Best for Liberty? An Analysis of Three Leading States
by Robert Hawes
With the Free State Project (FSP) closing in on the
5,000-member mark, the time for the state vote is close at hand. After
rigorous research and debate, a few states have slowly migrated their way to
the top of our list of candidates, and it is time that we took a good, hard
look at these states to see which might make the best candidate for a future
free state: Idaho, New Hampshire, and Wyoming (in no particular
Many feel that all three of these states possess various virtues that rank them
as the most liberty-friendly states in the country, but the question remains:
which is best for liberty along the lines of what the FSP has in mind?
A few thoughts for your consideration
In terms of total population (from the
| New Hampshire
In his essay What Can 20,000
Liberty Activists Accomplish? Jason Sorens revealed that the FSP's target
participation level of 20,000 activists (as well as the slate of candidate
states) was chosen based on the example of Quebec's Parti Quebecois,
which achieved a parliamentary majority in 1976 as follows:
"At the time, the PQ had a paid membership of roughly 100,000,
while the population of Quebec at that time was 6.2 million. In other words,
having a paid member for every 62 citizens of the province gave the PQ a
parliamentary majority. Applying the same ratio to the FSP's membership goal,
we get 1.2 million population for a state in which 20,000 party members could
win majorities at the state level. The following states have less than 1.2
million population: Wyoming, Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont, South Dakota,
Delaware, Montana, Rhode Island (Hawaii, Idaho, New Hampshire, and Maine are
If you are trying to influence and reform government in a given region, it only
makes sense that your chances for doing so improve if the number of those who
support you is as large as possible in proportion to the total population of
that region. That is the logic of the FSP's plan: a higher number of
activists concentrated in a lower population region. Population was thus
the first criteria by which candidate states were selected.
That said, those that qualify based on their populations are not necessarily
equally workable. Those states that are further beneath that cut-off level are
logically better candidates (as long as there are not significant intervening
factors) due to the fact that they allow for progressively higher saturation
levels of activists with regard to the total and voting populations of a state.
Here is a ratio comparing the above three states (considering 1 FSP activist,
out of 20,000 total, for every state resident):
|| 1 to 24.5|
| New Hampshire
|| 1 to 61.8|
|| 1 to 64.7|
Rounding up, New Hampshire maxes out at the upper acceptable limit of the
activist-to-resident ratio (1 to 62), and Idaho clearly exceeds it. Wyoming,
on the other hand, is far below the threshold and thus represents more than
twice the saturation levels that the FSP could have in either New Hampshire or
But now let's say that the FSP does not attract 20,000 activists. Instead, it
only attracts 15,000. How do the numbers look then?
|| 1 to 33.0|
| New Hampshire
|| 1 to 82.4|
|| 1 to 86.3|
New Hampshire and Idaho are now far above the upper acceptable limit of the
activist-to-resident ratio, while Wyoming is still far beneath it. In fact,
Wyoming could drop to less than 8,000 activists and still equal the
activist-to-resident ratio in New Hampshire and Idaho. This means that at
full-strength, half-strength, or even less, Wyoming allows the FSP activists to
saturate the state's population more heavily than either Idaho or New
Hampshire, which grow dangerously out of reach as the number of activists is
reduced. This is a serious consideration for us. If we choose a state that
will take a full 20,000 hard-working participants, and we get any fewer than
that, or if they are not as activist as we need them to be, there is a great
likelihood that we could fail in our attempt to create a free state due to our
effective activists simply being vastly outnumbered.
Also, if we vote for a higher population state at 5,000, and then do not get
all 20,000, we could end up with a split in the FSP's ranks. According to the
FSP's FAQ, the assumption is that the FSP
will disband if it fails to reach 20,000 within five years of its start-up date
(September, 2001). If we have, say, only 12,000 in the FSP by 2006, and 3,000
have already moved, the remaining 9,000 will have to decide whether to join the
others in a place where we would likely not be able to create a free state,
give up and go their separate ways, or fall back to another state where 9,000
would have more of a realistic chance at attaining the goal. Choosing a smaller
state eliminates this issue as the need to fall back in the event that we fail
to reach 20,000 would be less likely to occur (particularly in Wyoming
there is no smaller state than this one).
- Voting-Age Population
Voting-age population numbers reflect the number of state residents that we
will be actively working with (or against) since they are the ones who are
eligible to vote and participate in the political process alongside us. The
more of them that there are, the more potential they have to either help us or
In terms of voting-age population (from the 2000 Census):
| New Hampshire
Idaho and New Hampshire are virtually the same here, at nearly one million
voting-age inhabitants each. However, notice again that Wyoming presents far
less of an obstacle.
20,000 FSPer's would represent:
|| 5.5% of voters|
|| 2.2% of voters|
| New Hampshire
|| 2.2% of voters|
Once again, we see that our saturation is much higher in Wyoming where we would
represent more than twice the total percentage of voting-age residents as in
either Idaho or New Hampshire. At 15,000 activists FSPer's would represent:
|| 4.1% of voters|
|| 1.6% of voters|
| New Hampshire
|| 1.6% of voters|
So if the FSP is only able to attract 15,000 or so activists to its chosen
state, we see that this would give us nearly three times the saturation among
voting-age residents in Wyoming as in either Idaho or New Hampshire. Which
figure are the politicians likely to take more seriously? Which figure is
likely to make more of a difference in a close election? The answer here may
very well be tied to our degree of influence and success in implementing our
- Urbanization Largest MSA's
These are the largest metropolitan areas (MSA's Metropolitan Statistical
Areas) that are fully within each candidate state (some may overlap with other
states, but these numbers do not incorporate the overlapping portion):
|| Boise City and Nampa|
| New Hampshire
Why list only the largest MSA's? Because it shows what is likely to be the
single most difficult area to access, influence, and reform. Conducting
campaigns in more heavily populated areas is generally much more difficult
because they tend to be havens of statist thought, government dependency, and
entrenched opposition. Welfare recipients and those who are more dependent
upon other forms of government assistance (such as public education and
housing) are more heavily concentrated in these areas. These folks are the
least likely to listen to our political reform message due to the fact that the
removal of such programs and services (as we would likely target) would impact
them first and foremost.
Densely populated areas are also home to big business interests, which are
often directly tied to political offices via campaign contributions and union
activism. Our intent to introduce greater competition in the market place, and
to remove preferences, would likely cut into the profit margins of such big
business entities, earning us their wrath as well as that of their political
partners. Political party machines are also generally more entrenched in such
areas due to the statist-driven infrastructure that they have put into place
and now maintain for a willing constituency.
The media is also a crucial element to larger population areas, and one that we
must not underestimate. Most of us realize that the media in this country is
overwhelmingly statist-oriented, particularly those media outlets owned and
operated by such industry giants as Gannett. Their message is very clearly a
Leftist one, and their power to do harm to budding movements such as ours is
enormous. They can focus both local and national attention on us, and while
this may not necessarily phase us, consider what impact it might have upon the
residents of our chosen state should they find themselves being ridiculed
before the nation because of something that we are driving. Embarrassment and
a desire to avoid controversy could create a backlash against us.
So, for those reasons, I decided to go with the sheer size of the largest MSA's
we'd be dealing with. As such, they represent places where campaigns might be
cheaper and less time-consuming, but they also represent ascending levels of
difficulty with regard to the other factors that I mentioned (which could
negate any advantages).
Which of these areas would presumably be easier for 15,000 or 20,000 activists
- Political History and Trends
This element reflects the degree to which a state has historically supported
lesser-statist or non-statist candidates (over a lengthy period of time). In
places where there is a more established history of support for
liberty-friendly candidates, we will find an electorate more willing to listen
to our message, and perhaps sooner than elsewhere.
Changing a state to be what we would like it to be, will be an uphill battle in
many ways, not the least of which is going to be persuading the electorate to
deviate from the current statist mentality that pervades this country. But the
further an electorate is from our ideological foundation, the longer it will
take us to educate them, hence the longer it will likely take for them to
support our reform efforts. We will have a large group of activists working
together, but we cannot do this by ourselves! We will have to convince a
relatively large portion of the present electorate to support us. How tough we
make that on ourselves, and thus how long it takes, is up to us.
With this idea, I present two measurements for your consideration:
The above two measurements show Wyoming and Idaho with a commanding lead over
New Hampshire. Note once again the size of voter turn-outs in these states and
judge yourself where the FSP's few thousand would have their largest impact on
the state vote.
- "High Votes for Conservative and Libertarian Presidential Candidates"
(from the FSP's State Data Page). This is
a ranking of how often our candidates states have supported more
|| No. 1 of 10|
|| No. 2 of 10|
| New Hampshire
|| No. 7 of 10|
- Analyzing the Freedom Orientation of Existing
State Populations by "Tennyson". In this analysis, Tennyson compares how
the states voted in the 2000 presidential election and ranks them by what
percentages they voted in favor of "Big Government" candidates and "Small
|| 71.5% for "Small Gov't" candidates
|| 60,908 to 152,851 votes with 59.7% voter
|| 70.1% for "Small Gov't" candidates
|| 144,869 to 349,601 votes with 53.7% voter
| New Hampshire
|| 51% for "Big Gov't" candidates
|| 288,504 to 279,211 votes with 62.3% voter
- Expense of Elections
When the FSPer's first start out, we're going to be low on both cash and
experience. We could always team up with the local GOP or libertarians, as has
been suggested, and this could have some advantages in saving us time, effort,
and expense. However, at the same time, any assistance they render us will
basically equate to a level of dependency that we will have on them. They
could assist us
at a price. A price that could slow our agenda or end
up compromising it completely depending upon the circumstances.
To succeed, we may have to join up with the local GOP (LP, Constitution Party,
or what-have-you) but we should also have an environment where we can run our
own candidates or at least support worthy candidates outside of main parties,
if necessary. Even if we do work within, say the GOP, there will still be:
primaries and run-offs; mailings; get-out-the-vote drives; television, radio
and newspaper ads to purchase (among a host of other things), and all of this
costs money. Our chances to successfully access the system in our candidate
states will thus be largely dependent upon how much it costs to get a chance at
The three states we are examining rank as follows (from "Low Campaign
Expenditures" ("Fin" variable) on the FSP's
State Data Page):
|| No. 3 out of 10|
|| No. 5 out of 10|
| New Hampshire
|| No. 10 out of 10|
- % Native Population = to FSP Acceptance?
The attitude of our new state's current inhabitants toward new-comers may
realistically impact our effectiveness there. Thus, the FSP may be more
acceptable to the residents of states in which a higher percentage of persons
are not native to that state. For instance, Maine seems to have quite a
reputation of being suspicious of those who are "from away." This is not
really surprising when you consider that, as of 1990, 70.6% of Maine's
population was native-born.
The three states we are examining rank as follows in terms of what percentage
of their population is actually native (from a
forum thread and thanks to Joe Swyers for compiling):
|| (43.4% in 1990)
|| No. 2 out of 10|
| New Hampshire
|| (45.8% in 1990)
|| No. 3 out of 10|
|| (52.1% in 1990)
|| No. 4 out of 10|
- Term limits
Term limits can assist by preventing opposition forces from using the power of
incumbency and name-recognition in order to permanently entrench themselves in
the legislature. In other words, term limits open up the field to greater
competition from those who might not otherwise be able to compete with
powerful, well-financed, political elite. This could be a powerful tool for us
to gain access to the system in whatever state we choose.
Of these three states, only Wyoming has term limits (which go into effect in
A voter initiative approved term limits in Idaho; however, the state
legislature repealed the measure. Idaho's governor vetoed the repeal, and the
legislature then voted to override his veto (50-20 in the House, 26-8 in the
Senate). A new effort is currently underway to secure term limits in Idaho.
