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Author Topic: Question for ID, ME, and NH Advocates  (Read 33094 times)

Robert H.

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Question for ID, ME, and NH Advocates
« on: March 03, 2003, 11:04:32 am »

I'm starting this thread to get at what I think is potentially the heart of the most significant question we face in light of our various spreadsheet criteria and research to this point.  We've hit all around it on various threads thus far, including Exitus's "Prove It!" thread, but I'd like to address the question directly at this point.

Bear with me for a minute while I establish some background...

Using 2000 Census Bureau numbers, 20,000 FSP activists in each of our candidate states would work out as follows in terms of a ratio of 1 activist per a certain number of state residents:

1 FSP Activist to ? State Residents

Wyoming - 1 to 24.5
Vermont - 1 to 30.4
Alaska -  to 31.3
North Dakota - 1 to 32.1
South Dakota - 1 to 37.7
Delaware - 1 to 39.2
Montana - 1 to 45.1
New Hampshire - 1 to 61.8
Maine - 1 to 63.8
Idaho - 1 to 64.7

But say that we don't get 20,000 participants.  With, say, only 15,000 participants, we get the following:

In Wyoming: 1 to 33
Vermont - 1 to 40.6
Alaska -  1 to 41.8
North Dakota - 1 to 42.8
South Dakota - 1 to 50.3
Delaware - 1 to 52.2
Montana - 1 to 60.1
In New Hampshire: 1 to 82.4
In Maine: 1 to 85
In Idaho:  1 to 86.3

Exitus suggests adjusting these numbers to represent FSPer's trying to win only 50% of state residents to their cause.  He computes this as follows:

Wyoming - 1 : 12
Vermont - 1 : 15
Alaska -  1 : 15
North Dakota - 1 : 16
South Dakota - 1 : 18
Delaware - 1 : 20
Montana - 1 : 23
New Hampshire - 1 : 31
Maine - 1 : 32
Idaho - 1 : 33

Just one other statistic:

Voting-age population in the top three most populous states according to the 2000 Census:

Idaho - 924,923
New Hampshire - 926,224
Maine - 973,685

See the following threads for further discussion and explanation:

http://forum.freestateproject.org/index.php?board=5;action=display;threadid=1390
http://forum.freestateproject.org/index.php?board=5;action=display;threadid=1407

What does the above information demonstrate?

When you compare the ratios of FSP activists to state residents, we see that the hurdle in states like ID, NH, and ME (with nearly one million voting-age inhabitants each) is more than twice what it is in most of the lower population states.  In other words, our activists will have to be more than twice as effective to reach out to the same percentage of residents in the higher population states than in the lower (just going by the numbers here for the sake of argument since we don't have surveys or anything more objective to go on at the moment).

My question is then as follows:

With perfectly viable, low population states like Wyoming, Vermont, and Alaska, where the FSP by itself would represent a significantly higher percentage of the general and voting-age populations, and where we would have to reach out and influence less than half the number of residents as in the higher population states, what advantages do ID, NH, and ME possess that are significant enough to override the inherent advantage of WY, VT, and AK (particularly Wyoming, which consistently leads the states in most of our measurements)?[/b]

This, it seems to me, is the question that we have reached at this stage of the game.  It seems that the burden of proof is now upon ID, NH, and ME to prove that they are not only good choices, but far and away better choices to the point where they completely trump the advantages of WY, VT, and AK.

Please do not misinterpret this as a smug question by any means.  Nor does it reflect some sort of bias against ID, NH, and ME.  This is a serious question.  All of the higher population states, particularly ID and NH, have various good points and advantages.  However, I see no reason to risk our success against so many unknowns in ID, NH, and ME when we have a candidate state as liberty-friendly as Wyoming where we would have a tremendous advantage coming right out of the gate by nothing more than our very presence.

And what are some of the unknowns that we are dealing with here?

  • Not knowing how many participants we will get.
  • Not knowing if the number of participants we do get will be as activist as we need them to be.
  • Not knowing how many residents would back our agenda in any of these states.


