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Author Topic: Analysis of State Legislatures  (Read 41899 times)

robmayn

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Re:Analysis of VERMONT House of Representatives
« Reply #45 on: February 17, 2003, 03:26:31 pm »

It’s not nearly as hopeless as reports made it out to be.
Note the margins are what FSP voters could make up so Republicans or Independents could win. I realize Republicans are not libertarians, but they are not Liberals which cause FSP’ers shy away from Vermont. Yet, the total margins to defeat thirty  Democrats is only 6,000 votes (add up from bottom of the list). Only 700  FSP votes in the districts at the bottom of this list would give Republicans a majority in the House

Joe,

As a native Vermonter, who has been active in the fight to "Take Back Vermont", I wish to commend your analysis.
The 2002 election was a substantial step backwards, from the 2000 elections, for the forces of freedom in Vermont.  There are a couple of reasons why this is the case.  First, in 2000, the left (including a SUBSTANTIAL ammount of out of state money) targeted conservative/libertarian Gubernatorial candidate Ruth Dwyer.  This allowed a large number of "Take Back Vermont" activists to get elected as Reps.  In the 2002 elections, the left targeted the legislative races.  There was a MUCH smaller turnout in 2002 than there was in 2000.  The candidates on the left still got the same ammount of votes they did in 2000.  In sum, our people stayed home and their people turned out.
The analysis you did on what it would take to reverse this, was already done by some local groups here.  We have concluded that it is doable, adding an army of 20,000 activists to turn the tables would make it all the more so.  

As Jason metioned, there is a BIG problem with the Vermont GOP and its RINOS.  This is NOT the Texas GOP.  Still, there is a section of the Vermont GOP that greatly respects Neil Randall and there is a plan to flood the September caucuses with "Take Back Vermont" types, so that the RINOS do not continue to hold sway.  (Some of this was done in the 2001 caucuses, but the effort was not well co-ordinated)  

As a former LPer and current libertarian independent, I have not decided whether to accept the invitation to join in a GOP takeover.

Regards,
Robert Maynard
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JasonPSorens

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #46 on: February 17, 2003, 10:41:20 pm »

Maybe it wasn't Hume who suggested a balance of Monarchy, Aristocracy, and Democracy.
I've been reading from Aristotle and John Stuart Mill as well recently and I'm not sure which had the most recent reading of that idea. Aristotle originated the concept, but I'm sure one of the others re-published it.

Jason,
Your the political science doctoral student...
To whom is the above to be attributed to, or is it all three, or others too?

Aristotle was definitely the originator; I think perhaps Montesquieu was the modern exponent.  Definitely not Mill, and probably not Hume.
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exitus

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #47 on: March 10, 2003, 05:14:16 pm »

http://www.equalitystate.org/ESPC%20Website%20Generic%20Pages/reports/questionnaire/results.html
This is the results of surveys completed by legislators from the Equality State Policy Center that issued a 10- question survey in the state of Wyoming.

Here is some background :
http://www.equalitystate.org/ESPC%20Website%20Generic%20Pages/reports/questionnaire/intro.html
 
Any Wyoming fans (or WY haters) wish to tabulate relevant results of all these questions and tell us a little bit more about the politics in Wyoming?
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freedomroad

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #48 on: March 11, 2003, 01:52:58 am »

http://www.equalitystate.org/ESPC%20Website%20Generic%20Pages/reports/questionnaire/results.html
This is the results of surveys completed by legislators from the Equality State Policy Center that issued a 10- question survey in the state of Wyoming.

Here is some background :
http://www.equalitystate.org/ESPC%20Website%20Generic%20Pages/reports/questionnaire/intro.html
 
Any Wyoming fans (or WY haters) wish to tabulate relevant results of all these questions and tell us a little bit more about the politics in Wyoming?

Only questions 1,2, and 9a are useful questions.  The other 7 are a bunch of meaningless crap.  

Question 1 is about filing pre-election campaign finance reports.  Wyoming is the only state that does not make people do this.  This question is, do you want to change this, around 60% of the people said yes while the rest said not sure, no, or did not answer.  So, that is a loss for us but it really does very little to hurt us, only makes Wyoming like all other states.  Question 2 is something similar but the results are much more yes.  Again, this does not really hurt us.  

Question 9a is about putting the results of mineral tax audits not just in the hands of a few powerful people but in the hands of the legislature.  We should be for this and most people voted yes.  

Really, there was little substance in the questions and the few meaningful questions evened each other out in a wash.

This Equality State Policy Center is not a libertarian group.

