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Author Topic: Analysis of State Legislatures  (Read 41815 times)

George Reich

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #60 on: March 25, 2003, 08:02:38 pm »

Let's look at the numbers that Exitus uses as an example above.  That's three converts out of twenty or thirty whom he has seriously worked on in a year. I'm betting those twenty or thirty were the easiest converts out of two or three times that many potential voters.  If an activist as serious as Exitus can convert three per year out of a pool of sixty, he needs ten years to get a majority on Liberty's side. Okay, each year the conversions will become harder because the easiest ones were won over early. So maybe he needs a second activist to work on those that he, for various reasons, can't convince. Maybe a couple of activists working on sixty potential voters can, between their combined efforts and different tactics, win over a solid majority to Liberty in ten years. That's thirty potential voters per activist. Twenty thousand activists may thus win over a majority of six hundred thousand potential voters IF each activist is at least as good as Exitus. Will a Free State of a 1,000,000 people and 700,000 potential voters have 20,000 activists as good Exitus?

I wonder if 20,000 activists as good as Exitus are what is really needed. I think "convincing" people and simply getting out to meet them are two different things which are both important. Maybe small districts (in both numbers and geographically) and dedicated candidates are what we need. Here is an anecdote of what happened here in my NH house district. I live in the City of Dover in District  69. This district is geographically very small but due to its high population density has has about 9000 people and sends three representatives to Concord. No activists came knocking on my door, but one of the candidates did. She had no entourage with her and simply introduced herself as Phyllis Woods who was running for the New Hampshire house. I knew of her already and I chatted with her for a minute or two. None of the other 5 candidates for the three seats ever made it do my door. Interestingly, Phyllis not only won reelection but had the highest vote total in the district. I would have voted for her anyway (because I know of her voting record in the house), but I wonder how many other votes she won by simply making the effort to meet her constituents.

Phyllis won with 1516 votes and the next two vote-getters were William Knowles with 1347 votes and Roland Hofemann with 1268 votes. The interesting part is that this district is extremely Democratic and Phyllis is a staunch Republican. Yet she keeps getting reelected because she is willing to go out and talk to her constituents.
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exitus

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #61 on: March 25, 2003, 10:14:58 pm »

Thanks for all of the kind words.
Libertarian40, what you are saying is that if politicians can reach out to as many people as possible, at their doorsteps, they will have the best chance of success because personal contact is so effective, like in my personal reference above.  New Hampshire offers a lot of very small house districts with small areas, making the chance of getting a good-sized number of some of our libertarian types in office more feasible.  This is demonstrated by the fact that the New Hampshire election system is best able to get some of their people in office, through the much- touted stat, "How about highest # of elected Libertarians? "  So no doubt, personal contact is very important in getting people elected.

Another New Hampshire fan around here, Powerchuter, made the statement once that we all need to stay out of the big Western States because we all need to be in a "smaller cage" where we can mix it up a little more.  I countered with some stats on how in several states, such as Alaska and Wyoming, most of the people in the whole state live in just a few cities, making so that personal contact with huge numbers of an office's constituency possible right in one city, of course, this would leave out another part out in the rural areas that probably always gets left-out of the whole campaign process, but it demonstrates that this personal contact is still very possible out in the 'big sky conference' states.

Here is some bad news I found about New Hampshire, http://www.concordmonitor.com/stories/front2002/soltani_sidebar_2002.shtml, a story of a candidate who was  essentially shut-out of running for the house again because of re-districting.  Of course, this also validates Joe's point about how he has a chance of winning in a small district in Colorado, because of the use of the powerful tool of personal campaigning, and if the district was too far out of reach, it would take a lot of money to make-up for what personal campaigning by the candidate could do.

But once again, which is better? Having 36 of our guys in a 70- member house, or having 214 of our guys in a 426 member house? It all depends upon how much support they have from their constituency to act, personally, I would rather be one of those 214 guys holding less power and responsibility when our enemies combine and support starts dwindling, than one of those 36 guys with much more power and attention upon me in the same position, but eventually, we are going to have to have the support of the majority of the people in the state behind us when we start turning the state around towards that which makes the weak tremble, and that is liberty, self-government and personal responsibility.  Even though some states have a noticeable edge in certain areas, eventually, I would hope that we are all looking forward to placing not only a majority of freedom lovers in the house, but in the senate too, something which New Hampshire falls short of the rest of the states in, and then there are people in Federal offices; Congressmen and congresswomen, Senators and then pf course is that one statewide office that could make all the difference towards the creation of a free state, and that is having a governor on our side for liberty, and there's really only one of those in each of our states, (I know New Hampshire does have a unique secondary office there too), but each of our states really only has one governor.  That has got to be one gutsy man or woman who is going to be willing to stand behind some of our goals.  I would rather that governor have only 25% of Wyoming's population crying for his ouster than 25% of New Hampshire's!