New Hampshire does not, and has not had, term limits.
- Initiatives and Referendums
Initiatives allow state voters to bypass the legislature and governor and
propose a law or constitutional amendment to be placed on the ballot.
Referendums allow voters to vote on a law passed by the legislature in order to
keep it from taking effect. Both of these measures can be used to defeat
partisan political forces that might otherwise prove unassailable by means of
the normal legislative process, and could thus prove invaluable for our
Unions and Right-to-work Laws
- Idaho has both the initiative and referendum, and requires:
"All petitions for initiative and referendum must contain
signatures of registered voters equal to 6% (40,772 signatures) of the
qualified electors at the November 5, 2002 general election before being
considered for final filing." [Source]
- Wyoming has both the initiative and referendum, and requires:
"28,204 (signatures) 15% of the total votes cast in the
Idaho and Wyoming also require that those signing the initiative proposal
reside in a specified number of counties. Idaho's process is somewhat simpler
although it requires more signatures due to its larger population. (*Note
In Wyoming, the FSP's projected 20,000 would nearly muster enough
signatures just by themselves to put an initiative item on the ballot. In
Idaho, it would take a little over twice our own number).
- New Hampshire does not have either the initiative or referendum
In states without right-to-work laws, you could be required to join a union and
pay dues in order to hold a job. Unions are infamous for their political
activism, and you could very well find your dues going to support political
causes you do not agree with. States with powerful, forced-membership unions
would present a difficult obstacle for us, and in many cases, we would be
partially financing our own opposition.
Wyoming and Idaho both have right-to-work laws. New Hampshire is not a
right-to-work state; however, right-to-work legislation has been introduced
One particularly powerful union organization is the teacher's union. They have
considerable political clout because of their proximity to "the children," and
could give us a real battle when it comes to education reform issues.
Of the three states that we are considering here
- Wyoming does not allow for either teacher monopoly bargaining or
forced dues (the only one of our ten candidate states that meets this
description putting unions at their least powerful).
- Idaho allows for teacher monopoly bargaining, but not for forced
- New Hampshire allows both teacher monopoly bargaining and forced
Some Concluding Thoughts on These Three States
This report could be much longer and more involved; however, I believe that it
adequately addresses some of the most important issues in our consideration of
which state the FSP should select.
The main thrust of the FSP is an attempt on the part of, we hope, 20,000
activists to transform one state of the Union into a bastion of liberty.
Candidate states have been narrowed down based on two criteria to date: 1)
population and 2) liberty-orientation.
As explained previously, the FSP's 20,000 activists are targeted at states of
no more than 1.2 million inhabitants, based on the Quebec example. This is in
order to achieve the maximum possible saturation of FSP activists in relation
to the native population of that state. The higher the saturation of FSPer's,
the better our chances for success. Two states (Rhode Island and Hawaii) were
also eliminated; not due to their populations, but because they are infamous
statist strongholds. So population is not even the deciding element by itself.
Population and liberty-orientation must both prove to be reasonably favorable.
Of all of our candidate states, and particularly among what appear to be the
top three most-considered states, Wyoming stands out strongly due to the
fact that it is one of the most liberty-friendly states in the country, and
allows us the maximum possible saturation of FSP activists among the general
inhabitants due to its low population. Even among the lower population states,
Wyoming still maintains a commanding lead.
Here are some other things to consider about these states
- New Hampshire
New Hampshire boasts some impressive personal liberty provisions and incentives.
For instance, seatbelt and helmet usage are not required there, nor is auto
liability insurance. New Hampshire ranks 2nd in the FSP's "gun freedom"
measurement, and is 2nd in expected job outlook (behind Idaho). New Hampshire
has no personal income tax or state sales tax (ranking 2nd of all ten states
for overall low taxes), and has elected a number of libertarians to lower
offices. (The one libertarian serving in New Hampshire's legislature recently
switched to the GOP).
New Hampshire is undoubtedly the freest state in New England; however, it also
has some issues that detract from it as being the best state for liberty, as
per the FSP's designs.
New Hampshire does not tax goods and services or wages. However, it does have
four types of income taxes. New Hampshire taxes dividends, interest, general
business revenue, and has a unique tax called the "business enterprise tax."
New Hampshire's comparatively high property taxes are also tied to funding for
public education, a fact that will make them difficult to reduce as it will
bring us into direct conflict with the teacher's unions, which are at their
most powerful in this state since New Hampshire allows for both monopoly
bargaining and forced dues. This may make both education reform and property
tax reductions an almost insurmountable problem in New Hampshire. The short
distances between cities in New England, and the region's overall proximity to
major statist enclaves such as New York City, Boston, and Burlington also make
it likely that Leftist media elements could more easily draw national scrutiny
on us, and Leftist sympathizers could easily bus in supporters for rallies and
demonstrations. The NAACP is one example of a special interest group that has
mastered this tactic. The unions have as well, and such groups are capable of
exerting enormous pressure on local businesses and politicians. In New
Hampshire, their propaganda masters and other reinforcements would be within
easy hailing distance.
New Hampshire has nearly one million voting-age inhabitants and lacks term
limits and the initiative and referendum, meaning that state-wide level reforms
must be routed through the legislature; and ballot issues must be backed and
approved by a larger number of voters. This puts the FSP's potential 20,000 or
so activists at a decided disadvantage. Without the initiative and referendum,
we will be unable to work around the legislature, meaning that our attempts at
reform will lie at the mercy of the major political parties that control state
politics. And without term limits, those major political parties will be able
to continue fronting the same candidates year after year, making it difficult
for us to have a chance at introducing better candidates into the system and
have them actually prove viable. Incumbent politicians would be able to use
their name-recognition and experience to draw greater funding and essentially
eclipse competitors in a number of ways as a result. Thus, New Hampshire's
comparatively large population will weigh against us most heavily here.
New Hampshire has a 400-member legislature and very small districts (the
smallest having 3,089 people), which can be an advantage in that it may offer
more of a chance for more people to participate in the system. However, New
Hampshire's districts are growing with its population. Its largest House
district is currently at 21,559 inhabitants, which is larger than in any other
state, with the exception of Idaho. Legislation has recently been introduced
to reduce district size even further, but its passage is not yet certain.
Also, on the other side of the legislative coin, New Hampshire has the largest
Senate districts of any of our candidate states: 53,000 people, which is far
ahead of the closest runners-up, Delaware and Idaho, both of which have Senate
districts of more than 38,000.
New Hampshire is the fastest growing state in New England, a factor that is
causing problems with regard to providing for education and transportation
funding in addition to expanding its electoral districts. These issues are
likely to begin driving up taxes in the state and renewing the call for a state
income or sales tax. New Hampshire defeated a state income tax attempt in
2002, but the opposition is not likely to vanish into the woodwork. Witness
the example of Tennessee where vehement tax protests virtually besieged the
state capital on several occasions. However, the legislature still adopted tax
increases and more may be on the way. In a related example, Oregon recently
defeated an income tax increase measure. The Portland School district is now
pushing to implement an income tax on Portland residents strictly to fund
education within the Portland MSA. And the powers-that-be in Oregon politics
are already working on another sales tax proposal just a few weeks after
their previous attempt was defeated!
New Hampshire is especially vulnerable to new tax proposals due to the fact
that the state is nursing a rising budget deficit. It was at $19.7 million in
2002 and is projected to rise to $54.6 million in 2003. This will put
additional pressure on the legislature to increase existing taxes or implement
new ones. In politics, there is rarely any sort of true "defeat." There is
only "next time."
Finance also comes to bear in terms of activism when you consider that New
Hampshire ranks at the bottom of our ten states when it comes to expense of
elections. The 2002 tax battle in New Hampshire was a costly one. It is
evident from this that there are strong political forces at work here, and that
they are locked in a determined contest for control of the state's political
system. We are at great risk of being out-spent by the opposition in this
Also, consider the fact that New Hampshire's neighboring states have little
reputation for being liberty-friendly despite the fact that they are FSP
candidate states (with the exception of Massachusetts, of course). Vermont
might have been dismissed by the FSP for statist tendencies (like Rhode Island)
were it not for its "Vermont Carry" provision, which allows anyone to carry a
gun without a concealed carry permit. Maine consistently scores at the bottom
of our measurements, and Massachusetts is infamous for its statist tendencies.
If the FSP moves into New Hampshire, it will most likely draw freedom-lovers
desiring to escape from the oppressive taxes and statist systems in Vermont,
Maine, and Massachusetts (if not New York as well). This may bolster the FSP's
numbers in New Hampshire, but I believe it would also isolate the state. If
what freedom-loving element there is in those states leave them for New
Hampshire, it seems that they would become even more statist. This could then
have the effect of raising a perimeter around New Hampshire, preventing us from
being able to expand this movement in the future as the neighboring states
would likely be more hostile than ever. It might then be said that New
Hampshire could serve as a magnificent contrast to the statist governments of
Vermont, Maine, and Massachusetts, but the fact of the matter is that it
already does! And these states are not changing to conform to it. Why should
we expect them to do so in the future, particularly if there are fewer
liberty-loving people lobbying for change in them?
Some also fear that statists will flee from the increasing cost of living in
nearby locations like Boston due to New Hampshire's growing economy and job
market. After all, the population pools that employers will have available to
draw new hires from in New Hampshire's region of the country are mostly statist
strongholds. If such people do move in, they could effectively dilute the
FSP's activists. Thus, either way you look at it, New Hampshire is situated
very badly in terms of potential allies and enemies.
Personally, I believe that Idaho is the best choice among the three most
populous candidate states: Idaho, Maine, and New Hampshire.
Idaho is at a disadvantage in that it has the largest population of any of our
ten candidate states, the largest House districts, and very large Senate
districts; however, as you can see below, it has various advantages that place
it above New Hampshire in my analysis.
- Has the strongest predicted job growth of all ten states (New Hampshire is
2nd) and is not located as close to major statist enclaves, thus making it less
likely to attract statist immigrants seeking better jobs
- Has the lowest number of voting-age inhabitants of our three largest
states: 924,923 out of 1,293,653 total inhabitants (as compared to 926,224 out
of 1,235,786 total in New Hampshire and 973,685 out of 1,274,923 total in
- Has the 2nd lowest degree of federal dependence in the West (after
- Has an international border and even port access for those who believe
this is a positive (but small and remote enough not to worry others too badly)
- Has the lowest campaign expenditures of the three largest states (ranks
5th overall as compared to 10th for New Hampshire)
- Has the 2nd highest number of votes for conservative and libertarian
presidential candidates (after Wyoming, and as compared to 7th for New
- Ties with Wyoming for 3rd place in terms of gun freedom
- Ranks 4th (under New Hampshire) in terms of low number of native residents
- Ties with New Hampshire for 1st in low number of NEA/AFT members
- 1st in economic freedom (as compared to 4th for New Hampshire)
- Has more privately and locally held land than New Hampshire (in fact,
Idaho's private and locally held land totals an area greater in size than the
entire State of New Hampshire)
- Has some of the most varied terrain and mild temperatures of any of our
candidate states certainly milder than New England (more suitable to a
larger number of folks)
- Has the initiative and referendum (for working around a stubborn
- Has the term limits issue in hot contention as a possible threat to the
GOP-dominated legislature (may be a good issue for us)
- Is a right-to-work state
- Empowers teacher's unions less than New Hampshire (allows monopoly
bargaining but not forced dues)
- Borders lower population, liberty-friendly states where we could easily
expand the movement in the future and build a regional solidarity
- Has a budget deficit but has reduced it substantially from the last fiscal
year: $221 million in 2002 to $75 million (projected) in 2003
Idaho is likely to be acceptable to a larger number of both westerners and
easterners, and together with its mild climate and vibrant economy, is the most
likely (in my opinion) to attract 20,000 or more activists. Adding to this,
and in addition to the initiative and referendum, Idaho also gives us a native
population that, despite its large size, votes heavily in favor of small
government candidates (refer back to the above criteria for details). I also
believe that the low population, liberty-friendly neighboring states are a
significant factor here. Idaho gives us a more realistic chance of building
regional solidarity to oppose the statist power of the growing "mega states" in
Washington DC (CA, IL, NY, etc.
