’t agree with you more. Well said!

  31. I am no longer a libertarian but that is my hope.

    A vote for Bush is a vote against liberalism and a vote for plutocracy.(A vote for Bush is bad for the conservative cause as well.)

    A vote for the LP sends a clear message to the GOP.

    Vote LP.

    (A better way would have been to run someone in the primaries against Bush.)

  32. M. Simon,

    I don’t think a Stalinist or child molester could get the LP nomination. If America continually chooses the “lesser of two evils” then we’ll continue down the track to bigger and more government. Besides, the political climate is NEVER in favor of libertarian ideals. Sionce that’s the case, I would assume then that you’re in favor of dissolving the LP and have everyone assimilate into the GOP, right?

  33. It would be better for the Badnarik campaign to use polling to discover both what libertarian issues can be used against Bush, and what libertarian issues can be used against Kerry. That way, either party can blame their defeat on being too much in favor of government intrusions and expansions. And the winning party is nonetheless warned about the next time.

    Also, it may be wiser to target voters in non-“battleground” states, where people are not as likely to feel their vote actually makes a difference in who wins. It is easier to convince people that who wins is beyond their control (true in non-“battleground” states) than it is to convince them that it does not matter who wins (the argument in “battleground” states).

    Perhaps it would be better still for Badnarik to work on converting a non-“battleground” into a “battleground”. The best things third parties ever do consist of doing a cannonball into the pool of synchronized swimmers.

  34. I wish this would have some meaningful outcome, but the Bush camp knows what they’re doing. If the LP can have an influence on the vote, all Bush will do is turn up the limited government rhetoric. He knows he doesn’t have to follow through on it, just convince enough libertarians to go ahead and vote for him.

  35. It is unfortunate in politics, but often, to have any effect at all, you must first establish the clear-and-present danger you represent to the vested interests and the powers-that be. This may result in vehement attacks against you, but at least people will then be paying attention.

    I have long said that the LP will languish in near-obscurity (and I have watched this scene for 25 years) unless and until it can win at least a few big races, or clearly deny major candidates victory in those same races. The LP won’t matter unless its participation can cost the major parties an important election. If this occurs because the Libertarians win, all the better. But being a spoiler will work, too.

    The LP can win in two ways:

    1. LP candidates win, geting to set and influence public policy directly.
    2. LP candidates deny victories to major party candidates, inspiring one or both of the parties to co-opt LP issues … and deliver on their promises in fear that LP candidates will run against and defeat those who renege in the future.

  36. Patriot-

    Bush doesn’t even need to win over libertarian voters as long as there aren’t many of us. All he needs to do is energize other elements of the conservative base. If 3% of the population is going for Badnarik in FL (hypothetically) he just needs to get a more Bible-beaters out to the polls to vote against gays.

  37. Badnarik’s campaign is more likely to hurt Kerry than it is to hurt Bush. I don’t think Badnarik can effectively court any voters away from Bush. A slight majority of the undecideds are leaning toward Kerry, and many of the ABB “libertarians” among them might consider voting for Kerry (which is why I used quotation marks on libertarian) might be led to vote for Badnarik instead.

  38. But it could very likely mean a more libertarian GOP down the line

    Well, maybe. After all, the close Dem loss due to the Greens in 2000 has definitely dragged the Dems further toward the lunatic fringe, although oddly enough Green party issues seem to have completely vanished from this campaign.

    I guess first you have to balance off that potential gain against the cost of a Kerry presidency. And don’t think for a minute that Kerry will be more libertarian than Bush – where there are any differences at all in their positons, Kerry is more statist than Bush.

  39. “…get a more Bible-beaters out to the polls to vote against gays.”

    Is that what it is all about, thoreau?

    (I thought you were some kind of sciences/ engineering kind of professional …)

  40. And don’t think for a minute that Kerry will be more libertarian than Bush – where there are any differences at all in their positons, Kerry is more statist than Bush.

    I think there’s a case to be made that libertarian goals are more likely to be met with a Kerry presidency than a Bush presidency.

  41. zorel,

    do think thoreau is wrong headed, or wrong? I think he is neither. To address the first; he is clearly making his point tongue-in-cheek. As to the second possibility? To a certain degree, Bush’s essential task of mobilizing his base amounts to precisely what thoreau described.

  42. I think this time the LP won’t cost Bush the election. Sure there are other issues (gay marriage for Andrew Sullivan, for example), but the big common cause for ABB crowd is the ‘war’. Anyone who is not anti-war, is deemed to be “right wing” by the anti-war folks.

    For most “pro-war” people, Badarnik and whatever else he represents is immaterial since LP is adamantly anti-war. ABB votes might be split among whoever is the alternative, but the other side has to either vote Bush or stay home.

    It would have been nice if Joe Lieberman were the Dem nominee.

  43. A third party is useless unless it can either replace one of the two major parties, or tug one of the two parties in its direction. If Badnarik is the best the LP can do, maybe dissolving it isn’t such a bad idea.

  44. I don’t think a Stalinist or child molester could get the LP nomination. If America continually chooses the “lesser of two evils” then we’ll continue down the track to bigger and more government.