OK I said I was going to try to be brief, and look at me, back at it again.  I hope all these points make sense.  .  .  

_________________

Oh, and by the way, in relation to my numbers about my casual efforts here in California.  I can't wait to get talking with noticeably more liberty- friendly people, like in Idaho, New Hampshire, Wyoming . . . then think of the synergy of our neighbors meeting several of us every week, all while actual political success is happening.  I would dare say I am going to be bringing in at least 10-20 people a year through casual contacts once we all move to the same state and get this ball rolling. . .
 
« Last Edit: March 25, 2003, 10:31:24 pm by exitus »
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Zxcv

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #62 on: March 25, 2003, 11:34:16 pm »

Thank you, Joe, for patiently going over this again (I know you've hit us with this before; I guess some things don't stick in my old brain so well). And I should know it too, because I've gone door-to-door before. But I was never the actual candidate, trying to hit every voter in the district. And you are right, personal contact with the voter is a very good way to get elected. So it is pretty important, after all.

Hmmm, I wonder if I should put district sizes in the big spreadsheet? You've done all the work, it will be easy. Except there is this issue with states that have different-sized districts, not sure how to handle that.

Exitus, I agree with you as well. We have to work the cultural end of things, too. I'm not as pessimistic as Joe on this point. We are not just getting the "low-hanging fruit", to have more difficulty later. People are not static in their belief. If you look at "memetics" (I think that's what they call it, about the spread of ideas), things are much more fluid. Early in the 20th century there was a huge swing toward "progressivism" (a pretty word for statism); now over the last 20 years or so we've seen cultural progress toward freedom although that is not yet reflected very much in government. But that will happen too if the swing continues (e.g., a lot of people are giving up on government schools).
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stpeter

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #63 on: March 25, 2003, 11:36:30 pm »

Joe, I just want to thank you for your continued dose of realism. People can speculate all they want, but you've truly and literally walked the talk.

As to East vs. West, I grew up in Maine and have lived in NY, NJ, PA, VA, GA, and CO. Most people in WY live in towns like Cody or Casper, anywhere from 5k to 50k people. They're fairly compact and good for campaigning, or so it seems to me from travelling through WY quite a bit. I don't see anything in WY that would prevent pounding the pavement in the way Joe describes. And certainly any putative downsides of WY-style population concentrations are far outweighed by the fact that WY has the smallest population and the best average ratio of citizens to representatives. Hey, I like NH a lot, it's a great place. It's just not going to make the best Free State (at least not the first time around...).
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Robert H.

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #64 on: March 26, 2003, 03:37:35 am »

I don't see anything in WY that would prevent pounding the pavement in the way Joe describes. And certainly any putative downsides of WY-style population concentrations are far outweighed by the fact that WY has the smallest population and the best average ratio of citizens to representatives.

An added advantage of fewer general population centers (as long as they are not too overly huge - like Anchorage) is that more of us would be voting and otherwise supporting one another to a greater degree in the same elections.  Not only would the candidates themselves have a simpler time of reaching the electorate, but those of us trying to support them would be able to campaign for them with greater credibility; as locals, not outsiders.

Thus, we could use our combined numbers to maximum effect right down to the lower level elections since more of us would be located within the same districts.

craft_6

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #65 on: March 26, 2003, 10:15:10 am »

An added advantage of fewer general population centers (as long as they are not too overly huge - like Anchorage) is that more of us would be voting and otherwise supporting one another to a greater degree in the same elections.  Not only would the candidates themselves have a simpler time of reaching the electorate, but those of us trying to support them would be able to campaign for them with greater credibility; as locals, not outsiders.

Thus, we could use our combined numbers to maximum effect right down to the lower level elections since more of us would be located within the same districts.

Despite their other advantages, the large western states such as Alaska, Wyoming, and Idaho would seem to be at a disadvantage when it comes to campaigning, as compared to small eastern states like Vermont, Delaware, or New Hampshire.  

Even with the less evenly distributed populations in the western states, the chances of drawing campaign support from the entire population of 20,000 FSPers would be remote.  In a smaller state, FSPers from throughout the state could help campaign in a single targeted district at the same time, offsetting the advantages of better-financed opposition candidates.  In the larger states, only local FSPers could be counted on to help in a given district, and it would be harder to focus resources on one district at a time.

I still think the western states are more liberty-oriented to begin with, which could offset this disadvantage, however.