If we need to pick a higher population state, it seems that Idaho gives us more
advantages for dealing with that population, attracting 20,000 activists, and
expanding this movement in the future.
- Has the lowest total and voting-age populations in the country (again,
giving us maximum saturation of activists among the inhabitants)
- Has the initiative and referendum
- Has term limits (which go into effect in 2004)
- Has no individual income tax or business tax at all
- Has some of the lowest property taxes in the country
- 2nd lowest gas tax of our candidate states (0.13 only Alaska is
lower with 0.8)
- Has the lowest federal dependence of all the western states (4th out of
all 10 states)
- Has the 3rd lowest number of government employees (behind North Dakota and
- Has the 3rd smallest House districts of all ten states (no more than 8,230
people), and the 2nd lowest Senate districts (no more than 16,500 people)
- Has the 3rd lowest campaign expenditures of all ten states (after North
Dakota and Vermont) Idaho is 5th, New Hampshire is 10th
- Ranks 1st in high votes for conservative and libertarian presidential
candidates (Idaho is 2nd, New Hampshire is 7th)
- Leads all western states (except for Alaska) in highest per capita income
(ranks 5th of all 10 states) New Hampshire is 2nd, Idaho is 6th of all ten
- Ranks 1st for lack of state-wide land-use planning (Idaho is 6th, New
Hampshire is 7th)
- Ties for 3rd with Idaho for favorable gun laws (New Hampshire is 2nd)
- Ranks 1st for gun ownership rates and gun shows (88% est. gun-ownership
rate Idaho had an est. 76% and New Hampshire had an estimated 36%)
(Wyoming had 50 gun shows in 2000 Idaho had 49, New Hampshire had 17)
- 2nd lowest number of unionized laborers 20,000 (North Dakota is 1st
with 19,000 Idaho has 42,000 to New Hampshire's 60,000)
- Ranks 1st for low numbers of unionized teachers (5,713 to Idaho's 11,132
and New Hampshire's 11,834)
- Ranks 3rd for "low level of city urbanization" on the state data page (1st
of all western states) New Hampshire is 8th, Idaho is 9th
- Ranks 2nd under "livability" on the state data page (New Hampshire is 1st,
Idaho is 8th)
- Ranks 2nd for lowest number of native-born inhabitants (42.5%) New
Hampshire is 3rd, Idaho is 4th
- Ranks 2nd under "economic freedom" (Idaho is 1st, New Hampshire is 4th)
- Ranks 4th in "more private and locally owned land" (Idaho is 5th, New
Hampshire is 9th)
- Has no state budget deficit has a $1.8 billion surplus (very
unlikely there will be any call for new taxes here, in fact, Wyoming is
considering lowering its 4% sales tax)
- Has a large royalty income from mining activities (the source of its $1.8
billion surplus), which helps fund education and various aspects of government,
giving the FSP an opportunity to lower or eliminate other types of taxes (it
also shows fiscal prudence on the part of Wyoming this fund has existed
and grown steadily since 1974)
- Borders several other FSP candidate states where this movement could
spread (Idaho, Montana, and South Dakota)
- Wyoming's population is concentrated in several pockets throughout the
state (such as Cheyenne and Casper), but the population in these areas is not
as high as that in other larger areas like Boise City or Anchorage, or the
Wilmington and Boston MSA's. This means that more of our activists will be
voting and otherwise supporting one another in the same elections, enhancing
their group strength without spreading it too thin or presenting it with too
large and powerful of a target. Our combined numbers would thus be more
manifest on the town, county, and state levels here.
Wyoming is also closer to large population centers than any other western
candidate state. Denver is within 90 minutes of Cheyenne, the state capitol,
and Boulder is even closer. Fort Collins, Colorado is only 45 minutes from
Cheyenne. Salt Lake City is one and a half hours from Wyoming (Park City,
Utah, part of the Salt Lake MSA, is only one hour and 10 minutes from Wyoming).
So Wyoming, while it does not have many inhabitants or "big city" amenities
itself, is closer to both than any other western candidate. The Denver area is
also growing and expanding toward Wyoming, and we will be close enough to reap
the benefits of that economic progress; however, we will also have the state
line between ourselves and Colorado keeping that state's more statist
politics at bay. And despite this growth trend, the immigration rate into
Wyoming is yet low enough that it is not affecting Wyoming politics and
infrastructure to any great degree.
Additionally, we have a chance to help Wyoming diversify its economy, something
that it needs and wants to do. By moving in people and jobs from all over the
country, we can help diversify the state economy and raise the standard of
living to a degree that would be impossible for us to duplicate in Idaho or New
Hampshire where the economies are more robust and the people more affluent.
Not only would this be a very positive thing for the people of Wyoming, but it
would also be an opportunity for us to diminish our "outsider" image and prove
that we are coming to contribute to Wyoming, not just "using" it.
In terms of more "livability" elements, Wyoming's climate and terrain are
greatly varied (it has the third warmest winters of our ten candidate states),
a fact that would make it easier for FSPer's to find someplace to live that is
more in line with their expectations and desires. States like New Hampshire,
Vermont, Maine, Alaska, and North Dakota are well-known for their harsh winter
conditions. New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine are definitely located well
within the snow-belt as well (for those of you who don't enjoy shoveling the
stuff). Parts of Wyoming can have harsh wintertime conditions as well, but
there are also other areas with milder conditions, a choice that we won't have
to the same degree with small states like VT and NH. And again, there are also
urban areas and open countryside, making it possible for a larger number of
FSPer's to find more acceptable and desirable places to live than states where
most of the population is concentrated in one certain part of the state.
Wyoming the Best State for Liberty?
All of these elements working together, and combined with the fact that Wyoming
allows the FSP a chance at the maximum possible saturation of activists to
residents, places Wyoming head-and-shoulders above the other nine candidate
states. Nowhere else do we have this number of benefits and liberty-friendly
elements along with so low of a burden for each FSP activist. Nowhere else
could we have so great an impact so very quickly simply by being there
and voting. And nowhere else will our natural opposition be as weak (the NEA,
and other unions and special interests both in sheer numbers and
political machinery). Wyoming is also located farther away from the statist
media and political elements (including special interest groups) that could
damage us so badly if we were located closer to statist enclaves like Boston
and New York.
Again, consider the notion that the FSP could fall short of 20,000
participants; or even if it gets all 20,000 that they might not be as activist
as necessary for one of the larger states. Even 20,000 libertarians who
confined their activism to voting could make an impact of some sort in any of
these states, or gather together and hold influence over a few towns or
counties, but could they achieve a free state? And when you consider that
8,000 to 10,000 in Wyoming could accomplish as much if not more than 20,000 in
Idaho or New Hampshire, consider what 20,000 in Wyoming could do!
As has been pointed out in our discussions already, a few libertarians forming
a township or gaining a majority influence in a county might be able to enact a
number of reforms; however, the extent of what they could accomplish could be
severely curtailed by the state government. States simply have much more
political power than town and county governments. They also have
representation in the United States Congress. Thus, if it is at all possible,
we should try our best to go somewhere that would allow us a greater voice in
the state government.
Wyoming presents us with a very real chance at achieving a majority
representation in a state legislature and thus a very real chance at "liberty
in our lifetime." Overall, it makes us less reliant upon the various unknown
elements that we face in other states such as: "will we have enough?" or "will
they really move?" or "will they do the work that's necessary to succeed?" Any
of these elements could be fatal to our efforts in the higher population
states. In Wyoming, they hurt us the least because our numbers count for so
much more even before anything else is considered.
Thank you for considering this perspective on what may be the most important
decision that we ever make.
In particular, my thanks go out to Joe Swyers, Keith Carlsen, and
Paul Bonneau for the time and effort they have expended in gathering and
posting much of this data.
thread on the FSP forum for a compilation of various threads relating to
the state decision.
Analysis of Presidential Elections
in the 10 Candidate States
In Tennyson's report Analyzing the Freedom
Orientation of Existing State Populations, he analysed the results of the
2000 presidential election and what it means to the FSP and its members. The
gist of that report is in this table:
Voter Predisposition to Vote for Small-government Candidates
(2000 Presidential Election)
Source: Analyzing the Freedom Orientation of
Existing State Populations
By looking at the 2000 election, we see that Wyoming and
Idaho come out far above all of the other candidate states. However, one
election is just that one election, and cannot be considered the whole
Nine most recent presidential elections
Here is the data from the nine most recent presidential elections: 2000
1968. This data presents a more complete picture of all recent Presidential
|| Bush (R)
|| Dole (R)
|| Bush (R)
| Ford (R)
| Nixon (R)
|| Gore (D)
|| Clinton (D)
|| Clinton (D)
|| Carter (D)
|| Bush (R)
|| Dole (R)
|| Bush (R)
|| Ford (R)
|| Bush (R)
|| Dole (R)
|| Bush (R)
|| Bush (R)
|| Clinton (D)
|| Clinton (D)
|| Gore (D)
|| Clinton (D)
|| Clinton (D)
|| Humphrey (D)
|| Bush (R)
|| Dole (R)
|| Clinton (D)
|| Nixon (R)
|| Bush (R)
|| Dole (R)
|| Bush (R)
|| Gore (D)
|| Clinton (D)
|| Clinton (D)
|| Bush (R)
|| Dole (R)
|| Bush (R)
1 Ross Perot beat George Bush in Maine with 30.44% to 30.39% of the
(Note: I stopped doing research at the 1968 election because in the
1964, 1960, and 1956 elections, most of the candidate states voted for the same
candidate and because the farther back you go, the less representative the data
is to the reality of today. Even in the 1970s and 1980s most of the candidate
states voted for the same candidate. Before 1956, well, most current Americans
were not even alive or at the very least, not even voting back then.)
The Republican presidential candidates from 1968 to 2000 generally sold
themselves as, or were perceived as, or pretended to be, more pro-small
government than the Democratic Party presidential candidates. Generally
this is the case and is clearly evident by the specific campaign literature and
ads of the above presidential candidates.
So we can rank the states by the
number of Republican presidential candidates that won their state elections:
Amount for Republicans from 1968 to 2000
Reagan and Goldwater
What about races where a candidate from a major party ran on downsizing
the federal government?
This has occured twice in somewhat recent times. In 1980 Ronald Reagan (R) ran
for president and in 1964 Barry Goldwater (R) ran for president. Both times,
their major issue was Downsizing DC. Reagan communicated the message better and
won the 1980 election while Goldwater lost his election.
According to Harry Browne and many others, the media even tried to portray
Reagan as more libertarian than he was. Ronald Reagan did not act as a
libertarian once in office, but that is how he ran for his first
(Note: Votes for the LP candidate, Ed Clark, are included with Reagan's,
because Reagan used many of Clark's ideas and this is the best election ever
for an LP candidate.)
