Analyzing the Freedom Orientation of Existing State Populations
Analyzing the Freedom Orientation of Existing State Populations
The political predisposition and climate of each of the 10 FSP candidate states is an important element, worth tracking and factoring in to our overall decision. One FSP member opined that, "EVERY state in this country contains a large majority too disgusted/apathetic to vote. And an overwhelming majority of those that DO vote are too confused/ignorant to make a consistent expression of their political disposition."
Like a good many generalizations, there is a degree of truth to that statement that should be acknowledged, but like all generalizations, it is best not to make life-changing decisions based on it.
Most people would question the assertion that the "overwhelming majority" (itself an inherently subjective term) in this country falls under the "confused/ignorant" characterization, but trying to prove or disprove the veracity of the statement is not a worthwhile exercise. Suffice to say that there are many people today who make conscious decisions not to participate and/or vote. Many people today proudly proclaim that they neither register nor vote, and have ready-made reasons why. Whatever their reasons, and whatever we individually may think of their reasoning, it indicates that at least some thought went into their decision.
However, all of this is peripheral to my central theme. Voter "apathy," "disgust," "ignorance," and "confusion" are not correct factors to focus on or gauge. We must discover a method of measuring a voting population's "predisposition." And while it would be helpful, indeed great, to know why the non-voters chose not to vote, such an investigation could easily become a rabbit hole diverting us from more important measurements.
In short, it is the voters amongst the voting age population (VAP) in the candidate states who warrant scrutiny.
Let me throw some numbers out. In the United States, the numbers breakdown as follows:
- 196 million eligible voters.
- 146 million registered voters.
- 96 million who actually voted (49 percent of eligible voters).
The above figures are helpful, but have limited utility. Let's move on to a more important subset of information. In the 2000 elections, the voter turnout within the 10 FSP candidate states breaks down as follows (from highest turnout percentage to the lowest):
Why would Maine and Idaho, two states with quite similar voting age populations (VAP), have such a marked disparity in voter turnout? Proportionately, approximately 130,000 (10.7%) more decided to vote in Maine than in Idaho. Were the voters in Idaho "apathetic"? "Disgusted"? Were they disenfranchised or less civic-minded? What does this raw difference in numbers, some 130,000, mean for the FSP? Can we capitalize on this? If so, the information should certainly be factored in.
Better yet, and more salient to the issue regarding political predisposition/climate of each of the 10 candidate states, what can we conclude from those who did vote? Consider these figures (collected from http://www.fairvote.org/turnout/prevote2000.htm):
Now, these numbers are telling, but before I go on, let me say this: While I would definitely agree with those who warn against automatically assuming that voting for a Republican is better than voting for a Democrat---the equivalent of, say, picking between two lethal poisons---that was not the perceived case in the 2000 elections. Indeed, I think it's safe to say that going into the elections (regardless of what has happened since), few imagined the Bush/Cheney ticket to be greater "Statists" (Big S) than the Gore/Lieberman duet. And fewer still were prepared to argue that Gore, given his horrid record during the Clinton years, would be a better protector of liberty than the politically untested and relatively unknown Bush. One man was the sidekick of a president who did all he could to grow the central government more than any other in the history of the Union. The other was the son of a previous president and was being pitched as a Reaganesque figure who believed in smaller government. Reality has proved different, to be sure, but that was the "tale of the tape" going into the 2000 elections. From a Libertarian point of view, there was little choice in 2000: Few of us opted to vote for Gore.
But what do the numbers above say? For the sake of consistency, let's look again at the two states with the similar VAP numbers, Maine and Idaho:
First we need to do some rudimentary grouping: Grouping together Al Gore (Democratic Party), Ralph Nader (Green Party), and Dr. John Hagelin (Natural Law Party) yields a total of 357,708 votes for discernable Statists in Maine.
Similarly, lumping George Bush (Republican Party) together with Pat Buchanan (Reform Party), Howard Philips (Constitution Party), and Harry Browne (Libertarian Party), shows that there was a total of 294,710 votes for discernable Small-Government candidates in Maine. That's 357,708 votes for "Big G" candidates versus 294,710 votes for "Small G" candidates, a difference of 21%. That is, 21% more people voted for recognizably "Statist" (Big G) candidates in Maine, a state that already has a larger percentage of the population voting than the national average (67.4% in Maine vs. 49% for the national average). Not promising for FSP goals is it?
Now contrast the above with Idaho, which had 144,869 votes for the "Statists" while 349,601 voted for "Small G" candidates. That's 141% more votes for recognizably "Small G" candidates in the State of Idaho than for "Big G" candidates. That's almost 2 Ã‚Â½ times as many people in a state that on average (adjusted) had 10.7% less of the VAP participating than in Maine. Not only does this make Idaho a promising candidate for the FSP to begin with, but there is also room to gain additional supporters from the block of non-voters who, for whatever reason, chose not to vote. (Incidentally, Idaho VAP, although much less active than Maine's, still outperformed the national average---53.7% in Idaho to the 49% national average.)
The same analysis could be applied across the remaining 8 candidate states, giving us an additional lens through which to look at our candidates and measure our real chances of success. In short, the "political predisposition" of a state can make a huge difference for us, and these voting figures, measured together with other known factors such as gun control, home schooling, etc. can help us significantly. Thus, with additional number crunching across the 10 candidate states, a picture begins to emerge.
|VT||63.7%||169,042 votes||122,685 votes||37% Big G|
|ME||67.4%||357,708 votes||294,710 votes||21% Big G|
|DE||56.3%||188,463 votes||139,044 votes||35% Big G|
|NH||62.3%||288,504 votes||279,211 votes||3% Big G|
|MT||61.5%||162,292 votes||248,791 votes||53% Small G|
|SD||58.2%||118,804 votes||197,458 votes||66% Small G|
|AK||64.4%||102,530 votes||174,596 votes||70% Small G|
|ND||60.4%||105,510 votes||183,211 votes||73% Small G|
|ID||53.7%||144,869 votes||349,601 votes||141% Small G|
|WY||59.7%||60,908 votes||152,851 votes||151% Small G|
Here we can see that the statement made by politicos and election analysts---that the western "fly-over" states tend to be more conservative, small government states---is certainly true with our candidates. Indeed, the numbers are most revealing when compared against the FSP candidate states in the East.