    I see what the problem is. The problem is, you haven’t realized that you’re completely screwed.

    The simple truth of the matter is that, at the moment, the overwhelming majority of the population WANTS the government to keep growing. Some of them want this explicitly; others want it implicitly, because they consider the programs they want (military spending, social security, et al) to be more important than ideological considerations like “keeping government small”.

    THAT is why, at the moment, “the lesser of two evils” still causes the government to grow. But it is patently obviously that that needn’t be the case. If, for example, Badnarik ran against a person with strong libertarian ideals who *wasn’t* a tax-dodging, Congress-indoctrinating nutcase with an urge to blow up government buildings, that other candidate would be “the lesser of two evils”, but would still be libertarian.

    The question Libertarians face is: do I want the government to grow at a rate of X, or do I want it to grow at a rate of, say, 0.9X. Voting Libertarian is exactly the same as abstaining entirely; it amounts to throwing a temper tantrum, and saying “either growth is held to 0.0X”. It may be ideologically pure, but it’s politically stupid AND directly counter to our own self-interests.

    Your one and ONLY hope, as a libertarian, is for a large portion of the public to become convinced that a big government is a bad idea. The Libertarian Party’s main function is to cause the public to associate “advocates of smaller government” with “tax evaders, phony doctors, embezzlers, and other weirdos and freaks”. Simply put, the Libertarian Party is actively working against the best interests of libertarians; it is playing to the public’s perception of small-government advocates as zealots and nutcases.

  45. I think it’s pretty obvious that if Bush loses this election in part due to votes for the LP candidate, the GOP will have to acknowledge its more libertarian elements.

    It may be obvious to you, but it isn’t true.

    The percentage of people who vote Libertarian is (a) tiny and (b) composed of people who are, let’s face it, far outside the political mainstream. It is by no means obvious that Republicans could achieve a *net* gain in votes by appealing to those people. Look at atheists vs. fundamentalist Christians. The latter outnumber the former by around 10 to 1. Guess why neither party goes out of its way to appeal to atheists?

    Another thing — the Libertarian vote is less than one percent. The candidate’s personality, quirks, and personal history account for far more of the vote than that. If Bush loses by 1% of the vote, Republicans won’t say to each other “gosh, we should have appealed more to Libertarians”. They’ll say to each other — “gosh, if we nominated a guy who was exactly like Bush in every respect, but who didn’t sound like a half-wit every time he opened his mouth, we’d be sure to win”.

  46. I’ve hurt my eyes a number of times rolling them at various actions by the LP. I guess it all comes down to whether voting for a somewhat weird guy is worse than voting for one of two guys that will do nothing to prevent the diminishment of civil liberties or the growth of government. I think it’s pretty obvious that if Bush loses this election in part due to votes for the LP candidate, the GOP will have to acknowledge its more libertarian elements. I keep hearing suggestions that the GOP might retaliate against the LP in such a scenario. How? With nukes?

    I’m with Thoreau. The LP needs to be fixed and better defined. There’s some magic threshold of sanity and influence we have to get to before the LP can really start making a difference. We’ll know the LP is doing its job when the Ron Pauls of the world leave the GOP for the LP.

  47. Here’s a tactical question for the Libertarian ticket:

    If the goal is to have the greatest effect on the Electoral College, resources should be devoted to gaining ballot status in the battleground states, campaigning there, and even advertising there. Unfortunately, the Bucheney and Kedwards camps are spending beaucoup bucks in those states, such that it may be difficult for local car dealers and supermarket chains who want to get on the air after Labor Day, let alone an LP commercial.

    If the goal is to maximize the ticket’s popular vote, concentrating efforts on states squarely in the columns of one or the other wing of the Replocracy might yield a larger harvest. If the margin of victory in a state is not in doubt for one of the Big Two, voters who would otherwise worry about “wasting their vote” if the race were close could be persuaded to vote LP, Green, Constitution, etc. TV time might be available and less ruinous for the campaign budget in the locked-up states, too.

    I’d prefer it if Badnagna figured out which states were in the ballpark for qualifying for ballot status in `06 and/or `08 and allocated funds and time on that basis. This all assumes they are able to raise some non-trivial sum.


  48. Maybe the LP should throw everything at one big state (Florida comes to mind). They have to be sure to be on all of the states’ ballots, of course, but I don’t think it would hurt that much to focus all of the advertising, etc. on one state. After all, most people who vote LP are inclined that way already. It would be pretty interesting to see a two-digit performance by an LP presidential candidate. . . .

    I may write in Penn & Teller for this election. I usually oppose the strange interest LP folks sometimes have in finding celebrity candidates, but the Bad Boys of Magic are another story entirely πŸ™‚

  49. Well it didn’t take long for the Republicans to react to the developing threat from the Libertarian Party. The trial balloon of the day on the Drudge Report is a suggestion that Bush plans to introduce a campaign proposal to kill the IRS!

    Of course unlike the LP proposal, the Republican approach of shifting to a consumption tax without reducing government spending is a truly whacky idea!

    Politicians are far, far, far more paranoid than normal people. At this point 3% of the vote seems huge when the undecided voters are already down below 10%.

    Watch for Kerry to cherry pick the LP platform next…

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