Well, those are my thoughts on the issue and the reasons for which I ask this question.

What are your thoughts?

craft_6

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Re:Question for ID, ME, and NH Advocates
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2003, 11:31:49 am »

I am an Alaska advocate, but there is one obvious advantage to the large states like New Hampshire and Idaho:  ease of migration.  

The larger the state is, the easier it will be for FSP members to find jobs similar to the ones they have now, at similar salaries, in a shorter period of time.  More FSP members could arrive in the chosen state sooner, and have more time and money to spend on libertarian campaigns.

The larger the state is, the easier it will be for the FSP to recruit members 5,001 to 20,000.  Many of them are watching and waiting, ready to consider the selected state.  They may want to help the cause of liberty, but are unwilling to do so if it has a substantial negative financial impact on their families.

The larger the state is, the easier it will be for non-FSP liberty enthusiasts to tag along.  Some will avoid signing up out of privacy concerns, while others will want to enjoy the benefits of liberty without committing to any level of activism beyond voting.  Others may find it politically advantageous to be able to truthfully deny FSP membership if they plan to seek elected office in the future.  

A larger state will of course be a greater challenge, but it is quite possible that the total number of liberty migrants will turn out to be proportional to the size of the state selected.  

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vermass

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Re:Question for ID, ME, and NH Advocates
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2003, 12:03:29 pm »

   Hey Robert it's Robert, I have to say this: You have an excellent point. I don't remember what your "pick" is but you certainly are being fair and unbiased with this comment.
    What you say is statistically true but there is a variable: The people's prior pollitical ideals. It is possible that it would be easier to "take back NH" than "take back VT" for example. Many have commented on VT's socialist party strength. Have New Englanders who desire to be free of the liberals who control their states and NYer's who desire to be free from the liberals control of their state been moving to NH for the past decade DUE TO the strong socialist movement in VT? I'm not saying I know the answer to this question but as a MA resident when I think ([thought] this project has changed previous perceptions) of a free state I thought of NH. How many NEers and NYers have thought the same and moved there? I wonder.
    Just how strong is the Libertarian party in our 10 states? It's hard to say what states have the highest amount of liberty-minded people. I don't think that libertarian party membership gives us an acurate assesment of this. If the NH libertarians are extremely good at organizing and they seem to be; than are their numbers high because of thier strong leadership? Maybe most Libertarians in NH have allready been mobilized? WY doesn't strike me as being a very pollitical state. You hear it's name very rarely when national pollitics are being disscused. Is WY ripe for the picking? Is the libertarian party in WY a Sleeping Giant? Are there 300,000 libertarians waiting to be organized in WY? This is a variable that is very hard to include in our assesment. Liberty-minded people are turned off by our present pollitical situation and may not vote "for any of the damn crooks" as my grandfather used to say, so even voting records may not be an adequate indicator of a states liberty-minded population.
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Re:Question for ID, ME, and NH Advocates
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2003, 03:13:00 pm »

Quote
The larger (in population) the state is, the easier it will be...
...for statists to immigrate and dilute our efforts.

The disadvantages of a large state do not end with the high number of voters we must reach.

Also, the two high population states ID and NH already have hot economies, so one of the most important advantages of freedom (healthy economies) will be completely lost if we choose these states. Not a good idea if you hope to sell freedom to other states.

Finally there is the 2-state project issue. If the 2-state project (which is clearly superior to any of these 3 individual states) is not on our plate, why should these 3 states be?

Too bad population is so important; otherwise I'd be moving to Idaho tomorrow.

Robert, I was thinking of a way to estimate the number of FSPers who will move to the various states. Look at the spreadsheet (preferably the big one, which is "flatter" than the standard one). Average out the normalized numbers for a few weighted variables that would affect FSP draw (jobs, livability, winter temperatures, etc.). Then flatten the difference between high and low states. Then normalize this thing to 20,000 and voila! FSP population.

Actually it's going to be harder than that, and a measure of fudging will be called for, but the end result probably will be better than the typical wild-ass guess we have been using.

