Friday, November 9, 2012

Some more Libertarian stats: this time state and local

Here's the thing:  local candidates carry statewide and national candidates, and not the other way around.

I used the Gary Johnson and Scott Gesty vote totals as proxies for statewide.  I realize that other candidates got more votes statewide, but I think special circumstances pertained to the Lieutenant Governor and Insurance Commissioner races.  In LG, Margie was the recipient of the total third-party  anti-Demopublican vote since there was no Green candidate, and in IC there is a strong argument to be made that David picked up a lot of anti-KWS vote from people who would not pull the lever for Mobley.

Anyway, what I was interested in was voting patterns.

Statewide both Johnson and Gesty averaged 9 votes per voting district (of which there were 433).

But in the 170 districts in which we had a local General Assembly candidate running they both average 11 votes per district, as opposed to the other 263 districts in which they only averaged 8 votes per district.  Clearly there is a statistically relevant benefit to running candidates in as many districts as possible here.  If these stats hold, for example, both Johnson and Gesty would have benefited by an additional 700-800 votes.

Now, here's the thing:  our General Assembly candidates racked up 6003 votes in 170 districts for an average of 35 votes per district.  [If Johnson or Gesty had managed to hit that average across the state, they'd have totaled over 15,000 votes each.]

It matters significantly whether we run in 2-way or 3-way races. Our 2-way races collected 3913 votes in 65 districts for an average of 60 votes per district, while our 3-way races collected 2090 votes in 105 districts for an average of 20 votes per district.

We should be careful with these figures, however.  In the 14th Representative District Margaret Melson averaged 132 votes per district.  Margaret's race is clearly an outlier for two reasons:  the 14th has fewer voting districts than average (only 7) and there was a lot of anti-Pete Schwarzkopf sentiment in some parts of the district.  So if we remove her race from the 2-way tabulations, we have 2,988 votes in 58 districts for a district average of 50 votes.

On the other hand, both Margaret (132 votes/district) and James Christina (63 votes/district) showed that reasonably active campaigning can have a significant influence on our vote totals.  Again it is interesting to note that if our statewide candidates had even gotten the lower total of 20 votes per district they'd have doubled their numbers.

But, clearly, it is the local candidates who produce the most votes, because it is in the local races that our disability in terms of money can best be nullified.  Think of it this way:  if 35 votes per district is the average we can currently expect to receive in a mix of 2-way and 3-way races (even employing primarily paper candidates), then our potential statewide vote totals if we could run candidate in even 2/3s of the 433 districts would be about 10,150.  That doesn't mean we would have to run candidates in all races, just in all those districts (remember overlap from Senate and House voting districts).

What stands between us and 10,000 Libertarian votes in Delaware is about ten more candidates.

Moreover, if we are careful to recruit as many candidates as possible for 2-way races even against heavily entrenched incumbents, we could raise that total to 15,000.

15,000 votes in Delaware for Libertarian candidates in 2014?  It is possible, but . . . .

There are several caveats here:

1.  We still have to field strong statewide candidates if only for ballot access and PR purposes.  It is also important to create a Libertarian "ticket."  When people go into the voting booth and see eight Dems, five GOPers, and one Libertarian they are far less likely to ticket split.  We look like a small-time operation.  If, when they go into that booth they see a full LPD slate of state offices, a Clerk of the Peace, State Senate, and State Rep, this says "major party."

2.  We have to have volunteers for the candidates we do field.   I am convinced that what James Christina accomplished by himself and what I know from school board races about canvasing and lit drops that particularly in 2-way races we could potentially double or triple our results.

3.  We need a consistent statewide message to hang our publicity efforts, to include slogans, literature with common motifs, signs with common color schemes, etc.  The Democrats do this well, the Republicans do this poorly, and we don't do it at all.

More to come, but I would really like reactions.


Scott Gesty said...

If we field more candidates that are actually going to 'run', those candidates need to have volunteers to help. Having the candidates themselves dropping the literature, and standing outside polling places on election day alone, takes away credibility. Im not saying that the candidates sit on there asses and do nothing, but the candidates time needs to be focused on going places and talking to people, not getting up at 4am to put out signs at the polling places on election day.

With our size of active members now, the candidates = the volunteers. This has to change or the plan of increasing balloted candidates will only have marginal effects and won't win us any elections.

Steve Newton said...

Precisely my point. So the focus for 2013 has to be in growing the party to the point where local candidates have at least 3 dependable volunteers each, and statewide candidates have at least 10 spread through the 3 counties.

It should be easier to get someone to volunteer than to run, right?

That's the challenge.

Steve Boone said...

As a newcomer, I wonder if it might not help us to "be everywhere" for fairs, festivals, and the like to boost visibility, and to step outside our comfort zones to attend events we might not normally consider attending. In a small state, we have a greater chance for visibility. A speakers bureau, perhaps, on various issues? Legislative issues white papers so that we lend credence to our being interested and involed?

tom said...

we should probably wait for the Board of Canvas report (it comes out late November/early December) before trying to do too much more of this sort of analysis.

it includes a demographic breakdown of who voted (by party, age range & sex for each Election District and Office) and thereby eliminates a lot of the guesswork & false conclusions.

Scott Gesty said...

Good Point Tom. I didnt know there was such a report. That data would be helpful.

tom said...

Getting someone to volunteer is often as easy as asking. particularly if you start off by asking for small things that won't inconvenience the volunteer too much.

for example: could you put a sign in your yard? or, here's a list of houses in your neighborhood, to distribute these door-hangers to.

Steve Newton said...


There is not anything much else to be done with the current stats. But with the LPD Executive Committee preparing to meet soon it is important to get what we can tell from the stats we have on the table.

Craig said...

The argument made in the blog is very convincing -that having as many Libertarians as possible on the ballot increases the number of votes likely to be gained by each and every Libertarian candidate. As was stated, it drills home the notion that Libertarians represent a legitimate political force -that we're not some radical 3rd party with little chance of making a difference in the election. Having a long list of names on the ballot is truly the most powerful and effective form of advertisement we could hope for. Each and every candidate on the ballot represents yet another advertisement for the party as a whole. And it comes at the very time when recognition for the party is most critical -at the precise moment when one is in the process of casting their votes.