Gary Johnson

Johnson/Weld Campaign Manager Ron Nielson Talks Campaign Strategy, Activist Complaints

Campaign aiming for 15 percent in national polls while also targeting specific states; ready to begin rallying; and asking patience from would-be volunteers.


"The immediate goal is still to get 15 percent [in the polls] and then beyond," says Ron Nielson, campaign manager for the Gary Johnson/William Weld Libertarian Party presidential campaign, in a telephone interview yesterday (before the CNN Town Hall) about current campaign strategy and tactics. (The 15 percent in five national polls is key to getting in the presidential debates, which Johnson has always said is key to success.)

The key to that is going to continue to be what it has been in the two months since the team won the L.P. nomination: earned media, in the campaigners' parlance, which means: getting on TV and in the papers and news sites.

Ron Nielson Facebook

However, the campaign is also beginning to roll out rallies as a tactic, started with one in Reno on Friday and then Salt Lake City on Saturday, with others planned soon in other targeted states. "The rallies will involve coalitions of groups, getting support from other organizations interested in helping," he says. "That is very important to us."

Nielson says they are getting in more polls, which he says is "a direct result of Gary showing well in the polls" he's already in. "Anyone who wants to have a scientific poll really needs to include Johnson and Weld," he says, noting their occasional 10 percents and above in polls they are included in.

The campaign will continue to use social networking as a prime communication strategy to supporters and likely supporters, though he says they are going to be rolling out a national radio buy as well. (Previous internet campaign videos, Nielson says, have all spread organically, not through paid placement.) The campaign now has 42 paid staff, Nielson says, around 35 fulltime volunteers "and probably hundreds if not thousands" of part-time volunteers.

Most of them are concentrated in running ground game out of state offices. In an interview earlier this week with Deseret News, Nielson listed the states where they think they can have the most impact as:

On the Democratic side, that means Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont, with Oregon, Minnesota and Iowa as more possibilities. On the Republican side, it's Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Alaska and both Dakotas.

While some have wondered how a "concentrate on certain winnable states" strategy matches with the immediate-term need for 15 percent in polls nationally, Nielson says they are pursuing both goals simultaneously.

I ran a couple of observations/theories I or people in my communications network had about how the candidates themselves seem to be strategizing based on their own words and actions: that they are either deliberately trying to appeal to disaffected Democrats far more than Republicans, and/or that they mostly want to just sell themselves as non-ideological decent experienced successful politicians without the overwhelming personal negatives of Clinton and Trump.

Nielson didn't agree with either idea, believing that his candidates are in different ways trying to "pull from Clinton supporters, and in other parts trying to pull from Trump, but the truth is there is a big section of independents, a lot of voters forming allegiances to neither Clinton nor Trump" who he thinks his guys can capture.

As to the second point, while he mentions "we had a little fun with the slogan 'Make America Sane Again,'" he thinks it's less about the flaws of their competitors as "pushing the message that these two governors were both successful, developed great leadership skills, were respected by the people who elected them and liked" and those qualities might "provide some security to voters."

On the fundraising tip, although William Weld said last night on CNN's Libertarian Town Hall that he was having million-dollar days working the phones for the campaign, Nielson only spoke proudly of a $360,000 haul over just the two days prior to our conversation. A "money comet" promotion they did last month pulled in around a quarter million.

I asked Nielson about a rather wide variety of complaints I'd heard directly from activists and which can be found all over Reddit about disappointment over a lack of a working store for merch on the website and lack of response to those who signed up on the site as volunteers, among other complaints.

"We launched a new store tonight," Nielson says, hoping any problems with ability to obtain campaign swag will fade moving forward.

"As far as people contacting the campaign to volunteer, that is wonderful and we thank them for doing it," Nielson says. "But I ask that they be patient. We weren't expecting quite the magnitude of support, it's been kind of overwhelming and we have been having a tough time responding to every person. But we don't want people to go away, and we hope they keep coming and we will find places and things for everyone to do." He says they and volunteers have been and will continue to organize phone banks to promote Johnson/Weld.

Nielson does anticipate as fundraising proceeds that there will be some "paid media, which will be different for the Libertarian Party, and we'll see how that affects the support base. When doing advertising, we will stand by our opinion that a majority of Americans support the same ideological orientation of Team Gov."

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  1. I thought “complaints from activists” meant such things as ignoring the Bill of Rights and the LP platform.

    1. He doesn’t want to talk about THOSE boring, inconvenient details.

      1. I’m making over $16k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is what I do,… Copy This Link inYour Browser…. http://www.Trends88.Com

    2. Not merely ignoring but contradicting!

  2. I wonder if this guy maybe fitted Johnson and Weld with shock collars and zaps them when they get distracted during the daily strategery briefing or if they start to agree on something.

  3. OT: Gross hypocrisy.

    How’d that furener get here?

    Holy mother of fucking hypocrisy. How do you get here from never questioning anyone’s immigration status, ever?

    1. The Left has as many Truther/Birther Types as the Right.

    2. I love the first line of the article.

      Newly published nude photographs of Melania Trump, the wife of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, have raised questions about the story of her immigration to the United States…

      Ok, so seeing her nude made you immediately think of her immigration status. All rightie then.