I think I will take a shot at modifying the big spreadsheet to estimate the FSP population.
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Re:Question for ID, ME, and NH Advocates
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2003, 03:21:17 pm »

WY doesn't strike me as being a very pollitical state. You hear it's name very rarely when national pollitics are being disscused. Is WY ripe for the picking? Is the libertarian party in WY a Sleeping Giant? Are there 300,000 libertarians waiting to be organized in WY? This is a variable that is very hard to include in our assesment. Liberty-minded people are turned off by our present pollitical situation and may not vote "for any of the damn crooks" as my grandfather used to say, so even voting records may not be an adequate indicator of a states liberty-minded population.

I do know that the WY LP was recently granted permanent party status (meaning they no longer need to worry about ballot access).  I may be wrong on the terminology; sorry, I couldn't find the story I read on it.  If anyone out there has more info on this, please post it up here.  

I would say this bodes well for liberty in WY.

Jeremy
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Robert H.

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Re:Question for ID, ME, and NH Advocates
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2003, 05:38:39 am »

Craft_6,

What you say about members being able to move sooner because they would be more likely to find jobs right away in ID, NH, or ME may indeed be true.  On the flip side of this, however, due to their size, if the FSP chooses one of these large states it would have to hold out in limbo until we were fairly certain that we would get 20,000 members, else we would likely have to fall back to a more manageable state.

Thus, if a state like New Hampshire is picked this year, and we reach 20,000 (or are otherwise very close to doing so) by 2005, we would have to wait for approximately two years following the vote before we could start moving with any degree of confidence.  Whereas, if it was Wyoming (or one of the other lower population states), we could begin moving immediately.  This would allow some to begin preparing the way for others to follow, possibly opening up more in the way of opportunities for other job descriptions and even attracting investment.

I think the 2005 figure is pretty generous as well given the fact that the FSP will be two years old in another six months and we're still only around 2700 members (at this rate, how long will it take to get another 16,000 or so?).  As you state speculate though, others may get off the bleachers and join up once they know which state it's going to be, and this may cause additional growth that we're not seeing right now.  Then again, this is one of those unknowns.  But if we guess wrong, we've wasted quite a lot of time, and it's difficult to say whether we can keep up a sufficient level of interest and momentum in the meantime.

By the way, my first pick was also Alaska until some issues came up with it that made me think we could do better elsewhere.   ;)  I still wish that there was more interest in it though, and that it was more do-able.

Vermass,

The NH libertarians do seem rather well organized, which is a tribute to them, but I don't see that they are effective at mustering any more of the vote than any other state.  And something that also troubles me about NH is that the rising third party there seems to be the Green Party.  Some have pointed out that this may have to do with Nader's greater name recognition, and this may be true, but it doesn't bode well for the inclinations of the political climate there.  Nader is not a fad like Perot was; he's been around awhile and people pretty much know where he stands.  The fact that they seem more inclined to to cast a vote in his direction than in the LP's makes me curious.  On the other hand, the Greens have been unable to get on the ballot in Wyoming, whereas the LP has just achieved Major Party status there.  

If there is really any way to measure the leanings of a state's population (and thus our potential level of support), I would think it would have to be found in two areas:

1. Third party membership
2. The independent vote

One of Alaska's potential strengths is that it has over 200,000 voters who are registered as "unaffiliated" or "non-partisan" or some other form of independent.  It's the only state I know of that gives us a real idea of the numbers that we could appeal to in terms of the independent or "disaffected" vote.  As for third party activity, I know I've said this before, but it just keeps striking me that the LP is the rising third party in a state as free as Wyoming already is.  For such a state to display evidence of moving even further in our direction is remarkable, and combined with its low population (and other factors), it seems almost tailor-made.

And you're right about politics in Wyoming; the state is very much laid back when compared to others.  But a more static political environment may be favorable to inexperienced, underfunded people like us who are looking to start a momentum in our favor as opposed to combating an existing momentum or manuevering for position in a polarized environment.  The momentum in Idaho seems solidly GOP (with no term limits to shake things up), while the atmosphere in New Hampshire seems polarized (also with no term limits).