1980 Election - Vote for Ronald Reagan
| Entire U.S.
2 Ed Clark got 11.7% of the 66.0% total.
(He got < 3% in all the other FSP candidate states)
Barry Goldwater only had the opportunity to run for office because the
paleo-conservative and the libertarian Republicans were able to take over the
Republican Party primary and hand the nomination to Barry Goldwater. The
national GOP did not even support his bid for president after he was nominated.
All records show that Barry Goldwater was set on dramatically reducing the size
of government and those in change of the GOP wanted nothing to do with him or
1964 Election - Vote for Barry Goldwater
Average of Reagan and Goldwater elections
I computed this table by averaging the "Amount of Republicans from 1968 to
2000" and "Average of Reagan and Goldwater elections" rankings:
Total Average Ranking According to this Report
Now that we have the whole picture, let's compare it to just the 2000
Amazingly, they are very similar, almost eerily similar. Maybe I was wrong.
Maybe, just maybe, the 2000 presidential election really does provide us with a
very good look at the ideology of the candidate states. None of the candidate
states move more than ONE position in the state ranking.
Whatever the conclusion, one thing is for sure: Time and time again, both
Idaho and Wyoming stand out in the above rankings.
Welcome to New Hampshire
Greetings from the White Mountains where the winters are cold and the women are
beautiful. I want to tell members of the Free State Project a bit about our
state to help you make a more informed choice.
Previously I have lived in three statist areas (Rhode Island, Massachusetts and
New York) but moved to New Hampshire in 1999. New Hampshire is a conservative
state, in the good sense of that word (referring to conservative Americans of
the 1950s, not to European conservatives). The credit for this belongs to
William Loeb, publisher of The Union Leader. Loeb turned his paper into
a fierce enemy of the welfare state, and it remains so today. It is the
dominant paper in the state and, while not completely libertarian, manifests a
lot of good common sense.
Crime is very low. In 1999, our total crime rate was the lowest in the nation.
The first winter I was here I was startled to find motorists leaving their
engines idling (key in ignition) while they ran into the donut shop for coffee.
In the small town of Brookline, in which I resided for a while (population
4,000), there was no case of murder in the 20th century. The right to keep and
bear arms is specifically protected by the state constitution.
Using the SATs to measure education (not good, but at least objective), New
Hampshire can claim to be the best in the country. There are states which
score higher, but these states have a much smaller percentage of their
population taking the test (hence only the smarter kids). Among states where
more than 60% of the students take the SAT, New Hampshire regularly gets the
New Hampshire is alive with small-business people. Almost everywhere you look
there are small plazas, or shopping malls, or little alleys, peppered with
small businesses. There is the same hustle and bustle that characterized most
of America in the 1950s. You can pretty much go into any major city in the
state without seeing loiterers. New Hampshire goes year after year with the
lowest unemployment rate in New England. In 2001, our unemployment rate was
43rd nationally. And our personal income per capita ranks 6th ($34,334 in
Americans are fleeing most Northeastern states. The more statist ones are
losing native population and only grow at all due to foreign immigrants. But
New Hampshire is gaining population at a rate of about 18% per decade, and has
more than doubled in size over the past half century. There is no specific
economic or technological event (such as oil vis-à-vis Texas, gold
discoveries vis-à-vis California, or air conditioning vis-à-vis
Florida) to explain this population movement.
The state's motto was coined by General John Stark during the Revolutionary
War. Recruiting a militia unit to march to the aid of Massachusetts (in what
later turned out to be the battle of Bunker Hill), he told his men, "Live free
or die." Stark's unit also played an important role in the battle of Saratoga.
New Hampshire has the highest mountains in the East, and the pine trees make
the air clean and sweet. We are tied with Rhode Island for the second safest
state (1.0 fatalities per 100,000,000 vehicle miles, in 2001). And the people
here have a passionate interest in politics. There are many small newspapers
of different views. There are only about 2,500 citizens per state legislator,
and the latter are paid $100 per year. As a result, anybody can run for the
state House of Representatives (two-year residency requirement). You can win
election in many districts with just 2,000 votes, and in some places 1,000
votes will make you a state rep. You can reach voters by standing in the
center of town or at the town dump and handing out leaflets; or for a small
cost you can do a mailing. Although the state is clearly Republican, any given
election can go either way.
New Hampshire has neither an income tax nor a sales tax. There are some minor
exceptions to this but nothing significant. In 1999, New Hampshire ranked
lowest in general revenue going to the state government on a per capita basis
(Statistical Abstract 2001, p. 279)
There are a great many businesses located right on the Massachusetts border to
attract Bay Staters trying to avoid their state's sales tax. These businesses
employ a lot of people and pay a lot of municipal property tax. So there is an
enormous vested interest against a state sales tax. On those rare occasions
when the idea is floated, it dies a miserable death. A campaign was recently
made for a state income tax (to obey the Supreme Court's very bad educational
funding decision). The Democrat who led the fight was at first repudiated by
his own party. When he was finally given the nomination, he suffered a dismal
defeat. I expect that this was the death knell for the state income tax in New
Hampshire as a practical political issue for the foreseeable future.
Statists from Massachusetts have tried to argue that New Hampshire's low state
taxes are offset by high (municipal) property taxes. This is not true.
Municipalities in New Hampshire have pretty much the same functions as anywhere
in the country: education and police. Tax rates in New Hampshire are a little
higher than in Massachusetts (which is limited by state law to 2.5%). In my
town the rate is 2.8% on assessed valuation. But this is offset by the fact
that land values in New Hampshire are much lower (for a Northeastern state
close to a major job center); thus the amount of property tax the average
person pays is probably lower than in Massachusetts (although I have not done
the statistical work on this point).
If the Free State Project does choose New Hampshire, then the first order of
business should be to start a newspaper in the southern part of the state
(where there is minimal competition with The Union Leader). The
Nashua Telegraph is a juicy target.
By the way, we New Englanders do not drop our "r"s. We do have a broad "A".
And we do not talk the way JFK talked. (He was Irish and made a bad imitation
of a Boston Yankee accent.)
So, if you want to come, we would love to have you.
Towards Victory: A Strategy for Achieving a Libertarian Caucus
By Keith Murphy
The author has directly managed nine campaigns for state legislative office
in Maryland, resulting in six victories. In addition, he has consulted for
numerous local races in Baltimore City. These services have included all
aspects of campaign management, from analyzing district demographics and voter
files to fundraising to production of literature and signs to organizing
volunteers and door-to-door. He is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to put
this experience to work for those who share his political viewpoints, in the
As covered in the companion report Examining
Population and Political Accessibility, New Hampshire offers a unique
combination of election laws, from a low ballot access requirement to
town-meeting local government to an elected Governor's Council that will allow
us to affect the executive branch without electing a governor. More
importantly, New Hampshire is the only state that offers large multi-member
districts. This advantage, combined with fusion, provides a unique opportunity
the rapid election of a Libertarian Caucus in the New Hampshire House of
Representatives. This opportunity is detailed here.
The term "fusion" refers to the practice of a candidate for office running
under multiple parties simultaneously. This allows third-party candidates to
borrow the credibility of a major party, capture the straight-ticket votes of
the major party, and be included on the literature of the major party.
Candidates in New Hampshire and Vermont regularly utilize fusion. The laws of
Maine, Delaware, Idaho, and South Dakota appear to allow fusion, but the
practice is not part of the political culture. As a result, an attempt to use
fusion in those states would likely require at least an attorney general's
The legislature of most states is made up of single-member districts, in which
each citizen has only one representative. South Dakota, North Dakota, and
Idaho all have two-member districts, meaning that citizens each get two votes
and have two representatives. For very large, rural areas sometimes the larger
two-member districts will be broken into two sub-districts, where each citizen
has one vote and one representative. Vermont's largest chamber is composed of
both single-member and two-member districts.
New Hampshire is different. The state constitution provides that towns may not
be divided between districts without their consent. As each district must
provide substantially equal representation to the population, and New Hampshire
varies wildly in density from town to town, the resulting district map is a
hodgepodge. Some districts are single-member, with approximately 3,089
citizens apiece, and some are multi-member, with as many as fourteen
representatives. The majority of districts have between three and six
When fusion and large multi-member districts are present in the same state, as
they are only in New Hampshire, the result is a spectacular opportunity.
How it Works
In the larger multi-member districts, the major parties often cannot find
enough candidates to run for all the seats. After all, being state
representative is a part-time job that only pays $100 per year, so politics is
not the full-time profession in New Hampshire that it is in other states. But
each citizen gets as many votes as there are seats, and if they do not have an
equal number of candidates in their party to vote for as there are seats, those
"extra" votes are wasted. Those votes could be ours. Here's how:
Let's suppose Marjorie Smith is a Libertarian considering a run for the
statehouse in her six-seat district. She goes down to the town hall the day
after the filing deadline, and sees that while six Democrats filed for the
primary, only three Republicans did so. The fact that one of the major parties
did not field as many candidates as there are seats means that this district
qualifies for the fusion strategy.
So Marjorie asks for and is given a voter checklist, and begins her
door-to-door campaign. She spends a few hundred dollars printing up yard signs
and small brochures, and devotes her evenings to walking through the district.
She knocks on each door and talks to each resident for just a moment, saying
"I'm Marjorie Smith, and I'm running for the state house. I won't be on the
primary, but I would appreciate your vote in the general."
But at the homes of registered Independents or Republicans, discernable from
the checklist, she modifies her introduction slightly. She says, "I'm Marjorie
Smith, and I'm running for the statehouse. If you're voting as a Republican in
this year's primary, you're going to get six votes, but there's only three
Republicans on the ballot. I would really appreciate it if you used one of
your extra votes to write my name in." This could even be done outside the
polling place on primary day.
If just ten people, do this, then Marjorie will appear on the ballot in the
general election as a "Libertarian-Republican." In the event that not enough
Democrats or Republicans signed up for the primary, then she would appear as a
"Libertarian-Republican-Democrat." When you are a fusion candidate, you
receive the votes from the straight-ticket voters, and the major parties put
your name on their literature.
This strategy has an astounding success rate. The major parties failed to each
nominate enough people for all the seats in the New Hampshire House 59 times in
the 2002 election. 59 Republicans and Democrats went out and asked voters of
the other party to write their name in on the primary. In the 2003 session
there were 59 Republican-Democrats and Democratic-Republicans sitting in the
New Hampshire House of Representatives.
Just to be clear, every single candidate that used the fusion strategy last
year won election. It worked, every single time. 59 for 59. This is
exactly how we can and will have a Libertarian Caucus in the New Hampshire
House of Representatives after the 2004 elections.
Incidentally, the six-seat district described above is not hypothetical.
District 72, in Strafford County, consists of the towns of Durham, Lee, and
Madbury. Three Republicans and six Democrats filed for the primary. Smith won
election as a Democrat, coming in third. She, and the two who received more
votes than she did, all were elected using fusion. 4,855 voters walked into
the booth, and 4,173 of them gave her one of their votes. The two other fusion
candidates, Wall and Kaen, received 4,533 and 4,226, respectively. The
fourth-ranked winner, who did not use fusion, only received 3,429, 24.35% less
than the leading fusion winner.
New Hampshire's political system offers access unparalleled by any of the other
candidate states. The local elections are mostly nonpartisan, the local
government is administered at the town level instead of the county level,
citizens essentially have line-item veto authority of their town budget at the
polls, the first-in-the-nation presidential primary garners national headlines,
and there is an elected Executive Council with incredible control over state
spending. But most importantly, New Hampshire offers fusion in combination
with large multi-member districts. This strategy has an amazing success rate,
virtually guaranteeing a quick series of victories in races for the state
legislature. New Hampshire is the only state in the nation with this
New Hampshire for Porcupines?