There are, it seems, two Libertarian members of the House.  One of them voted good on the issues and the other asked this his votes not be posted on the internet and said contact him if you are from Wyoming and he will tell you.
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Zxcv

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #49 on: March 11, 2003, 11:35:27 am »

Quote
From my experience on a small city council (of only seven members)...  having at least a second person to second a motion and get it on the floor is vital and having a few other legislators to take up the argument and press the issue is also crucial. Thus we would need insiders to lobby the other insiders. Then we would need the another two senators to move and second a motion in the Senate to take up what our people in the House started. Thus Senate district sizes and ease of access to a few seats there is vital.

With a small legislature with large district sizes, getting even one person elected would be tough and getting several would be even harder.
It's even worse when you consider that most work in legislatures is done in committees. How hard is it to ensure we have two members in each of the important committees? And not only that; how our members come to office makes a big difference. Would elected LP members get any but the most trivial committee assignments?

I think we've got a long row to hoe, folks...

As to that survey, yes, this is a leftist think tank. We need to get our own think tank and get our own surveys published. Even the campaign finance stuff is questionable; such laws start out pretty innocent but often morph into tools to discourage participation in politics by anyone but the pros. I know; as a treasurer in several campaigns I've dealt with these laws enough.

As to term limits, I'd be a lot more impressed with term limit laws that have actually started throwing powerful legislators out of office. These laws often get dumped by courts or legislatures before they get a chance to operate. I'd be particularly suspicious of such laws in states where one party doesn't have to worry much about competition from another <sigh> because the legislature has little fear in overturning term limits. Thus, although they are useful laws for us, I don't hold them as being crucial.  >:(
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Zxcv

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #50 on: March 24, 2003, 12:22:55 am »

Joe, this thread in particular is pretty mind-boggling, and hard to get a real feel for what the numbers are showing us. As the individual closest to this work (i.e., who's done all of it  ;) ), can you rate the states as to several different measures of accessibility? I can think of perhaps 3 measures:

1) Rate all 10 states in ease of getting at least a single FSP-endorsed candidate elected.

2) Rate states in ease of getting a solid minority elected in at least one house, such that we have "significant" (whatever that means) effect on state policy.

3) Rate states in ease of getting a majority in at least one house.

Or, maybe you can think of better measures. I don't know how much effort you want to put into this, but if I even had a top of your head guess from you in these, it might help put the data in context. Make it easier to digest...
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exitus

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #51 on: March 24, 2003, 10:43:03 am »

. . .
What really is important, though, is if a state has long been dominated by one party, that party will be extremely difficult to dislodge -- especially if it is the Democrats; yet the Republicans will also be very hard to push aside from outside. They will have to be converted from inside.
I've always felt that 20,000 activists stood little chance of getting a third- party in statewide power in any state.  I think it is this conversion from the outside that is going to have to be our main play.

After all, the socialist party had very little influence early in the last century but they somehow got the Democrats to adopt every single plank from their platform (with the Republicans trailing not too far behind).  Eugene Debs, the Socialist ran for president five times with little success, but he paved the political path for FDR to do just about everything the Socialist party had ever wanted.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2003, 12:05:33 pm by exitus »
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JasonPSorens

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #52 on: March 24, 2003, 11:22:49 am »

Whether we can achieve a majority in a state legislature has to do with the intersection of state size (population) and political culture, so there will be widely divergent opinions on that.  What the legislative report does help us assess is the chances of getting a significant foothold in each house of the state legislature.  I have divided 2002 population by number of electoral districts (House & Senate) for all the candidate states to get a single figure for each state in terms of accessibility (no messing around with ranges).  Here are the rankings:

House

1. Vermont - 5,609
2. Wyoming - 8,317
3. Maine - 8,570
4. Montana - 9,090
5. North Dakota - 13,489
6. New Hampshire - 14,489
7. Alaska - 16,100
8. Delaware - 19,683
9. South Dakota - 21,743
10. Idaho - 38,314

Senate

1. North Dakota - 13,489
2. Wyoming - 16,634
3. Montana - 18,180
4. South Dakota - 21,743
5. Alaska - 32,200
6. Maine - 37,000
7. Idaho - 38,314
8. Delaware - 38,429
9. Vermont - 47,462
10. New Hampshire - 53,125
If we average the two rankings, then we can develop a final ranking as follows for access to the state legislature, purely in terms of district size (not taking into account term limits, fusion voting, and so on):

1. Wyoming (avg rank: 2.0)
2. North Dakota (3.0)
3. Montana (3.5)
4. Maine (4.5)
5. Vermont (5.0)
6. Alaska (6.0)
7. South Dakota (6.5)
8. New Hampshire, Delaware (8.0)
10. Idaho (8.5)

Since Wyoming has term limits as well as fusion voting, it seems that overall Wyoming sports the best access to the state legislature for third parties/independents/maverick factions.