Zxcv,

Sounds good if you want to try to find a way to estimate potential participants by state.  Like you said though, I'm not certain if there's a way to do that without fudging too much.  

Give it a try though; it couldn't hurt to see what you come up with.  And you'd be better at it than I would.  Advanced statistics is not my strong-suit.   ;D

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Re:Question for ID, ME, and NH Advocates
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2003, 11:48:30 am »


What you say about members being able to move sooner because they would be more likely to find jobs right away in ID, NH, or ME may indeed be true.  On the flip side of this, however, due to their size, if the FSP chooses one of these large states it would have to hold out in limbo until we were fairly certain that we would get 20,000 members, else we would likely have to fall back to a more manageable state.


If the FSP changes states after selecting the Free State, the project will fail.

While members are under no obligation to move until 20,000 sign up, I suspect that many will move immediately, regardless of which state wins, as will many non-FSP members.

I think it is a mistake to have a firm deadline for reaching 20,000 members.  What if membership has reached 16,000?  or 19,000?  Who will decide what happens then?  I can understand not asking prospective members for an open-ended commitment, but it would be better to simply ask all existing members at that time if they want to renew their commitment (to move when membership reaches 20,000) for another 5 years, rather than shutting down the project.
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freedomroad

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Re:Question for ID, ME, and NH Advocates
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2003, 07:34:02 pm »


I do know that the WY LP was recently granted permanent party status (meaning they no longer need to worry about ballot access).  I may be wrong on the terminology; sorry, I couldn't find the story I read on it.  If anyone out there has more info on this, please post it up here.  

I would say this bodes well for liberty in WY.

Jeremy

Check out the 'Wyoming' thread for the info.
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Re:Question for ID, ME, and NH Advocates
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2003, 08:43:03 pm »

In defense of Maine, Nebraska and Maine are the only two states that allow their electoral vote to be split between multiple candidates. So, if we choose Maine and focus primarily on one congressional district, we can still send one electoral vote to a Libertarian Presidential candidate, giving tons of media exposure to the LP. While I realize the focus of the FSP is more to change state laws and make that state free before worrying about changing national politics, giving one electoral vote to a freedom oriented third party candidate would generate enough media exposure to increase that party's support everywhere, both in that state and in others. Maine is still a very viable option, even if some of the other, larger states are not.
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Robert H.

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Re:Question for ID, ME, and NH Advocates
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2003, 07:49:58 am »

Maine has some interesting features, including, as Joe Swyers has mentioned on the forum, some disaffected regions that could potentially form their own states, a prospect that I find worth investigating.  And on a personal note, I actually like Maine the most out of our New England candidate states.

However, Maine also has the highest number of voting-age residents of all of our candidate states: 973,685, and rather high turn-outs comparatively.  I also notice that the Green Party seems very strong in Maine, and managed to capture 9% of the vote during the governor's race in 2002 (46,900 votes).  That's a fairly strong showing for a third party, which could be good, but then it's the Greens of all things.  Then again, as you observe, Ross Perot beat George Bush there in 1992, which is interesting to say the least, although I was never a Perot supporter.  

Any thoughts as to what this says about the inclinations of the political culture in Maine and how difficult it may be for us to work our way into the system there?  For instance, Tennyson's Report on state political dispositions showed that Maine voters tended to side with "big government" candidates by 21% more in the 2000 general election (357,708 to 294,710).   Granted, this is the second lowest rate in New England (behind New Hampshire's 3%), but it is still considerable, especially when compared to states like Idaho and Wyoming, which sided with "small government" candidates by 141% and 151% respectively (per the same analysis).

If there are independents in Maine who might side with us, why does the state show such a preference toward Democrats and Greens?  Can these independents be moved far enough from the Left to align themselves with us, and what in our agenda could move them that far?  What I don't understand is why a voting population that is so tired of statism on both sides of the aisle has not backed the libertarians more strongly, but there may be factors there that I am not aware of here as well.