Tim Condon, FSP Member Services Director
Speech at Lancaster, NH FSP Gathering
Before we get started, I just want to ask all of you: Have all of
you been having as much fun looking through this (hold up atlas) as
I have? I mean, I'm lying around reading this thing like a 12-year-old
boy reading a secret copy of Playboy. Checking every little twist
and turn (hold up a state like a Playboy centerfold). Woo WWOOOO!
It's a book of *maps*! We must be crazy!
Okay, okay. First, "What am I doing here?" I'm the guy
who wrote an article for the Free State Project saying that North
Dakota would be the best state to choose for the Freestate (!). THEN
I wrote another article changing my mind, and saying "Mea culpa!
*Wyoming* would be the best state for us to choose! And here I am
giving a speech saying, "No, no, let's choose New Hampshire!"
Actually, I'm here because I got in trouble with all the rest of
the Free State Project leadership. Every one of the rest of them has
been scrupulous and I mean *scrupulous* about being evenhanded and
secretive about what state or states they favor. I mean, *I* don't
even know what states Jason likes...or Elizabeth...or Debra Ricketts...or
any of the rest of the FSP leadership.
Of course, it wasn't an *announced* policy...it was just sort of
agreed upon among everyone else. But...as you may have noticed...I
love to get out there in the middle of the fray, and flail away (and
haven't we been doing some *flailing* lately...). So I couldn't resist
writing about what state *I* thought we should choose. The problem
was, I didn't know all about the previous history where the FSP leadership
had first been accused of being "pro-eastern." And then
later on they got loudly condemned for being pro- *western*. And then
back to the East. And then the West again. Once I found out about
it, it was like watching a ping pong match. East, West, East, West.
And so into that mess I threw my hat. Then Whoa! Here comes the rest
of the leadership at me! "You blew it Condon! You were supposed
to keep your opinions to yourself! We're supposed to be publicly neutral!"
Blah, blah, blah. Of course I'm saying "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!
I'm sorry!" Hell, I didn't know the conspiracy-nuts were going
to say "AHA! That *proves* it, for once and for all! They're
Pro-West!" Oh sheesh. I offered to remove my Wyoming mea culpa
article, but Elizabeth said, "It's too late, you've already let
the cat out of the bag."
And even *that* remark was seized upon: "AHA! That proves that
the whole leadership is pro-Wyoming! Condon let the cat out of the
bag!" Oh man...I felt terrible.
But then I had an idea. Jason and Debra went to the Grand Western
Conference. Why not have me go to the New Hampshire Conference along
with Elizabeth? Not only could I visit, but I could and would talk
about what a great choice New Hampshire would be! Easy for me to do,
too! Because I've been very public that I will move to *any* state
that is chosen. I like them *all*! And not because they are "equal"
in desirability, but because I cannot imagine a better place to live
than the Free State. No matter *where* it turns out to be, it will
be a place where people are left alone to pursue their own happiness.
What, I ask you, is so hard about that? There must be *something*
hard about it...because it seems so...*radical*.
So that's what I'm doing here. I want to talk to you about just how
*great* a choice New Hampshire would be for the Free State! And in
saying that, I thank Rich Tomasso, Michele Dumas, and *all* your activists
who have been so tireless in promoting New Hampshire. Remember, the
*national* libertarian executive committee refused to endorse the
Free State Project after a full presentation by Jason Sorens. You
all, by contrast, have stepped right up to the plate, and I am both
impressed and thankful for what you're doing.
So onward. The first thing I thought of when I discovered I was reeeeally
going to talk about New Hampshire was to re-examine my own thoughts
and prejudices. What I found was that my whole position was based
upon giving overwhelming weight to population. Anyone who has read
my North Dakota and Wyoming articles is aware of that.
Well then, I thought, what better thing to do than tear off my population-centric
blinders, and take *another* look *without* thinking about population
first, last, and always. A very interesting thing happened. I found
myself looking at New Hampshire through new eyes. My new view related
more toward "Niceness," whereas my former view had been
concentrating almost solely on population numbers. "Niceness
versus numbers." I like that. All of a sudden, New Hampshire
starts looking better, and better, and *better*.
There's another reason it was pretty easy to get rid of my population-
centric view. As I realized, really *all* the 10 Free State Project
candidate states are "low population." Including New Hampshire!
Only when we look at New Hampshire in relation to the other 9 candidate
states does it become "high population." But in relation
to the other *40* states in the U.S., it's *low* population. And that
is why I say that *any* of the 10 states will be a good choice, and
I'll move to whichever one is chosen.
So let's take a look at New Hampshire now without an emphasis on
population. How does it stack up then? Quite well, as it turns out,
especially when given the weights of characteristics that *I* think
are important. Let's talk about them now.
The Free State Project "state data lists" are divided into
The "General Data" which includes stuff like population,
land area, geography, crime rates, urbanization information, etc.
We've all pored over all the variables forever, so I don't need to
list them all.
The *second* data list is labeled "Economic and Political
Data." To my mind it includes much more important variables such
as federal, state and local government spending; dependency on federal
monies flowing back into the state, taxes as a percentage of income,
levels of 2nd amendment freedom, etc. Again, we've all seen them all.
In total, there are 24 separate variables, and that doesn't count
the constant drumbeat of debate and further information supplied through
the forums and email lists. No matter which state wins, this is going
to be an extremely well *informed* vote.
Now let's take a look at some of those variables individually. First
the general information list. Other than population, I don't think
most of those variables are very important. Big state? Little state?
Who cares, as long as we're free? Many people argue that a small state
gives freedom-fighters an upper hand, I know; but socialists and other
statists have the same advantages and disadvantages that we do, so
we're all on pretty level ground. Out of these 12 variables, I'll
only mention four that I think are important other than population:
Many people argue that a coastline and/or an international border
are extremely important features. I do not, although I will say that
they're both nice to have. New Hampshire is the only state other than
Maine that has both, other than Alaska, which is just. Too. Far. Away.
So that's a nice feature of New Hampshire, but not dispositive in
Insularity is another piece of data that I think is more important
than most of the other variables. We try to measure this by looking
at how many people living in a state were *born* in the state. If
the percentage is high, they're probably not going to welcome "outsiders"
with open arms. If there's a large non-native population, they'll
probably be more welcoming. New Hampshire comes out nicely on this
measure: It has the third lowest percentage of native-born residents,
after Alaska and Wyoming, so it's definitely in the running.
Another somewhat important variable is the "livability"
rating. New Hampshire comes in first out of all the 10 candidate states.
Crime statistics. *Again* New Hampshire comes in first. Not bad!
In the general data specifics that I regard as most important, New
Hampshire shows as very strong; it's either solidly in the running,
or is first among the 10.
But let's take our leave of the General Data list and go over to
the Economic and Political Data list. To my mind these variables are
far more important. And BOY! does New Hampshire *shine*! Out of 12
variables, it comes in #1 five times (tied for first place in two
of them), #2 three times, and #3 in two more. That means that out
of 12 variables New Hampshire comes in in first, second, or third
place TEN times, or 83.3% of the time! NO other state racks up a score
Let's just stroll through a few of these, often the ones I think
are the most important, and see how New Hampshire scores on each one.
Remember, these are the variables that *I* think are most important,
after we put aside the population and voting population variables:
Federal, state, and local government spending as a percentage
of gross state product: First place.
State and local government spending as a percentage of gross state
product: First place.
Dependence on federal monies; that is, the amount of money that
comes back into the state for every dollar sent to Washington: First
place. (This is a variable that I originally didn't think was that
important; but now I see that it can have a huge effect on Liberty
in our Lifetime.)
State and local taxes as a percentage of income: Second place,
and that only behind Alaska, which is too far *out* there. So *really*
we can call New Hampshire first in this variable also.
New jobs generated. Lots of people argue that this is a crucial
dataset; I'm not so sure, because I believe it's a sword that cuts
both ways. However, it's worth noting that New Hampshire comes in
Gun freedom. Okay. I admit it. I'm a "single issue voter."
I'm not a big hunter, and I don't even shoot that much for fun. I
haven't been to a shooting range for *years*. And yet...I will never
under any circumstances vote for a candidate who doesn't support the
2nd amendment..no matter *how* good they are on other issues. New
Hampshire comes in #2 in this measure, and only behind its next-door
neighbor Vermont. Not bad!
Percentage of state population employed by state and local government.
Well, I don't think that this is one of the more important measures,
because there are going to be Porcupines who work for government;
gotta make a living, and there's got to be *some* government, with
good people working in it. Nevertheless...New Hampshire is #1 along
with Delaware, of all places.
And finally, NEA and AFT membership. Teachers unions are a huge
mainstay of socialist political candidates in America. Along with
other public employee unions, they are one of the most important constituencies
of the Democratic Party. And I am proud to say that I'm married to
a public school teacher in Florida, who is a flaming conservative
Republican...and she refuses to join the teachers union. New Hampshire?
#1 along with Idaho.
There are two other variables that don't show up on the state data
lists, but they're worth mentioning here. One is the incredible energy
and dynamism of the libertarians and Porcupines already in this state.
My hat is off to you all. And the second is the "political angle,"
that is things like fusion voting, small legislative districts, part-time
representatives, etc. As a result, New Hampshire has far more libertarians
who have already been voted into office than any of the other candidate
states. Hats off to you again!
Only in government land control schemes and presidential voting does
New Hampshire fall back in the pack. We'll just have to work on those.
All in all, I must say that New Hampshire has great advantages to
offer a movement seeking Liberty in our Lifetime. As someone wrote
recently on one of the FSP email lists, "What's not to like about
a state that has Live Free or Die as its state motto?" I can
only echo that feeling.
The state motto may be part of what we might call "intangibles."
People "feel" better about one state or another, and often
plan to vote accordingly. I must say, after driving through some of
the state yesterday, it's one of the most beautiful states in the
country, bar none.
Summing up...New Hampshire has got a real shot at it. No question
about that. But it's not a slam-dunk either. Keep that in mind. I
think it's clearly "the choice" on the east coast of the
U.S. In the meantime, Montana and Wyoming are fighting it out in the
west. And that brings me to the last part of my talk. I want to talk
to you all about unity. I want to repeat the mantra here, "united
we stand, divided we fall." I have been preaching that for several
weeks now on the FSP email lists, and I am gratified to see that at
least Ben Irvin has piped down, and even extended an olive branch
by saying that he would be here if he could be, and he wishes he could
In the meantime, it seems like many of the Porcupines are just going
crazy on the email lists and forums. All of us in the leadership have
noted how touchy and explosive people are getting. It's obvious that
people are getting itchy as "The Vote" approaches. Possibly
the most important vote in the history of America.
As I have written, the state chosen as the Free State is going to
be the luckiest state in the history of our country. It is going to
be a beacon. It is going to be a model. I like to refer to it as "America's
little Hong Kong." It will foster an explosion of human potential,
creativity, economic energy, and entrepreneurial activity such as
has never before been seen in the world. It is going to be extraordinary.
But in order for it to happen, we must unite under the banner of
the Free State Project. Not a Free State east. Or a Free State west.
But THE Free State. We have to do it together. Why? Because lots and
lots of people don't think it can be done. Even libertarians, as we
have seen, are pooh-poohing the idea. And if we split our forces now,
if we weaken ourselves by dividing our numbers...we. may. *not* succeed.
For those of you who don't want to move out of the east, I say that's
fine. I say the same thing to those who won't move out of the west.