Joe - is it all right if I post the above analysis in your state legislatures report?  It is otherwise complete and ready to be announced on the website.
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exitus

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #53 on: March 24, 2003, 12:26:48 pm »

This is Tim Raty's quote from the previous page,
Quote
However, simply that fact that a District has a large Ratio of People per Representation, does not constitue that it is at a disadvantage. Idaho only has 70 seats, in which case you will need to win 36 seats (or 12 Districts) to win control of the Legislature (in a two way race). This being the case, you only need 44,352 votes. New Hampshire, you need to win 201 Seats in a two party race, constituting 495,465 in the whole, using Idaho's scale, 165,155.

Please help me understand the math of this whole idea, and how Tim's comments came out as a negative.  If there are  70 representatives in Idaho for 1,293,653 people, there are still 18,481 people per representative, not 38,314.  If there were 35 two-seat districts where winner-takes-all, yes this would be the case, but this clearly is not the case as there are different parties represented across each district as this 2000 survey shows:
Idaho State Legislature General Election Survey Results

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JasonPSorens

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #54 on: March 24, 2003, 01:37:48 pm »

Yes, they are all 2-seat districts.  I imagine some voters split the ticket because they like the candidate from another party.
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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #55 on: March 24, 2003, 02:09:20 pm »

Each district does have double what one would expect by dividing the 2002 estimated population of 1,341,131 by 70 representatives. Thus it is not 19,159 per representative but 38,318 per representative. Each representative must campaign to the entire district of 38 thousand people and, if they’re elected, be responsive to all 38 thousand. From my viewpoint, it would be better all around if representative districts were smaller -- one seat per district.

This is like in this county where we have three county commissioner districts. Each commissioner must be from a specific district yet must campaign to the entire county. The ballot may show two races for two districts with two or three people running for each district. Our city council wards are set up with two councilmembers per ward and each runs “at large” in the ward. Usually the 4-year terms are staggered with one seat up every two years but if we have a resignation then we elect two in one year -- separate races for each seat even though each candidate has to campaign to the entire ward.

This is very similar to Idaho’s legislative districts where you have separate races for “Seat A” and a “Seat B” but all the candidates must campaign to the entire district. Each and every voter in the district gets to vote for both “Seat A” and a “Seat B”.

See this sample ballot for Distict 29 in Bannock county
http://www.co.bannock.id.us/gnballot.pdf

The statewide turnout was 44% of voting age population of 945,000 which itself is about 70% of the population. This yields about 11,800 for an ideal district of 38,318. In District 29 for instance, the State Rep A race had 6,565 for Anderson and 6,538 for Jensen; and the State Rep B race had 6,900 for Martinez and 6,184 for Tilton. That’s about 13,000 votes in each race. If each seat had its own district, then the vote for each rep would have been half that of the senate race.

Historical turnout as percent of registered and voting age population.
http://www.idsos.state.id.us/elect/voterreg/vtrrghst.htm

Election results at
http://www.idsos.state.id.us/ELECT/results/2002/general/tot_leg.htm
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George Reich

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #56 on: March 24, 2003, 03:05:09 pm »

I have divided 2002 population by number of electoral districts (House & Senate) for all the candidate states to get a single figure for each state in terms of accessibility (no messing around with ranges).  Here are the rankings:

House

1. Vermont - 5,609
2. Wyoming - 8,317
3. Maine - 8,570
4. Montana - 9,090
5. North Dakota - 13,489
6. New Hampshire - 14,489
7. Alaska - 16,100
8. Delaware - 19,683
9. South Dakota - 21,743
10. Idaho - 38,314

Averaging New Hampshire's district sizes does not give an accurate picture of the accessibility of its house. Many NH legislators were elected from small districts in 2002. About 100 representatives won office with fewer than 2000 votes each and some won with fewer than 1000 votes. Representative Donald Philbrick won office with 721 votes.

Porcupines could have easily won seats in some of the large districts as well. In these districts, the major parties were not always able to field enough candidates for all of the available spots. This happened in NH's largest district (District #67). In this district, Republicans who were strong on the "no income tax" issue beat all of their Democrat opponents with ease. But four seats in this district went to Democrats by default -  Republican candidates could not be found to run for them. Porcupines could have easily won all four of these seats by running as Republicans (or as Libertarian + Republican fusion candidates) and taking a strong stand against an income tax.

20,000 porcupines will undoubtedly send a good-sized caucus of libertarians to the NH house in short order. Once the 37% of NH voters who are registered as independents take notice of this, libertarian candidates for other offices will become serious contenders.

 ;)

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Zxcv

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #57 on: March 25, 2003, 11:24:35 am »

Quote
Whether we can achieve a majority in a state legislature has to do with the intersection of state size (population) and political culture, so there will be widely divergent opinions on that.  What the legislative report does help us assess is the chances of getting a significant foothold in each house of the state legislature.