So, what I'm getting at here is basically this:  Is any guess that we make regarding what Maine voters might do sufficient to warrant rejecting Wyoming with its much smaller voting population and much higher disposition toward "small government" candidates, including the LP, which has just been remarkably successful there?

And, yes, the fact that Maine can divide its electoral vote is an interesting consideration as well.  The problem would come in with the question of whether we could muster enough of the vote to give our candidate one of those electoral votes.

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Re:Question for ID, ME, and NH Advocates
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2003, 10:28:16 am »

In defense of Maine, Nebraska and Maine are the only two states that allow their electoral vote to be split between multiple candidates. So, if we choose Maine and focus primarily on one congressional district, we can still send one electoral vote to a Libertarian Presidential candidate, giving tons of media exposure to the LP. While I realize the focus of the FSP is more to change state laws and make that state free before worrying about changing national politics, giving one electoral vote to a freedom oriented third party candidate would generate enough media exposure to increase that party's support everywhere, both in that state and in others. Maine is still a very viable option, even if some of the other, larger states are not.
I had an interesting conversation at the California LP convention with a leader in the San Diego LP and a CA state- senator, lobbying for the CA legislature to consider proportional voting.  We discussed the advantages of proportional voting as used in the San Francisco mayoral race and the presidential electoral vote in Maine and Nebraska.  We came to two conclusions:
1. Forms of proportional voting are superior to all-or-nothing systems.
2. Politicians in power resist introducing something which may challenge their standing in office, even if they recognize it as superior.

It has also been mentioned how New Hampshire has its presidential primaries first in the nation, and how that would be an advantage for us in getting nationwide exposure.  Then it has been pointed-out which states have powerful senators in Congress, namely South Dakota, Alaska, and Delaware.  

This all points to how we need to start thinking along the lines of what it will be like to actually be in power.  Obtaining power by putting "our kind of people" in office, with enough of the electorate supporting those kind of candidates will open all sorts of new avenues of positive possibilities, including some we have never condidered before. The only consideration, as far as I am concerned, is which state offers us the greatest chance at success. . .
once we get "our kind of people" in power, we can see:

--Our own state changing the date of presidential primaries, if it is expedient to do so, assuming we don't go to NH.
 --Our own state using proportional electoral- college voting.
  --Having our own people in Congress be powerful in their own right, knowing that they have a constituency that will support them as they vote for liberty and as they work to oppose the current lunacy in those hallowed halls.

     
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Re:Question for ID, ME, and NH Advocates
« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2003, 12:27:14 pm »

The 2000 presidential election may have been distorted in New England because of a personal dislike of the Bushes. Many contrary New Englanders may have voted for Gore out of spite against Bush. . .

Would it be better to measure the swing vote from 1996-2000?
U.S. Presidential Swing Vote by County, 1996-2000  The author of this site seems to think that Joe's assumptions may not have happened all that much . . .
"Bush "hot spots" of note on this map include . . . the northern Rocky Mountain states; . . . and surprisingly, much of northern New England. "


There is a wealth of info on historical election statistics located here: http://www.gwu.edu/gelman/guides/social/election.html
« Last Edit: March 07, 2003, 07:38:07 am by exitus »
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Re:Question for ID, ME, and NH Advocates
« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2003, 12:39:42 pm »

So, if we choose Maine and focus primarily on one congressional district, we can still send one electoral vote to a Libertarian Presidential candidate, giving tons of media exposure to the LP. While I realize the focus of the FSP is more to change state laws and make that state free before worrying about changing national politics, giving one electoral vote to a freedom oriented third party candidate would generate enough media exposure to increase that party's support everywhere, both in that state and in others. Maine is still a very viable option, even if some of the other, larger states are not.

Sorry to pick on you and your insightful post, AnonCastillo, but I wanted to point-out two additional problems with your arguments:
First, in terms of voting population, Maine IS the largest state among our candidates, if that is what you meant.
Second, gaining one proportional electoral vote in Maine for some freedom-oriented party, i.e., the LP actually does seem like a very realistic possibility, but why not focus on gaining three electoral votes in a smaller state?
http://fisher.lib.virginia.edu/elections/maps/1996ec.gif
 
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Re:Question for ID, ME, and NH Advocates
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2003, 10:27:28 pm »

Craft_6,

...if the FSP chooses one of these large states it would have to hold out in limbo until we were fairly certain that we would get 20,000 members, else we would likely have to fall back to a more manageable state.