But listen to me, Porcupines: "There will be a second Free State."
But there will only be a *second* Free State if we are successful
in the *first* Free State! If New Hampshire is chosen, give us five
or six years to start the transformation, to show some results, and
*then* we can look west, to start the second Free State, probably
either in Montana or Wyoming. If a western state is chosen, give us
five or six years to make some changes, win some elections, and show
what can be done, and *then* we can cast out eyes east, and look to
starting up a second, eastern Free State.
But today we must all unite in the Cause to ensure our success in
the *first* Free State. I wasn't able to get Ben Irvin to commit to
moving east if an eastern state wins. More's the pity, even though
I got in his face online about it. And I'm sure there is a core of
eastern state supporters who have opted out of all the western states.
They will not move west no matter what. And that is within the rules;
that's why we allow you to opt out of whatever states you want, as
long as you don't opt out of them all. All I can say, to those who
won't move east, and those who won't move west is, at least keep on
supporting the Free State Project. At least don't fracture and divide
us at this crucial juncture. At least be supportive of those pioneers
who *are* moving to the Free State. For if we do all of us---then
our movement for freedom, human dignity, and Liberty in our Lifetimes
can spread everywhere...from the mountains...to the prairies...to
the oceans...and from sea to shining sea.
Thank you all.
New Hampshire Report
by Michelle Dumas
(See also New Hampshire Report #1 and Live Free before You Die: Join Us in
N.H by the New Hampshire Libertarian Party.)
My husband (Jim) and I (Michelle), both grew up in Southern Maine, in a town
bordering New Hampshire. We are both in our mid thirties, have been married 15
years and have one 12-year-old daughter. About 11 years ago we moved to a New
Hampshire border town, Somersworth, in the Seacoast region, and have lived here
since. We have both had libertarian leanings for many years, but it was only
several years ago when we began actively re-educating ourselves (undoing the
damage of what we now understand was a terrible public education) that we
joined the LP. We are slowly becoming more politically active but are already
frustrated by what seem like insurmountable challenges. FSP offers the most
practical, action-focused plan we have seen. The promise of the FSP, "Liberty
in Your Lifetime" is one we are committed to and while we would certainly
follow 20,000 liberty-oriented people wherever they go, we feel that New
Hampshire is certainly in the running for the top few states that should be
considered by the FSP.
New Hampshire Constitution
The New Hampshire Constitution is the second oldest state constitution and
predates the U.S. Constitution by five years. It is unique in that it was the
first constitution to use the term Bill of Rights, and includes in its listed
39 rights, the right to revolution, promised in no other American constitution.
New Hampshire has the largest legislative body and the weakest governorship of
all the states. New Hampshire's governor shares power with five members of an
executive council. Summarizing the philosophical beliefs on which the NH
Constitution is founded, is that government is the servant, not the master, of
the people who create it, a strong foundation for the "Live Free or Die"
tradition and state motto.
People, Politics, and Culture for Freedom
The median age of New Hampshire citizens' is 37.1, with 25% of the
population under 18 years of age and 12% age 65 and older. There are 474,606
households, with an average size of 2.53; of those, 323,651 are family
households, with an average size of 3.03. As of April 1, 2000, there were
547,024 total housing units. Profiles of 234 incorporated cities and towns may
be found here.
2001 population statistics by town can be viewed here.
There are currently 26 Libertarians who hold public office in New
Hampshire. LPNH is quite active and there are 17 Libertarians running for
public office in 2002; in 2000, 70 Libertarian candidates ran for office. The
voter registration is approximately 30% Republican, 30% Democrat, and 40%
Independent. Currently, the legislature is about 60% Republican and 40%
Democrat. Until just recently, when we were beat by Alaska, New Hampshire had
the highest number of Libertarian Party members per capita of all the states.
The people of New Hampshire are notoriously independent and tax averse.
While it is true that we have had an influx of people moving in state from
Massachusetts, and bringing their liberal politics with them, for the most part
(although difficult to measure), most long-term NH residents are resentful of
this; this resentment could actually work in the favor of the FSP. It is
reasonable to predict that the GOP will win the race for Governor this year,
perhaps reflecting some of this dissatisfaction and a desire to return to more
It is interesting to note that the LPNH's 2002 candidate for governor, John Babiarz, is attracting a fair amount of
favorable press and that the people have been quite receptive to his ideas. In
2000, he experienced some difficulty in getting the press to notice him and in
being included in debates. He is running an aggressive campaign to win in 2002.
This year, the press has been quite favorable, he is being invited and welcomed
in the debates and forums, and the public response has been more than
favorable. For example, the Keene-Sentinel
profiled Babiarz on the front page of the Saturday edition (highest
circulation day of the week) on 8/17/02. Other LP candidates in 2002 are
running for US Senate, US Rep, State Senate, State Rep, Executive Council, and
Of concern is the recent House redistricting. Unable to overcome partisan
politics, the legislature failed to agree on a redistricting plan. Thus, the
task was taken over by the Supreme Court. The plan sets the boundaries for 400
representatives in 88 new house districts. Unfortunately, under this plan, 215
representatives (54%) will serve 6 communities or more. Prior to this,
districts were much smaller and every citizen was virtually assured of
personally knowing a representative or at the very least, having easy access to
voice concerns to the representative in their town. This means that the cost of
campaigning will increase, it will be much more difficult to reach individual
voters, and the voters themselves will not have as easy access to their
representative in the House. This issue does negate one advantage of New
Hampshire to the FSP (small districts easily won by liberty-minded candidates),
although the fact that the NH legislature is the largest in the nation remains
Geography and Recreation
New Hampshire is bounded on the north by Quebec province in Canada, on the
east by Maine and the Atlantic Ocean, on the south by Massachusetts, and on the
west by Vermont. Offering both coastal access and a Canadian border, New
Hampshire is one of the strongest states being considered by the FSP in regards
to its geographic location. It is undeniable that isolation could play a large
part on the steps that the federal government may take to suppress the free
state. The importance of both coastal and international access cannot be
understated. If secession were to become an issue, coastal and international
borders would be critical.
New Hampshire is a small state, about 180 miles long and 50 miles wide,
although the extreme width is 93 miles. The coastal area is approximately 18
miles. While New Hampshire clearly does not offer the "wide open spaces" of the
west, it is reasonable to expect that a successful FSP effort in New Hampshire
would "spill over" to its neighboring state, Maine, or perhaps Vermont, giving
us the "space to grow" that so many advocate. In the early stages of the FSP,
the small geographical size of NH may also prove to be an advantage,
facilitating the ability of FSP members to easily meet and work together. It
should also be pointed out that most New Hampshire towns are small, rural
towns, no different than any other state being considered. The difference is,
and this is a potentially important one, that while the towns are similar to
those in many other considered states, we do not have vast open spaces of
**federally claimed** land between them. I think there is a lot of
misperception about crowding among those who have never visited the New England
states. While I agree that there are areas of New Hampshire that are somewhat
crowded, for most regions, this is simply not the case. For that reason, I will
go into some detail describing the various regions of New Hampshire.
With its seacoast areas and beaches, 1,300 lakes and ponds (covering
115,000 acres - the largest, Lake Winnipesaukee, is 22 miles x 8 miles), 40,000
miles of rivers or streams, and the White Mountains, New Hampshire offers
virtually every possible recreational activity within very scenic surroundings.
Boston, Massachusetts is only a short commuting distance for those free staters
desiring access to a major metropolitan area (for example, it is only 55 miles
from my home in the Seacoast Region) or a major international airport.
For those who enjoy wildlife or hunting, New Hampshire is home to more than
500 species of vertebrate animals, including black bear, coyote, bobcats,
moose, white-tailed deer, and beaver.
The Seacoast Region
New Hampshire's 18-mile coast offers history, culture, and beauty. Private
and public beaches can be found in Hampton and Rye. Ferry rides to the Isles of Shoals,
deep sea fishing, and whale watching cruises are popular with both tourists and
locals. Many lobsterman operate off the New Hampshire coast. Live lobsters are
available virtually everywhere and we usually feast on them at least once each
summer. My husband enjoys going out deep sea fishing with his friend who owns a
charter fishing boat, helping out with the customers in return for filling out
freezer with all the haddock, cod, cusk, tuna, and flounder we could want. The
seaport city of Portsmouth is home
to many shops, restaurants, taverns, and art galleries in the downtown area.
Portsmouth offers Prescott Park, cobblestone sidewalks, and a picturesque
harbor. My daughter and I enjoy going to Prescott Park for the outdoor, live
theater productions put on each weekend throughout the summer. I've never been,
but local bands often play in the park during lunch hour and on the weeknights.
Settled in 1693, the nearby town of
Dover was New Hampshire's first permanent settlement and Durham is home to
the University of New Hampshire. The town
of Seabrook is best known for its nuclear power plant. A great deal of
the surrounding inland area (including our town of Somersworth) is farmland and
countryside. As with the rest of the state, many old buildings still stand as
meetinghouses, covered bridges, and town halls. I once saw a family tree that
traced my direct ancestors back to the Dover area in the mid 17th century.
There is a lot of history here.
Dartmouth Lake Sunapee Region
The western border of New Hampshire is the Connecticut River and neighboring
Vermont. This part of the state is best described as hilly, lush, and green,
with many old barns, curving back country roads, and covered bridges. The
region around Lake Sunapee offers
golf, swimming, canoeing, fishing, and cross-country skiing. The lake is a
favorite for fisherman of trout, bass, salmon, and pickerel. Hiking and biking
trails up Mount Sunapee offer three-season recreation and the region is a
favorite among many skiers and snowboarders in the winter. We have personally
never done much more than drive through this region, but it is gorgeous.
The center of many towns, like
Newport and Claremont, revolves
around mills and churches. In Cornish you can find four covered bridges,
including the longest wooden covered bridge in the United States, connecting
New Hampshire with Vermont. Warner is
the home of Mount Kearsarge, which rises 2,937 feet above sea level. The
Blackwater River in Webster is known for its white water rapids.
The town of Hanover is home to
Dartmouth College and New London is home to Colby Sawyer College.
North Woods Region
The North Woods of New Hampshire is the region that may be of the greatest
interest to those Free Staters desiring space and solitude. You can drive for
miles and not see another person in this region that is best known for its
snowmobiling trails, deep forests, and moose sightings. Besides snowmobiling,
this is a haven for those people interested in camping, hiking, boating,
fishing, or hunting. It is quiet, serene, and secluded. It is home to towns
like Dixville, where the first votes in the Presidential Election are cast and
Colebrook, where hunting and fishing
are primary recreational activities. The town of Pittsburg, is a favorite among
snowmobilers and is also
known for frequent moose sightings. My sister-in-law spent a weekend in
Pittsburg last fall and said she could hardly believe all the moose.
Beginning where the White Mountain Region ends, the North Woods borders the
Canadian Province of Quebec to the north, Vermont to the West, and Maine to the
East. The Connecticut River begins in Pittsburg and breaks off into a group of
lakes known as the Connecticut Lakes.
Fishing is popular, with fish ranging from rainbow trout to salmon. Lake
Umbagog on the Maine border is popular for smallmouth bass angling.
The Lakes Region is most popular in the summertime, but offers something in
every season, from skiing and ice fishing in the winter, to fall foliage
viewing and antique shopping in autumn.