I am still having trouble getting a handle on the significance you guys are placing on district sizes.

Yes, if the task is getting one seat in the House, then VT is better than ID. But if the task is getting 50% of the seats, or 20% to have influence, or any other given percentage, then the district size is irrelevant. The difference between VT and ID in that case would depend as you say strictly on the population difference and political culture. VT and ID access would not change relative to each other, even if they swapped district sizes.

So, unless someone will straighten me out here, I will have to consider district sizes to be one of the less relevant things we are considering, almost not worth worrying about at all. Of course, if you are thinking of using the LP as the vehicle for the FSP, and think in typical LP terms of success, then being able to get one seat may be more important to you.  ::)
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exitus

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #58 on: March 25, 2003, 02:20:30 pm »

After some more thought,  I tend to defer to Zxcv's argument a bit more on this point:  every other factor is secondary to the measure of culture and population.  The disposition of the population is the absolute most important thing that we could ever hope to measure in determining success.

In the end, success will only come about through having a majority of voters supporting the actions of those liberty-supporting politicians in power, whether it is 3,000 voters in each of 400 districts or 40,000 voters for each of 30 districts, it doesn't matter if the aim is to produce a culture shift towards liberty, working at the grass-roots level.
   
While I see the obvious advantage of having a huge house of reps, as in New Hampshire, to keep the power more "in the hands of the people"   I also see having to fight 425 battles with a band of thinly dispersed, mostly-amateur activists quite a chore too.

Even if we somehow got a whole libertarian legislature in place to shred the bad laws that stifle liberty, but got them in through some surprise strategy, the back- door, so to speak, they will merely become one-hit-wonders to the statist media and the history books, and quickly replaced the next term by statists who will gladly secure the bonds of tyrranny with thick cords so it will never happen again, and that is if they are lucky to have some support, impeachments and recall elections would be more likely, the kind of reforms we seek . . .
  If, on the other hand, we got in through the back door, so to speak, into the minds and hearts of the people first, while slowly gaining some legislative victories, freedom will be secured.  That is what happened around the time of Thomas Paine and his Common Sense, you couldn't have tried hard enough to extinguish the flames of revolution of where the citizenry was reading his book.  That's what I see as being the force for change.

Just in the past year, just through personal contacts, I have managed to get about three people who have changed their minds and acknowledged to me that they have re-thought their politics and have started agreeing with the libertarian concept of liberty, this is at least among those that I known of, I have seriously spoken about political concepts with perhaps twenty or thirty people in the past year through face-to-face contact,  and that is without running for office, or even participating in a single campaign.  I have mostly worked on the level of being neighborly and talking to people here at my apartment building every chance I get, at the dentist office, while waiting in line at the store and also by subtly slipping-in a few concepts of political liberty while teaching my non-political Sunday school lessons at church.  That is all in addition to anything I do online,  or expressing my views to the local newspaper, or through bumper-stickers, etc.   Now, if there were 1000 other people in this city of 500,000 doing the same thing every year as me, you would start to see a dramatic change in government within only a couple of years as people would start awakening to the cause and taking bigger steps to seek out liberty and act and vote that way.  It was through a few simple conversations with a libertarian friend that brought me around from being a statist- right wing authoritarian- conservative to the libertarian activist I am today.

I have an optimistic opinion of people in general, just not much  confidence that the liberty movement will find its source of strength in anything political, not that things political are not very important too, because they are, they are just secondary, just like Analysis of State Legislatures is indeed important, but secondary to analysis of where to find 'good soil' to plant our 'seeds of liberty' in the minds and hearts of the populace.

If you read this far in this message, I'm flattered.  I'll try to be more brief in the future, I'm just in a contemplative mood this morning (it's still morning here in California).  
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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #59 on: March 25, 2003, 03:26:41 pm »

Take it from one who has walked city wards and tried to get to what he could get to in a county of about seven thousand people for a county commissioner race. Trying to personally campaign to a district of several thousand is a daunting task. If I faced the prospect of campaigning to a state representative district of 20,000 or 30,000 or 40,000 like Idaho and Delaware have I'd have to quit my job and campaign full time -- and I still would not have enough time.

Our local state reps have done it full time in order to win and keep winning. I've had local activists refuse to run for school board or county seats because of the time it would take to cover even this small county of 7,000 to 8,000. As the districts get larger, politicians have to get more "professional" or "careerist" in order to devote the time necessary; OR they sell out to monied interests so they can afford the mass media expenditures.

Not only are many of New Hampshire's districts small in population, but they are also small in physical area. Regular people (who are not career politicians) win seats in the New Hampshire house because it is practical for them to get out and meet enough of their neighbors to win an election. In some cases an entire district can be canvassed on foot.
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