Thus, if a state like New Hampshire is picked this year, and we reach 20,000 (or are otherwise very close to doing so) by 2005, we would have to wait for approximately two years following the vote before we could start moving with any degree of confidence.  

I agree with Craft - my understanding has been that if the goal of 20,000 isn't reached within 5 years, the project would essentially fold regardless of state selected. Meanwhile, people are supposed to move as they are able to do so WITHIN that five-year period.

Unless you plan to change the plan, this suggestion that people should wait to move until we know whether or not that number will be reached doesn't seem congruent.

As for it being an argument against states such as ID or NH - that's a stretch. You're arguing that if the FSP fails to attract 20,000 participants within 5 years, it would be better to fail in WY, VT or AK than in ID, ME or NH. This appears intended to counter the argument that ID and NH will be more likely to succeed in attracting 20,000 FSP immigrants.

The real argument is, therefore, two-part:

1) Which states will be most likely to succeed in attracting 20,000 participants (or more)?
2) In which states will it be easiest to have the desired impact?

Another way to put it might be: would it be better to 'fail' in WY or AK, or to 'succeed' in ID or NH?

You're arguing that while the answer to #1 may include NH and ID, these states are less likely to lead to success of the FSP - even if more successful in the initial goal of drawing sufficient numbers. That's tantamount to admitting the serious possibility that WY or AK will succeed in drawing adequate numbers, but falling back on the concept that 10,000 in WY will be more likely to succeed than will 20,000 in ID or NH. This contention is, obviously, very much open to debate!

Logically, this leads to the conclusion that population/voting population alone can't be the most important variable to consider. Variables such as underlying culture (of which there is extensive ongoing discussion) and speculation of which states will be most likely to lead to long-term successes, while less easily tabulated, become more vital.

Eric
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Re:Question for ID, ME, and NH Advocates
« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2003, 12:31:27 am »

From the FAQ:
Quote
The Participation Guidelines also state that once we reach 20,000 members, everyone has five years to move to the selected state. The Participation Guidelines do not specify a requisite time period between reaching 5,000 members and reaching 20,000 members. However, the assumption has always been that if 20,000 is not close at hand within five years of the launch of the Free State Project (officially September 1st, 2001), the Project will fold.
The moving is officially supposed to take place after 20,000 is reached.

Eric, you bring up a point I hadn't considered before (that is, if I understand your argument, which is not certain!)

Let me read it back to you. You are suggesting (for example) that if we pick Wyoming we might get something like 19,000 (or less) while if we pick ID we'd get, say, 21,000. Thus failing with the WY choice and therefore having to go to some ill-defined fallback strategy; or, on the other hand, succeeding in ID. I believe you are correct in bringing this up, it is a possibility, even fairly likely. Obviously since the "official" Free State Project only seeks to get 20,000 to a state, not worrying about what happens thereafter, then ID (or maybe NH) is the best choice by that criterion.

But of course, we have more in mind than just moving to a state. So it certainly is better to "fail" in Wyoming (still getting 19,000 there in a fallback scenario) than it is to "succeed" in ID (and getting 21,000 there).

On the timing, Robert is just noting that if Wyoming is chosen, then people can start moving there immediately with some confidence that enough would eventually show up (whether the "official" Project failed or not) to do some good; while there would be much less confidence that would be true of ID. It's hard to argue 10,000 will help much there.

The only problem I have with this is that the fallback is not defined. No problem if we pick Wyoming, as that is the obvious fallback. Chances are very good if the "official" project succeeds or fails, enough people will show up in Wyoming. But what if we pick South Dakota? Where are we then? What do we do then? Is the fallback then SD, or WY?

It's beginning to be clear we really need to define the fallback process if at all possible.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2003, 12:33:01 am by Zxcv »
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anything