Towns in the region include places like Laconia, where the annual "motorcycle weekend" is held, an event
that attracts 300,000+ motorcyclists from across the country. The town of Holderness and Squam
Lake was made famous by the movie On Golden Pond. Plymouth State College is located in this
Of the 273 lakes and ponds in this area, Winnipesaukee, covering 72 square
miles and up to 213 feet deep, is the largest and most popular. Boating, scuba
diving, lake cruises, scenic rides, swimming, and antiquing are popular in this
region. Surrounded by mountains, other lakes in the area include Newfound Lake,
Winnesquam, Lake Chocorua and Ossipee Lake. This is a beautiful region and our
family enjoys taking leisurely drives around the towns or boating on the lakes,
especially in the summer and autumn. Truly, there is nothing so spectacular as
a boat ride around Winnipesaukee in autumn. The colors of the foliage on the
mountains surrounding the lake are incredible.
Merrimack Valley Region
The Merrimack Valley is named for the river that runs through it and is a
popular recreation area for kayakers, boaters, and fishermen.
Manchester, the state's largest
city, was at one time a mill town. Today, the mills have been refurbished to
accommodate high tech industries, insurance companies, shops, and restaurants.
Concord, the State Capital, also
sits on the Merrimack River as do farm towns like Litchfield and the
state's second largest city, Nashua.
The Merrimack Valley boasts New Hampshire
International Speedway in Loudon. There are several lakes in the area for
swimmers and picnickers and covered bridges span smaller rivers in this region,
like the Henniker Bridge at New England
College. Farmers Markets, antique shops, and apple orchards are all easily
sighted on a drive through this region. The town of Milford is well known for its wide
variety of antique and craft shops. Not unlike most of the state, there are
many places in the region to pick your own berries in the summer, and pumpkins
or apples in the fall.
The Southwestern corner of New Hampshire, the Monadnock Region, is known for
its hilly terrain, fertile farmland, antique barns, and two-hundred-year-old
town halls, churches, and meetinghouses. Writers like Samuel Clemens, Nathaniel
Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Louisa May Alcott spent time in this
region. It's the setting for Thornton Wilder's play Our Town. It's where the
Yankee Magazine and Old Farmer's Almanac are published.
Fresh produce and maple syrup is available from roadside farm stands. Mount
Monadnock is the second most climbed mountain in the world and there are
multiple covered bridges in the region. The Connecticut River passes through
the region and is a favorite fishing spot. Towns in the region include Keene, Hinsdale, and Chesterfield.
White Mountain Region
The White Mountains are home to New Hampshire's "Old Man of the Mountain"
and hundreds of other natural attractions. This is the favorite region for
hikers with more than 48 mountains reaching heights of more than 4,000 feet.
The Appalachian Trail, beginning in Maine and ending in Georgia, winds through
this region, through Crawford Notch, up the summit of Mount Washington and on to Pinkham Notch.
Scenic drives and the landscape are breathtaking in this region. Our family
owns a (very) rustic mountain cabin in the tiny town of Gilead, Maine,
bordering Gorham, New Hampshire, and spend many long weekends enjoying the
scenery, attractions, snowmobiling, and skiing of this region. The entire
White Mountain Region has some of the finest ski terrain in the east for both
downhill and cross-country skiers. I can also personally attest to the abundant
wildlife in the region. There are bear scratches on our cabin from the black
bears trying to get in (luckily, never when I have been there, although Jim
promises that they aren't aggressive to humans unless threatened!), the coyote
in the distance have convinced me, more than once, to use the port-a-potty
rather than venture to the outhouse in the night, and we've seen many
white-tailed deer, moose, fox, and hare while on our way to or at our camp.
A popular trip in the region is a scenic byway known as the Kancamagus
Highway, a 34-mile road that runs from
Lincoln at the Pemigewasset River to Conway. Along the Kancamagus,
many people stop at Lower Falls to climb on the rocks and slide on the natural
water slide, created by slippery rocks and a deep basin of water that serves as
a pool. There are numerous waterfalls along this road and others throughout the
White Mountain region. Bear Notch Road, off the Kancamagus, is a shortcut to
the town of Bartlett for those who do not wish to travel the entire byway. I
will never forget coming around a corner on Bear Notch Road fifteen years ago
and being surprised by a large black bear, sunning himself in the middle of the
road. Bear Notch Road is closed to cars in the winter, but is a favorite spot
for racing snowmobiles up and down the road.
Mount Washington is the highest mountain in the northeast at 6,288 feet. It
is known for having the world's worst weather, with winds at times of well over
100 miles per hour during the winter. The Auto Road up the
mountain is the oldest man-made tourist attraction in America.
The Old Man of the Mountain, one of New Hampshire's most famous landmarks,
can be found in the town of
Franconia. The town of
Bath boasts the "oldest general store in the country" and has two covered
houses New Hampshire's oldest covered bridge still in use.
Like most New England states, New Hampshire is known for it's highly
changeable climate where the weather can be warm and sunny one minute and cold
and snowy the next ("Don't like the weather - just wait a minute!"). Each of
the four seasons vary greatly in their daily temperatures and weather patterns.
Climate variations are also due to distance from the ocean, mountains, lakes or
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New Hampshire has a long history of shunning taxes. Proposal of taxes
basically meant death to the campaign of whatever politician dared suggest
them. To this day we have no sales tax and no income tax although to
compensate, property taxes are relatively high in some areas. Retailers on the
NH borders do really well from people crossing the border to avoid the high
sales tax rates in the surrounding states. Unfortunately, we have had an
ongoing problem in the state regarding funding of public education. Funding of
schools on a local level by local property taxes (as had been done for as long
as I can remember) was ruled unconstitutional. Currently this has been
"resolved" by a statewide property tax and redistribution of funds, resulting
in huge controversy between "donor" towns and "recipient" towns. There is a
great deal of animosity over this issue, and even talk of secession by some of
the donor communities. Although there has been a great deal of discussion
about income and sales taxes, given the adversity of NH citizens to taxes, this
does not seem likely. Whatever the ultimate "solution", there is likely to be a
great deal of resentment and controversy surrounding it, a factor that could be
an advantage to the Free State Project if we loudly promote our tax-free
solutions to education.
I have a report titled "Where Taxes Are Lowest" published by Liberty
Magazine; I just received my latest copy of the magazine (September 2002) and
see that the report has been reprinted in it. Published in 2002, it ranks
states using data from 2000. New Hampshire won the #1 spot of all 50 states
when ranked as a percentage of gross personal income. New Hampshire is lowest
at 4.54% followed by South Dakota (5.05%), Texas (5.09%), and Tennessee
(5.52%). However, when taxes are ranked per capita, New Hampshire ranks #4
($1,372), beat by the three previously mentioned states. This is a rather
simplified summary of a detailed report, but ultimately, the author concludes
that while he had rated New Hampshire as the champ for having the lowest taxes
of all states in his last report, its increase in per capita taxes caused this
rating to slip, to be beat out by South Dakota.
The bottom line: while New Hamphire is no longer the winner for lowest
taxes, taxes are still much lower when compared to most states. Coupled with
its long history of rejecting taxes, combined with low federal, state, and
local spending as a percentage of gross state product (the best of all states
under consideration), and low dependency rating on federal dollars (the best of
all states considered), the Free State Project would be entering the state
closest to its economic ideals and in which many of its citizens will be
There was some talk on the FSP e-mail discussion list about New Hampshire
being the only state to let all defendants expressly advise the jury of the
right to acquit if they object to the merit, intent, or constitutionality of a
law. Unfortunately, I researched this, and it is not true. Of course, juries in
all 50 states have the right of jury nullification; the advantage would have
been if New Hampshire expressly allowed defendants to advise juries of this.
However, a bill for jury nullification did pass the NH House in 2000, 189-138,
but was later killed in the Senate. Thus, while it was never enacted, there is
some public awareness and legislative support surrounding this right.
Our gun laws are probably average; definitely not as favorable as Vermont,
but nowhere near as restrictive as Massachusetts. The New Hampshire
Constitution, Article 2-a states: All persons have the right to keep and bear
arms in defense of themselves, their families, their property and the state.
My basic understanding is that anyone can carry an unconcealed weapon (open
carry) and we have a "shall issue" regulation for concealed weapons permits.
Basically, application is made to the mayor or chief of police and they are
required to issue the permit within 14 days to "upstanding citizens" who state
a valid purpose (hunting, target shooting, and self defense are cited as valid
reasons). The only glitch we ran into when Jim applied for his permit is that
our chief of police "required" him to submit to fingerprinting. He claimed that
a whole list of other NH towns require this, but Jim called dozens of towns and
this is simply not true. Although he was issued the permit, Jim (obviously)
wants his fingerprints back on principle. Although he has met with the town
manager and chief of police several times, this is still not resolved.
In New Hampshire, those families wishing to homeschool must notify the
district superintendent of their plans and provide written information about
any correspondence courses, curriculum, and educational materials to be used.
Parents are required to keep a log of reading materials and a portfolio of each
child's work for the first two years. However, this portfolio is the property
of the parent and the superintendent cannot require that it be submitted for
review. Parents are also required to have their child's progress evaluated once
each year by a certified teacher, through a national achievement test or state
student assessment test, or any other measurement tool agreed on in advance
between the parent and the superintendent. I am not familiar enough with the
laws in other states to judge whether these regulations are more or less
restrictive than others.
I know that there are many members of the FSP who are interested in
homesteading and agriculture. Basically, the soil in New Hampshire is suitable
for most fruits, flowers, and vegetables. The forests are made up of pine,
spruce, and hardwood trees. New Hampshire is also famous for products made from
the sap of the maple tree. These figures are ten years old (1992), but should
still be fairly accurate. There are 3,100 commercial farms. Of 5.7 million
acres, approximately 6.7% is currently used as farmland; 35.1% of this is
cropland, 56.7% is woodland, 2.5% is pastureland, and 5.6% is categorized as
other farmland. New Hampshire's agricultural industry is over $675 million. The
state exports $20 million annually in food and agricultural products to
- Ornamental Horticulture: (One of the fastest growing segments)
- Specialty & Processed Food Products: (ice cream, yogurt, jams,
baked goods, etc.) $125 million
- Dairy: (40+ million gallons of milk are produced each year on
190 dairy farms) $54 million
- Horses: $30 million
- Hay & Forage Crops: $27 million
- Vegetables: $20 million
- Livestock: $16.5 million
- Apples: (1 million bushels of apples annually) $9.5 million
- Christmas Trees & Evergreen Products: $6 million
- Berries and Other Fruit: $5 million
- Maple and Honey: $3.5 million
While not comparable to real farming, for those interested in gardening as a
hobby, my experiences may be of interest. While I am uncertain about other
parts of the state, here on the Seacoast I can usually start my raised-bed
kitchen-garden with cold-hardy veggies sometime in mid-April (I've had success
with peas, lettuce, and radishes as early as mid-March) and rotate crops
through the season, winding down in late September or early October. While
early or late frosts are sometimes a problem, I just keep an eye on the weather
and cover everything with plastic sheets when I am concerned. This even
protected my garden from a freak 6-inch snowstorm in mid-May this past year,
the latest in history.
Property and Real Estate
This is difficult to summarize because, as it does everywhere, the price of
real estate really varies depending on so many factors. However, some real
estate summaries from 2001 can be found here. To get a better
idea of what is currently available and prices, you can search here. Here, in the Seacoast region, property
values are appreciating quickly, but I am uncertain if this holds true for the
rest of the state.
New Hampshire's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for July 2002 was 4.2
percent, down 0.3 percentage points from the June rate. Nationally, the
seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for July 2002 was 5.9 percent.
