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Author Topic: Analysis of State Legislatures  (Read 38765 times)

Solitar

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Analysis of State Legislatures
« on: December 07, 2002, 01:59:51 pm »

INTRODUCTION:

I've tabulated a fair amount of data for each member of all ten state legislatures. The lists are in comma delimited format so you can copy and paste into your own spreadsheet.

They can now be found at:
State Legislature Report for the Free State Project

These lists are details about the state Representatives and Senators the Free Staters will be personally dealing with or running against.  Any incumbent who won with over 60% of the vote will be a tough opponent. Those who won with 80% or were unopposed may be extremely hard to unseat.

New information on New Hampshire -- a change for the worse because the legislature couldn't agree on 400 representative district boundaries, the courts did it for them -- with multi-seat districts. Everyone in a multi-seat House district runs at large and the top vote getters get the available seats. Here is a description:
Quote
Whoever is chosen to serve in the House this year from District 86 will not be serving 3,089 residents — the number of residents that represents the ideal population for a House district obtained by dividing the entire population of the state by 400 — but will serve 21,559 residents, the total population of Portsmouth and Newington combined. The court contends the plan it established protects the concept of one person/one vote, but to our mind it does just the opposite. In addition, the costs involved for a candidate trying to get his or her message out to the residents in 11 or more communities may be prohibitive for someone running for a position that pays $100 a year, plus mileage to Concord. The result may be fewer candidates running in larger districts, and that certainly does not help the democratic process. And, finally, the court's plan further removes the voters in these large multitown districts from their representatives.
http://www.seacoastonline.com/news/rock/r8_2_e1.htm
(though the link is likely now a dead-end)

Overall though, as FreedomRoad concludes below, the best states for access to both chambers of their legislatures are:
Vermont
Wyoming
North Dakota
and I'll add Montana (as much as I'd hate to admit it)

Number of people per representative district using 2002 population figures:
VT & NH have some mult-seat districts and all of SD, ND house districts are 2-seaters.
  3,089  to 43,246   New Hampshire   (some multi-seat districts 400 reps for 1,235,786 people. Detailed breakdown is on page 5 here)
  4,059 to 8,118   Vermont   (some 2-seat districts and 150 reps for 608,827 people)
  8,230   Wyoming   (60 reps for 493,782 people)
  8,443   Maine   (151 reps for 1,274,923 people)
  9,022   Montana   (100 reps for 902,195 people)
13,106   North Dakota   (2-seat districts and 98 reps for 642,200 people)
15,673   Alaska   (40 reps for 626,932 people)
19,112   Delaware   (41 reps for 783,600 people)
21,567  South Dakota   (2-seat districts and 70 reps for 754,844 people)
36,962   Idaho   (2-seat districts and 70 reps for 1,293,653 people)

Number of people per senate district using 2002 population figures:
13,106   North Dakota (49 senators for 642,200 people)
16,460   Wyoming   (30 senators for 493,782 people)
18,044   Montana   (50 senators for 902,195 people)
20,294   Vermont   (30 senators for 608,827 people)
21,567   South Dakota   (35 senators for 754,844 people)
31,346   Alaska   (20 senators for 626,932 people)
36,426   Maine   (35 senators for 1,274,923 people)
36,962   Idaho   (35 senators for 1,293,653 people)
37,314   Delaware   (21 senators for 783,600 people)
51,491   New Hampshire   (24 senators for 1,235,786 people))

FreedomRoad’s Conclusion:
Quote
When both House and Senate district sizes are considered, North Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming [and Montana] have the smallest overall  district sizes.  If you consider Wyoming having term limits and a ballot initiative process, it moves even farther ahead of the rest of  the pack.

When all four factors are considered, Idaho, New Hampshire, and Delaware stand out as being the hardest to access as far as  state legislative assembly is considered. These states are all hit by not having term limits and New Hampshire does not even have a ballot initiative process.
   
It should be no surprise that the least populated states tend to have the smallest districts and the most populated states tend to  have the largest districts.  What is interesting, though, is that Alaska and Delaware have such large district sizes considering their  low populations.

I’ll add the following:

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. If most of the FSP'ers concentrate in only a couple large districts, then getting those additional Senators or Reps may be harder.

New Hampshire at least has some single-seat or two-seat districts which would open the door to getting a small caucus in the legislature but the NH Senate is a tough nut with only 24 seats BUT there are a lot of first term senators who had some house experience. Thus even the Senate is doable after the FSP'ers gain some experience. This may be more doable than tackling long-term ID or WY incumbents though the latter will soon be term limited.