I also think we shouldn't make Anchorage out to be some northern version of Washington, D.C., or New York -- it's a small city.  Of the western states, Alaska would seem to offer the best concentration of activists for campaigning, since the majority of FSPers would probably locate in or near Anchorage.  
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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #66 on: March 26, 2003, 12:37:07 pm »

Quote
Even with the less evenly distributed populations in the western states, the chances of drawing campaign support from the entire population of 20,000 FSPers would be remote.  In a smaller state, FSPers from throughout the state could help campaign in a single targeted district at the same time, offsetting the advantages of better-financed opposition candidates.
When I think of the campaign work I've done, this advantage of small states seems like a pretty small advantage!

Consider:
1) Campaign contributions can come from anywhere, even outside the state. State physical size matters not at all.
2) Database work for the campaign, with the internet, also means size is about meaningless. Really all you need anyway is a home PC and some computer-literate person to deal with this.
3) Filing campaign reports - distance to the state capital used to matter, but lately this is done over the internet too, and anyway it's typically done only 5 or 6 times in a campaign.
4) Door-to-door work - this is best done by the candidate herself, with perhaps one other worker handling the other side of the street. Physical size of the state does not matter. If the door-to-door work is for a local ballot measure, yes, what you say applies somewhat - but is it really that much harder finding workers within a small city, than within many smaller nearby towns? For state ballot measures, again, state physical size does not matter much; every worker goes door-to-door in their own area.

Most campaign volunteers, let's face it, work on campaigns for candidates in their district, not for someone 20 miles over in the next town.

I simply cannot buy this physical size difficulty, for anything other than statewide races (and that only in such areas as distribution of campaign material), or states that are largely rural in population (none of our states apply). Yes, there are a few small things that work better in one configuration of state or another, but it's really hard to say how that plays out. For example, if you were running for an at-large seat in the county commission, and you had the choice of a county with a single prominent city in the county seat, or multiple smaller towns, which would you prefer to campaign in?
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Robert H.

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #67 on: March 27, 2003, 03:15:19 am »

In a smaller state, FSPers from throughout the state could help campaign in a single targeted district at the same time, offsetting the advantages of better-financed opposition candidates.

They could certainly do this to some extent, but I would question to what degree those from outlying districts would be able to campaign on behalf of others.  Opposition forces could use that to make forceful arguments about local FSP candidates "bringing in outside special interests."

Quote
In the larger states, only local FSPers could be counted on to help in a given district, and it would be harder to focus resources on one district at a time.

The good thing here is that, due to the "population" pockets found in the western states, it is likely that a larger number of porcupines would be local to one another.

Quote
I also think we shouldn't make Anchorage out to be some northern version of Washington, D.C., or New York -- it's a small city.  Of the western states, Alaska would seem to offer the best concentration of activists for campaigning, since the majority of FSPers would probably locate in or near Anchorage.  

True.  Anchorage is actually small in relation to what most people think of as a "city," and most FSPer's would undoubtedly live in or near it (I'd speculate around 80% - 16,000).  I just used Anchorage in a "large" sense here as it seems to have a smaller number of seats available among a larger voting population.

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #68 on: March 28, 2003, 10:14:01 am »

I simply cannot buy this physical size difficulty, for anything other than statewide races (and that only in such areas as distribution of campaign material), or states that are largely rural in population (none of our states apply). Yes, there are a few small things that work better in one configuration of state or another, but it's really hard to say how that plays out.

I don't have any personal campaign experience (yet), so I would defer to those who do, but one advantage of a geographically smaller state seems obvious to me:

If a single district, or small number of districts, is targeted, FSPers from throughout the state could undertake a campaign literature saturation strategy.  For example, if a state has 20 districts, target two of them and have (potentially) 10,000 activists visit each and hand out a two-page position paper for the FSP candidate.  This would directly bypass the biased local paper most citizens don't read anyway.  A website address with more in-depth explanations and supporting data could be included.

Would people from 20 or 30 miles away be viewed as outsiders?  If you wake up and find a campaign brochure on your door, you wouldn't know who left it there anyway.  Many people don't want to be hassled by door-to-door politicians or political activists, but they will usually at least look at something on their door before tossing it out.

Could a literature saturation strategy like this work?  In my 3 decades plus of life, I've never seen anyone try it.  I've never even received a single personal visit from a candidate for any office, or a single political flyer of any kind.  Of course, I have received numerous mailings from entrenched politicians who have the franking privilege.

FSP activists could take the message of liberty directly to the voters, bypassing the media, if they are able to concentrate their forces in one area.




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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #69 on: March 28, 2003, 11:06:50 am »

Yes, you've come up with a good example. The problem with this example, is that campaigns and elections don't happen in isolation. While the guy you are targeting is running, there is another guy in your own district who has one vote in the legislature just like the targeted guy has. So most people in the various districts will be working on the campaigns in their own districts. The FSP-successor organization will be making more than two or three endorsements.