Although there are Libertarian Party (LP) constituencies in states like Maine and New Hampshire, the overall numbers are more telling. In fact all the eastern states except NH have a strong statist predisposition. And while New Hampshire is putting up a good fight, it would appear their days are numbered as the ongoing influx of statist voters from Massachusetts looking for more affordable homes continues unabated.
There is another way to measure political predisposition in a state, and that is political party registration. Consider these VAP figures for, variously, Alaska, Maine, Delaware, and New Hampshire as of 2000 (with a separate analysis for each state).
(NOTE: * All data is for September, October or November 2000, except Maine,
which is for June 2000.
** The parties in the "Other" column are: In Alaska, 19,346 Alaskan Independence and 2,094 Republican Moderate.
*** Dashes mean that the voters are not permitted to register into a particular party, since the particular party is not, or was not, qualified in that state, and the state won't let people register into unqualified parties. A question mark means that the state has not tabulated the number of registrants in a particular party.)
NOTES: Typically independents (Indep) could be nullified, as they tend to split down the middle and cancel each other out. However, sometimes a particular state's registered "Independent" voters tend to lean heavily towards Statist or non-Statist platforms which can be measured again and again. This gives us an indication of the "political predispositions" of the registered Independents as a voting block of the state in question. So let's start:
248,374 Registered Independents.
- 80,828 voters registered with "Big G" parties.
- 144,453 voters registered with "Small G" parties.
- Raw registered voter numbers: 78% more predisposed to "Small G" parties over "Big G" parties.
- Raw 2000 Presidential numbers including Independents: Alaskans voted 70% more for "Small G" candidates.
- Difference between 70% and 78%: Margin indicating Independent split between Big G and Small G candidates; that is, in the election Independents tended to vote 8% more in favor of Big G candidates than raw voter registration numbers would indicate. If Independents had split the same way the political party registration numbers had split, then the vote in the presidential election would have been 78% more for Small G candidates instead of 70% more.
330,430 Registered Independents.
- 283,139 voters registered with "Big G" parties.
- 268,768 voters registered with "Small" G parties.
- Raw Registered Voter numbers: 5% more predisposed to "Big G" parties over "Small G" parties.
- Raw 2000 Presidential numbers including Independents: Maine voted 21% more for "Big G" candidates.
- Difference between 5% and 21%: Significant percentage indicating Independents lean towards Big G candidates.
115,228 Registered Independents.
- 215,322 voters registered with "Big G" parties.
- 172,771 voters registered with "Small" G parties.
- Raw Registered Voter numbers: 24% more predisposed to "Big G" parties over "Small G" parties.
- Raw 2000 Presidential numbers including Independents: Delaware voted 35% more for "Big G" candidates.
- Difference between 24% and 35%: Significant percentage indicating Independents lean towards "Big G" candidates.
>>>>>> The most interesting so far is New Hampshire.<<<<<<
224,564 Registered Independents.
New Hampshire Totals:
- 224,564 voters registered with "Big G" parties.
- 302,138 voters registered with "Small" G parties.
- Raw Registered Voter numbers: 34% more predisposed to "Small G" parties over "Big G" parties. (great!)
- Raw 2000 Presidential numbers including Indpendents: NH voted 3% more for "Big G" candidates (that's a killer).
- Difference between 34% and a 3% swing: Significant percentage indicating Indpendents leaned heavily towards Big G candidates.
Here is a classic example of Independents reversing the Big Party fates and fortunes, and subsequently the fate and fortune of the state. In this case, NH independents made a conscious decision to vote for Al Gore---who was understood to be a hard core left-winger, big government, and UN (New World Order) advocate---over George Bush, who at the time was portrayed as a small government, "local empowerment," anti-NWO advocate.
Looking at the numbers again, this time from the "Registered Voters" perspective, we get similar results where the states in the East appear to have insurmountable Big Government/Statist leanings. The one state that was not East coast, Alaska, registered similar numbers to those of my previous analysis using the raw 2000 Presidential numbers.
I suspect running the "Registered Voter" figures against the western based "fly-over" states would also look similar to the previous numbers. The important thing to note here is that, when using the "Registered Voter" numbers, the eastern states indicate an even heavier bias toward Big Government parties than our first analysis using the total presidential vote numbers.
Either way, there are no conflicts between the raw presidential vote totals and the "Registered Voter" numbers. In fact, the figures support and corroborate each other.
In the end, the FSP must pick from amongst those states that offer a real chance of succeeding in its audacious plan. Population size is critical but political predisposition, judging from the evidence so far, may be just as important. We cannot expect to effect a major change in the prevailing attitude (read "political predisposition") of the existing population in a state. We can only hope to make incremental changes over time. Therefore, the FSP must seek out those groups of people who are most amenable to our beliefs.
The FSP can work with those states that have a large percentage of non-voters (call them the "disgusted," the "disenfranchised," or the "moral abstainers"). They are fodder for our canon.
But far more important are those voters that get out and vote in every election. With respect to them, this much is true: The greatest chasm between the FSP and success is that between between a Libertarian and a Democrat. And the shortest distance between us and success is that between a Libertarian and a Philips supporter (Constitution Party), followed closely by a Buchanan-ite, and then, most importantly, by a Republican.