During the course of this research
Diana wrote:
Quote
Joe, I don't know what to make of all the information you posted about the state legislatures (most obvious recent example). You write clearly, it is the information I sometimes don't understand the meaning or significance of.
The legislature detail is for the eventuality where activists move to a specific town and thus to a specific legislator's district. Eventually, if they want to have a majority in that state, they have to go after that legislator's job by defeating that specific legislator. It will be especially hard if that legislator is an entrenched politician or has no term limits. Yes, it does become personal and that is why I posted that personal detail when I could find it. Can at least half of the legislative seats be taken away from the incumbents with a doable campaign? If not, then another state must be considered.

Examples:
Each of those contests boils down to a personal match between an FSP'er and one of those incumbents and at least one other challenger. Will the FSP'ers have the ability to do defeat those opponents? Can an FSP activist and her or his campaign volunteers take the seat away from one of the following. Note that these two examples are not the most difficult opponents either.

Leon Smith, Lawyer from Twin Falls, Idaho who is a 3rd term Republican who ran unopposed.
or
Betty Nuovo, Lawyer from Addison County, Vermont who is a Democrat and incumbent since 1981 and who won a four way race with 30.4% of the vote? (for photo and bio see the pdf file at
http://vermont-elections.org/2003BioSketchWeb.pdf

In other words, if you were running for Betty's seat in the Vermont legislature, could you beat her? If you can't take her seat and those of other similarly entrenched incumbents, could your libertarian compatriots beat at least 76 of the 150 incumbents? If the answer is yes in at least a majority of the legislative seats, then the Free State has a chance there.

Again, using Vermont as an example:
I have posted on the above web page detailed info about the Vermont legislators and the minimum number of FSP Activists which are needed to effect a major change in the Vermont legislature.
It’s not nearly as hopeless as reports made it out to be. Please see the Vermont section of the web page. http://www.freestateproject.org/statelegs.htm

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 Socialist liberals either and that latter group are why the FSP’ers shy away from Vermont. Yet, Only 700  FSP votes in the districts at the bottom of the Vermont House members list would give Republicans a majority in the House! At least that would be an improvement. The Porcupines could work on the Republicans later -- reminding them of who they owe their success to and why. Hardball politics? You betcha!
« Last Edit: August 22, 2003, 10:55:17 pm by Joe, aka, Solitar »
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glen

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2002, 10:45:38 pm »

Hi Joe

Your thread idea is an outstanding example of how the free staters should be approaching the issue of picking a state. There is far too much opinion, guess work and argument for the sake of argument going on in this forum.

Keep up the good work!
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Mary Lou Seymour (libertymls)

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2002, 08:03:13 pm »

Joe, this is excellent info. I have copied it and posted it on the email list devoted to political analysis, political_analysis@yahoogroups.com.

(As you know, I don't do well with forum technology and prefer email lists:-), if you get other states done i'd appreciate a holler. I'll also talk to the web guys about posting the info on the state reports web pg.

This is invaluable info not only for picking a state but for proceeding once we get there. I think many folks forget that the FSP is a political project, which means we're going to HAVE to learn how to do political analyses, pick winnable districts, count votes, and all the other things the statists do so well and we, as a whole, do so poorly.

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Anti-Federalist

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2002, 12:00:58 pm »

Joe, thanks for drawing my attention to this thread - once again you have provided a plethora of pertinent information.

It seems to me that your facts regarding ranking of states by voting age population per state rep., is very revealing, and makes Vermont a very strong first choice, all other things being equal.  As a former New Yorker, I have spent a number of vacations in Vermont, and intuit that the FSP might be warmly received there by some of the population (especially the farmers and small businessmen).  In this regard, we need to come up with convincing arguments for people with different "hot buttons" than ours.  For example, we need to show the environmentalists how FREEDOM can help their cause (e.g., by privatizing the State Parks, they could end up with more control - since it is likely that the Sierra Club or some other organization would be willing to outbid the competition).  Is this sort of planning/propaganda covered by another thread(s) already?

It seems to me that there are plenty of small counties in Vermont where FSPers could live and commute a reasonable distance to work in a larger city (or enjoy the amenities of a larger city, when desired).  Vermont is small enough that it doesn't take that long to get anywhere...  

Now if you could only make VT warmer  8) for those of us who left the North for FL
« Last Edit: December 27, 2002, 06:04:53 am by Anti-Federalist »
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Kelton

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2002, 01:35:19 am »

The Center for Public Integrity has done some very good hard-hitting journalistic analysis entitled, "State Legislators Routinely Weakening Ethics Laws".  It can be found at http://www.public-i.org/50states_01_072400_txt.htm
They have analyzed the decline of state ethics laws by legislative decree concerning conflicts of interest and proper disclosure of such conflicts of interest.