But yes, there may be special cases, even in the context of a general election. For example we may have a candidate who promised us he'd vote a particular way on an issue, then turned around and screwed us (this has happened to NRA a couple of times - a candidate takes a pile of money from them to get elected, and then works against them on every vote). In those cases we would want to allocate as many people as we could to get this person out. Certainly not 10,000, but maybe 500 extra workers which would be a lot. Then, what you say applies.

However, one extra point. It is not distance that matters, but time. And quality of time spent. I'd rather spend one hour driving fast across a beautiful western landscape, than 50 minutes trying to get across Wilmington during rush hour.   ;)
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George Reich

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #70 on: March 28, 2003, 11:28:03 am »

Could a literature saturation strategy like this work?  In my 3 decades plus of life, I've never seen anyone try it.  I've never even received a single personal visit from a candidate for any office, or a single political flyer of any kind.  Of course, I have received numerous mailings from entrenched politicians who have the franking privilege.

This is most interesting to me. You've never had a candidate knock on your door?? If you don't mind saying, craft_6,  which state do you live in?
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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #71 on: March 28, 2003, 12:13:26 pm »

This is most interesting to me. You've never had a candidate knock on your door?? If you don't mind saying, craft_6,  which state do you live in?

I have lived in six different states.  Political campaigns have appeared to me, a relatively well-informed voter, as consisting largely of yard signs (Vote for Joe!), 10-second radio and TV ads (largely smearing the main opponent), and glossy mailings from career politicians, trying to prove they've accomplished something with all the money they take from us in taxes.

I think a true grassroots political movement could reach people much more effectively than anything I've personally seen so far.  Some of the ballot initiative drives in states I have lived in seem to consist largely of having volunteers or minimum-wage activists hassling shoppers for petition signatures in shopping malls.

Whoever is trying to reach me, they are not succeeding.  Perhaps this is due to living mostly in apartments, or out in the country, but I have lived in suburban houses as well.

Political discourse in this country seems largely to be at an infantile and negative level.  Voters (and many non-voters) might respond to a polite and slightly more intellectual personal campaign, including direct delivery of position papers.
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George Reich

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #72 on: March 28, 2003, 02:06:23 pm »

This is most interesting to me. You've never had a candidate knock on your door?? If you don't mind saying, craft_6,  which state do you live in?

I have lived in six different states.  Political campaigns have appeared to me, a relatively well-informed voter, as consisting largely of yard signs (Vote for Joe!), 10-second radio and TV ads (largely smearing the main opponent), and glossy mailings from career politicians, trying to prove they've accomplished something with all the money they take from us in taxes.

I think a true grassroots political movement could reach people much more effectively than anything I've personally seen so far.  Some of the ballot initiative drives in states I have lived in seem to consist largely of having volunteers or minimum-wage activists hassling shoppers for petition signatures in shopping malls.

Whoever is trying to reach me, they are not succeeding.  Perhaps this is due to living mostly in apartments, or out in the country, but I have lived in suburban houses as well.

Political discourse in this country seems largely to be at an infantile and negative level.  Voters (and many non-voters) might respond to a polite and slightly more intellectual personal campaign, including direct delivery of position papers.

I think I am beginning to understand why voter turnout is higher in New Hampshire than in other states.
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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #73 on: March 29, 2003, 09:26:02 pm »

I think I am beginning to understand why voter turnout is higher in New Hampshire than in other states.
Why is that? My perception of Western states is that (at least in Presidential elections) there is a feeling that the race has been decided by the time they go to the polls, so why bother? Or maybe they've realized the general futility of political action. :-) There are probably many reasons why voter turnout is higher in some places than in others -- perhaps Jason could shed light on this given his academic research...
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George Reich

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #74 on: March 29, 2003, 10:08:30 pm »

I think I am beginning to understand why voter turnout is higher in New Hampshire than in other states.
Why is that? My perception of Western states is that (at least in Presidential elections) there is a feeling that the race has been decided by the time they go to the polls, so why bother? Or maybe they've realized the general futility of political action. :-) There are probably many reasons why voter turnout is higher in some places than in others -- perhaps Jason could shed light on this given his academic research...

craft_6 wrote that he has lived in six different states and has never had a candidate knock on his door. In NH, candidates do knock on your door. I guess I was figuring that would make people tend to turn out more...

I'm sure there are many other reasons, too, though. Turnout was sky-high here in 2002 because the Democratic gubernatorial candidate proposed introducing an income tax. That really got people riled up and about 60,000 more than expected turned out. (He absolutely ruined the NH Democratic party with this foolish position). Also in NH, you are likely to live near and know the candidates for your state representative(s) - maybe that is a factor in turnout, too.
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