  4. The campaign will continue to use social networking as a prime communication strategy…

    Yes! Let’s get Johnson hitting his enemies with some Trump-style twitters out there on the Instagram everyone is Facebooking to each other these days.

    Gov. Gary Johnson
    Slippery Hillary and Crazy Trump are two sides of the same sleazy coin. Sad! Time to look for the edge, America. #SlipperyHillary #CrazyTrump #JohnsonInYourFace

  5. Maybe GayJay’s destiny is to be the John Anderson of 2016. Running unsuccessfully as an independent Republican and siphoning off votes from a disliked Democrat.

    1. I’ve said a few times that it could be deliberate. I mean, I hope for his sake that it is deliberate. Piss off Republicans so they waddle back to Trump, try to attract Democrats as a centrist progressive without the corruption and other baggage, and try to hit 15% in polls.

      1. If Trump wins a close election maybe he’ll have GayJay to thank..with an appointment as Ambassador to Libya!

        1. Except it has been demonstrated numerous times this election cycle that Gary is siphoning more votes from Hildebeast than Trump. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution just released their latest poll of Georgia (and, yes, I realize all polls are bullshit, but we need some kind of metric). Clinton is actually beating Trump by 4 points (yes, Georgia is turning blue) in head to head, but in a four-way race, Clinton is only leading by 3 points. Gary is pulling 11% in 4-way, with Jill a distant last with 2%.

  6. This is where it’s so frustrating that you need some big bucks fast to buy a campaign team that can compete with the Dems and the Repubs when you simply don’t have the grassroots network and the funding they have – but who the hell’s going to cough up the quid unless there’s a pro quo involved somewhere? How you gonna buy off all the civic and social and community-involved thought leaders by promising them nothing in return for their get-out-the-vote support? You gotta pay those people, and there’s a lot of them.

  7. “I ran a couple of observations/theories I or people in my communications network had about how the candidates themselves seem to be strategizing based on their own words and actions: that they are either deliberately trying to appeal to disaffected Democrats far more than Republicans…

    Or perhaps some Johnsons leave us limp …

  8. Independents would surely be their prime audience, and Rs and Ds would be somewhat secondary I imagine.

  9. However, the campaign is also beginning to roll out rallies as a tactic, started with one in Reno on Friday and then Salt Lake City on Saturday

    Lol. Zodspeed, Gary. Does this tool have any sense of optics at all? You might want to give them a few days at least to forget the fact that you just got done trashing 60% of the state’s population. “Hello Salt Lake City! And holy fuck are those Mormons a bunch of bigots, amirite?”

  10. Perhaps Libertarians will have the chance to fall flat on their faces after they get elected. Until then, they can watch from the peanut gallery as HRC or DJT fall flat on their faces after one of them (most likely the dumb bitch) gets elected. But its all a sideshow. We’re screwed.

  11. Gay Jay and the libertistas:

    We’re number three
    WE’Re Number Three

  12. Why don’t you just ask for Ran Paul supporters to help out setting up the volunteer base?

    Why not hiring the IT folks from the Cruz campaign?

    My sense is that the technology folks and speech writers from the Democratic side are superior, but I doubt they will work for Johnson/Weld

    1. Few Rand Paul supporters would support what Johnson/Weld are saying on the campaign trail.

      1. I was not aware of that. Please elaborate.

        1. I wasn’t a huge Rand fan, but I consider him far more libertarian than these two Republicrats.

  13. Again, please let Gary Johnson do a series of well-written, well-staged Major Policy Speeches. Make him look Presidential. Get him more coherent talking points and stump speech material instead of the confusing mess he is using now – “crony capitalism is alive and well” etc. Let surrogates, including Weld, handle more of the tv interviews. Present Johnson as a figurehead of a broader movement.

  14. From CNN: Compared to CNN’s first Libertarian Party Town Hall (6/22/16), last night’s event was way up by +74% (1.612m vs. 929k) in total viewers and increased +101% (642k vs. 320k) among adults 25-54.

    That might encourage other networks to increase their coverage too. Ratings sell candidates to networks

  15. (The 15 percent in five national polls is key to getting in the presidential debates, which Johnson has always said is key to success.)

    And when they get in the first debate, are they going to continue spewing the center-left shit they’ve been dishing so far, or are they actually going to be libertarian? If the former, I don’t see the point. If the latter, then either the public will react badly and they get kicked out of the rest of the debates; or the public reacts well, which means they should have been libertarian from the getgo.

    1. aftertouch,

      It will be a slow process to entice people to think Liberty.

      One thing that is worth pointing out is that the D and R candidates are the results of their parties. The party’s platforms gave them their candidates. Yes, we can argue that there were a lot of ‘leaning’ by high-ups in the parties, but ultimately, they won the vote counts.

      There are a lot of dissatisfactions, and people are searching for answers. It will take a lot of time and effort to explain why the R and D platforms give us terrible societal outcomes over time, hardly something you can do in an one-hour “town hall”.

  16. Total Hihn THREAD FUCK!

    Wow TGIF

  17. Hudson . although Henry `s article is flabbergasting, last thursday I bought a brand new Buick after having earned $7028 recently an would you believe ten-grand this past-munth . it’s actualy the most-comfortable job I have ever had . I began this 4 months ago and practically straight away started making a nice at least $83.

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