There is a lot of information in this report that may be somewhat spurious when viewed individually, the overall picture created in the analysis may be more useful for us.  The CPI is a little left-of-center as most media organizations are, but the work they have done in this report is quite objective and useful for purposes intended.  Most of the conclusions to be gained from this report may be better discussed over in the discussion called, "Free State Political Strategy
How to proceed once we get to our target state" http://forum.freestateproject.org/index.php?board=20

What is most interesting here is that they targeted the Delaware legislature for recent misdeeds in a special highlight.  They also ranked our ten states' legislatures ethics (according to their criteria) thus:

(in order from best to worst CPI standard of ethics):
Alaska -3rd best, with 95 points
Delaware -# 21, with 70 points
North Dakota #31, with 49.5 points
Maine #33, with 49 points
Montana #36 with 48 points
South Dakota #40, with 47 points
Wyoming #41, with 45 points
New Hampshire #44, with 36 points
Idaho #50, with 1 point
Vermont #50 (tie) with 1 point

It is interesting to note that there seems to be a slight bias in this report by CPI against "citizen legislators" who may own or operate a business while serving in lawmaker capacity, which is typical of leftist-liberals, but their point is well-made that it is unethical to hide that from the public.

The most hideous practice of all that CPI pointed-out may be the case in Rhode island where "In 1998, the Rhode Island Ethics Commission determined that lawmakers were improperly serving in both legislative and executive capacities by creating commissions and then serving on them." The legislature protested the outcome of the finding and went to the State Supreme Court in order to reverse the Ethics Commission decision, and won.
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TedApelt

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2002, 02:47:32 pm »


Each of those contests boils down to a personal match between an FSP'er and one of those incumbents and at least one other challenger. Will the FSP'ers have the ability to do defeat that opponent?
If the answer is yes in at least a majority of the legislative seats, then the Free State has a chance there.

A lot of this would depend on who we could get to run as candidates.  One thing that I haven't heard, and this worries me, is "I live in one of your states, and I would like to run for ______.  This is why I think I can do it if I had enough help."

If ANYONE, FSP member or not, lives in one of the 10 states on our list, and you think that you would make a good candidate, PLEASE post here.  Tell us why you think you would win, and how much money and volunteer effort it would take.

Please include an analysis of who you are running against, and why they can be defeated.
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Zxcv

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2002, 09:30:54 pm »

I wonder if FSPers ought to run. It will look pretty presumptuous for recent immigrants to want to run for office. I doubt folks in Wyoming will take to carpetbaggers like New York State does.  ;)

At least for a while (until we've acclimated politically), we should try to recruit locals to run for us. If we really can deliver a substantial number of  campaign workers, we will have something to bargain with. And if we can ensure no other candidate will enter the race to split the liberty vote, we'll REALLY have something.
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JasonPSorens

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2002, 01:00:51 pm »

As soon as all the data on all the states are available, I will put them all into a single file on the website.

Joe, with your permission I'll add you to the Research Committee.  You may be able to find some people there to help you on the remaining states.
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thewaka

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Re:Analysis of State Legislatures
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2002, 03:02:00 pm »

Mainly because of all the current discussion of how much better DE is than any other state under consideration, I have started some research on residency requirements for statewide and other not-so-local elected positions. Is any research already done or being done on this? I don't want to duplicate efforts and think this information is really important.

Diana
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TedApelt

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Analysis of state legislature control
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2003, 08:46:55 pm »

   state house   state senate   Closeness
State   D   R   D   R
AK   32.5   67.5   40   55   0.59
DE   29.3   70.7   61.9   38.1   0.84
ID   22.9   77.1   20   80   0.27
ME   53   44.4   51.4   48.6   0.89
MT   47   53   42   58   0.80
ND   29.8   70.2   34   66   0.47
NH   29.8   70.2   25   75   0.38
SD   30   70   25.7   71.4   0.39
VT   46.7   48.7   63.3   36.7   0.78
WY   25   75   33.3   67.7   0.41

Figures are percentages.  If they don't add up to 100%, (other than rounding), it is because of legislators who are not in either party.

"Closeness" is an attempt to measure how close one party or the other is to controlling both chambers.  It is calculated by adding together the "R" percentages, adding together the "D" percentages, then dividing the smaller by the larger.  Perfect "closeness" would be 1.00, which would mean that both parties are of equal strength.  This would be ideal for us.  Worst case "closeness" would be 0, which means that one party has 100% in both chambers, and would therefore have little or no use for us, and the other party would have no power, and therefore we would have little or no use for them.


Of special interest:

ME -The most balanced state.

ID -The most unbalanced state.

ME, MT - Close in both chambers

VT - The only state in which no party controls the house.  Also has the highest Independent percentage in the house  (4.7%) in all 50 states.

VT, DE -  Leans one way in the house, and the other way in the senate.

SD - Has the highest Independent percentage in the senate (2.9%) in all 50 states.

NH - Closest in the 2000 Presidential vote, but is still very unbalanced in the state legislature.



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Zxcv

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Re:Analysis of state legislature control
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2003, 02:11:12 am »

I'm not sure I buy the argument that "closeness" is an advantage.

Yes, when they are close, the party we use for a vehicle will need our help, and we should have some leverage with them.

On the other hand, when parties are close they tend to go as centrist as possible, trying to steal that last vote from the other party. R's start to act like D's and vice-versa. If we take as a given we are going to work with the R's (I know it's not a given, actually) then I'm not sure I'd be happy in such a centrist environment. Principles tend to get compromised even more than normally.

My personal experience is that when R's are chasing that last vote, it's not the things we don't like about R's that they drop, but the things that we do like. That is, instead of easing up on the drug war, they jump on the gun control bandwagon, or raise taxes! That's not good.

So anyway, it's not as clear-cut that an even balance between parties would be to our advantage, as it first appears.

Just a note about VT. It obviously presents a special case, because the D's have 63% of the House. Are we going to have to use the D's in that state? That would be interesting, considering how they are so beholden to the public employee unions and NEA...
« Last Edit: January 06, 2003, 02:12:05 am by Zxcv »
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JasonPSorens

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Re:Analysis of state legislature control
« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2003, 10:43:00 am »

I used to think closeness was an advantage, but now I'm not so sure.  Closeness increases the leverage of the Libertarian Party, but also increases the possibility that the LP will act as "spoilers."  In a one-party state like Idaho, working within the Republican party would be a given from the beginning.  We could take over Republican caucuses and achieve influence that way, rather than running competing candidates in general elections.  Put another way, a lack of closeness removes 1 barrier we would otherwise have: winning the general election.  All we have to do is win the primary or caucus, then sail to victory in the general election on the strength of our party affiliation.
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Re:Analysis of state legislature control
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2003, 11:02:33 am »

I used to think closeness was an advantage, but now I'm not so sure.  Closeness increases the leverage of the Libertarian Party, but also increases the possibility that the LP will act as "spoilers."  In a one-party state like Idaho, working within the Republican party would be a given from the beginning.  We could take over Republican caucuses and achieve influence that way, rather than running competing candidates in general elections.  Put another way, a lack of closeness removes 1 barrier we would otherwise have: winning the general election.  All we have to do is win the primary or caucus, then sail to victory in the general election on the strength of our party affiliation.
The only problem with that is that if one party or the other is too powerful, you won't win the primary unless you follow the party line on things.  Nobody will care how well you can reach out to the other side.

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JasonPSorens

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Re:Analysis of state legislature control
« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2003, 11:23:53 am »

That's a fair point, but from reports most state parties are fairly open & undisciplined; that is, they don't force policy positions on their candidates.  After all, the Christian Right was able to take over the Republican party by working at the local level.
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freedomroad

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Re:Analysis of state legislature control
« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2003, 07:44:53 am »

I used to think closeness was an advantage, but now I'm not so sure.  Closeness increases the leverage of the Libertarian Party, but also increases the possibility that the LP will act as "spoilers."  In a one-party state like Idaho, working within the Republican party would be a given from the beginning.  We could take over Republican caucuses and achieve influence that way, rather than running competing candidates in general elections.  Put another way, a lack of closeness removes 1 barrier we would otherwise have: winning the general election.  All we have to do is win the primary or caucus, then sail to victory in the general election on the strength of our party affiliation.
The only problem with that is that if one party or the other is too powerful, you won't win the primary unless you follow the party line on things.  Nobody will care how well you can reach out to the other side.



Good point.  So, it will help to pick a state that is already freedom loving based on its laws.  WY, SD, and AK are the most free states in the country according to my research.

Another important consideration is population.  The lower the population the better when you consider the working with the 'party of small government" Republicans.  WY, AK, ND, and VT are the low population states.  ND and VT tend to elect D to man of the highest offices.  While WY and AK tend to elect R.  SO, if we worked with the R party.  WY and AK would be are best states.  WY would be better than AK because of its much lower closeness %.  ND might even be as good as AK because its closeness rating % is lower than AK.  Either way, WY would be the best state for this.  The LP could be strengthened, at the same time, in WY.  This would force those of us that joined the R party to move the Republican policies to the libertarian side.  
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