In July of 2002, non-farm employment of NH citizens was broken down as:
- Total All Industries: 626,900
- Total Private Employment: 551,200
- Mining: 600
- Construction: 28,900
- Manufacturing: 99,300
- Durable Goods: 72,600
- Nondurable Goods: 26,700
- Transportation & Public Utilities: 20,400
- Trade: 169,400
- Wholesale Trade: 33,200
- Retail Trade: 136,200
- Finance, Insurance, & Real Estate: 34,400
- Services: 198,200
- Government: 75,700
Many people, particularly here on the Seacoast, commute to Boston for work.
Although he could easily find work in New Hampshire, for personal reasons, Jim
works in Maine. The downfall of working in the neighboring states is that your
income is subject to income taxes in that state. In recent years, in part based
on employment outlook combined with low taxes (I would guess), Manchester and
Nashua have been named "best place to live" by Money Magazine. Portsmouth also
ranked highly. New Hampshire supposedly has the highest concentration of
high-tech workers in the nation.
The two fastest growing jobs in the state, computer support specialists and
systems analysts, are expected to add 4,000 jobs by 2008. Occupations in the
professional, paraprofessional, and technical are expected to grow the fastest.
Desktop publishing, database administrators, home health aides, instructional
coordinators, physician assistants, computer engineers, medical assistants, and
medical records technicians are the other fasted growing occupations. More than
105,000 new jobs are expected to be created in New Hampshire between 1998 and
2008; more than half of these will be in service industries. Employment in
Belknap County is expected to grow faster than other NH counties. All of this
and more, is summarized in a brochure
A detailed report on NH projected employment by industry and occupation to
2008 can be found
Overall, based on my review of the job outlook data, I believe that New
Hampshire could (relatively easily) absorb and support 20,000 free staters
moving in over a period of several years.
Small Business Friendliness
A report prepared by the Small Business
Survival Committee indexes the states on how the state and local
governments treat small businesses and entrepreneurs. Many factors were
considered, including personal and corporate income tax, capital gains tax,
state and local property taxes, crime rates, number of full-time government
employees, and many more. Of the states, New Hampshire ranked #6, beat only by
South Dakota, Nevada, Wyoming, Texas, and Florida. This ranking could be of
primary importance to those free staters who choose to or need to start their
own businesses as an alternative to finding new employment.
Low Crime Rate
New Hampshire boasts one of the lowest crime rates of all the states under
consideration. Beyond stating this, the best I can do is describe our own
experience. Even though we live in a relatively high population area, there is
hardly anyone in out community who would worry about leaving doors unlocked
while away for a few hours or even leaving keys in vehicles overnight.
Basically, our neighbors keep an eye on our property and we keep an eye on
Universities and Colleges
For free-stater-students or parents who have children considering higher
education, the choice of colleges and universities in New Hampshire may be of
Besides the University System of New
Hampshire and the Regional Community
Technical College System New Hampshire offers:
Antioch New England Graduate
Colby Sawyer College, New London
Daniel Webster College, Nashua
Dartmouth College, Hanover
Franklin Pierce College, Rindge
Franklin Pierce Law Center, Concord
Hesser College, New Hampshire
Lebanon College, Lebanon
Magdalen College, Warner
McIntosh College, Dover
New England College, Henniker
New Hampshire Institute of Art, Manchester
Notre Dame College, Manchester
Rivier College, Nashua
Saint Anselm College, Manchester
Southern New Hampshire University,
Manchester (formerly NH College)
Thomas More College of Liberal
White Pines College,
The statistics and objective data are well presented in the FSP state data. Thus,
I have tried to focus
this report on more subjective factors that may make New Hampshire an
attractive state for the success of the Free State Project; I have also tried
to be realistic and present some of the potential pitfalls. Yes, I am biased;
there is nothing more that we would like to see than 20,000+ liberty-minded
people move to our beloved state to secure a free society. However, the success
of FSP is more important to us, and if another state is judged to be more
suitable for the achievement of our goals, we are behind that decision 100%.
Ultimately though, combining its high ranking in most of the objective data
categories, its geographic advantages of offering both a seacoast and an
international border, its possibilities for expansion into two neighboring
states also under consideration by FSP (Maine and Vermont), its native culture
historically known for orientation toward liberty, and its viability as a state
where the immediate quality of life is likely to be most comfortable for free
staters, we believe that New Hampshire should be considered one of the top
contenders in the final decision.
Major sources for this report included:
August 20, 2002
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those
of the Free State Project, its Officers, or Directors.
New Hampshire Report
by Amy Day
(See also New Hampshire Report #2 and the
New Hampshire Libertarians' Welcome
to the Granite State Committee.)
My parents moved to New Hampshire from Massachusetts when I was 10, so I've
lived here all my adult life (I'm 27). Coincidentally 2 other families in our
Massachusetts neighborhood also moved to New Hampshire around the same time,
but my family and these 2 others moved to northern New Hampshire. Currently
Massachusetts immigrants are moving into the southern region, while continuing
to work in Massachusetts. My husband currently works in Massachusetts because
he can get paid more working there than in New Hampshire. Thus we pay
Massachusetts income tax, plus the high New Hampshire property tax so we get
the worst of both worlds. But the reason people are doing this is that housing
in the Boston area is so high as to make the high prices in New Hampshire
affordable. The housing market has been pushed out of the reach of many low
income New Hampshire residents. They are exasperated by town zoning and
building rules that are keeping the number of new houses down and keeping the
cost of new housing high.
New Hampshire is a beautiful state. Our 18 miles of seacoast are enough
room for beaches (public and private), harbors, and the Portsmouth Naval
Shipyard, though the PNS has been claimed by Maine and the powers that be
have said it is Maine's. This is unsurprising given the tax issue. If it were
in New Hampshire, the New Hampshire residents who work there wouldn't be paying
the income tax Maine currently collects.
A couple of hours drive from the seacoast and you are in the White
Mountains. They are not as high as the Rocky Mountains but they are beautiful.
You can camp, hike, and hunt in them, and in the winter you can ski them. We
have Mount Washington, the
highest peak in the northeast.
The climate in NH includes a lot more precipitation than many western states.
Average precipitation is around 40 inches, depending on the area. In the
southern part of the state the average temperature in July is 70 and in Jan it
is 22. In the northern part of the state the summer temperature is a few
degrees less, and the winter temperature is 7-12 degrees less.
In the northern counties, temperature is not the only thing that is lower.
The income of the average person is less. In Coos County, the northernmost
county, the HUD Median Income Estimate for 2001 was $39,200. In Hillsborough
County, one of the southern counties that border the state of Massachusetts,
the HUD Median Income Estimate for 2001 was $58,000. The national HUD Median
Income Estimate for 2001 was $52,500.
Our state has been pushing recently for the government to buy land and
conservation easements on land. Currently Senator Gregg is working on
getting the state $8 million in federal money to purchase a conservation
easement on 171,500 acres, this would be 1/3 of the total cost. My town of
Exeter has been purchasing conservation easements on land in town. Part of the
money comes from the state and part from the town budget. This is happening
The government in our state has different ways to control development. On
the state level there is current use taxing. An
undeveloped piece of land is taxed at a lesser rate. When it is developed, one
must pay a tax of 10% of the value. My own town has an impact fee. This is a fee one
must pay to the town when you get the permit to build a housing unit. The
amount is based on the impact a new residence will have on the town-provided
Towns also have restrictive zoning. They make lot requirements of 1 or more
acres. With the limited product and high demand, prices are very high. Current
prices in my town are: for a 1.25-2 acre building lot, it is from
$125,000-$150,000. They also are very restrictive on building multi-unit
houses. An example would be an 11-acre piece of land we looked at. Due to
zoning restrictions we would only be allowed to build one single-family house
on the land (definitely no multi-units), and we could not subdivide it. It is
almost impossible to find a piece of land that allows multi-unit homes.
Nationwide in 2001, 25% of housing permits were for multi-unit housing. In New
Hampshire in 2001, only 9% of permits were for multi-unit housing. This has
helped cause apartment rents to increase. In two southern counties,
median rents for a 2 bedroom apartment (not including utilities) are $880 in
Rockingham county and $860 in Hillsborough county.
In the city of Manchester, rental property is inspected every 3 years. You
are required to give the inspector access to the entire house. This process is
fraught with bribery and corruption. We had bought a building less than a year
before its next inspection date. The inspection showed thousands of dollars in
repairs were needed. Granted the building was old and we had planned on doing
some updating, but most of the things that needed repairs had been that way for
years. There were two long-term tenants, and they told us these problems had
existed since they started renting there, and there had been an inspector in
that building 3 years ago and he didn't cite the previous owner. In talking to
other landlords and tenants in the city I have come to believe that if you get
the right inspector and you give him some money, he won't find anything wrong
with your apartment. In another building, a tenant had taken batteries out of a
smoke detector, so since it wasn't working we were not grandfathered in, so we
had to meet the new standard that there had to be built in smoke detectors.
That was a few years ago, I believe that all must meet the new standard now.
There is an education-funding
problem going on in our state right now. In 1997 the New Hampshire Supreme
Court declared that the traditional method of using local property taxes to pay
for schooling was unconstitutional. Not that it was unconstitutional for the
towns to steal from its property owners. But that it was the state's
responsibility to provide an adequate education. They based this decision on
article 83 of our constitution which says "Knowledge and learning, generally
diffused through a community, being essential to the preservation of a free
government; and spreading the opportunities and advantages of education through
the various parts of the country, being highly conducive to promote this end;
it shall be the duty of the legislators and magistrates, in all future periods
of this government, to cherish the interest of literature and the sciences, and
all seminaries and public schools, to encourage private and public
institutions, rewards, and immunities for the promotion of agriculture, arts,
sciences, commerce, trades, manufactures, and natural history of the country;
to countenance and inculcate the principles of humanity and general
benevolence, public and private charity, industry and economy, honesty and
punctuality, sincerity, sobriety, and all social affections, and generous
sentiments, among the people. . . ." Now did you get the part where it says
the state has to pay for education? I didn't. The New Hampshire Supreme Court
has learned from the federal Supreme Court how to twist the constitution to say
what they want it to say.
This decision by the court has caused educational funding unrest that
continues to today. The state instituted a statewide property tax, but the
court doesn't like it, so the state needs to come up with another way. I
believe the goal of the courts is to force the legislature (which is cowering
before the power of the court) to enact an income tax.
The current method of a statewide property tax consists of the state
imposing a $5.80 per $1000 of assessed value. This is collected by the state
and distributed to the towns based on the number of students. The result is
that some towns send in more than they receive and other towns receive more
than they pay in (just like all government wealth distribution methods). So
the state has been divided into donor towns and receiver towns. The different
towns have banded together to enhance their voice in Concord. The donor towns
to abolish this mess, and the receiver towns, to make sure they keep getting
money. And as usually happens, the receiver towns out number the donor towns,
and since this is a democracy the majority rules.
Another point in all these shenanigans is that the poorer towns were
complaining that they needed more money to provide a better education. But when
they received the extra money, they used it to offset their education spending
thus reducing the amount the town needed to raise, allowing the town to spend
more of its own money on other things, and not increasing their education
spending. This education funding mess has the whole state in turmoil and I
believe it doesn't bode well for our freedoms.
August 6, 2002
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those
of the Free State Project, its Officers, or Directors.
Leveraging the Spirit of the West in New Hampshire
by James Maynard
The people of the western states have a great spirit. The wide open lands
seem to inspire a "Don't tread on me" fervor in many people west of the
Mississippi, and east of California. Many western people tend to think of the
east as being "back east", as if they moved from the Atlantic coast themselves
just a while before landing in Wyoming, Montana or Idaho.
The western spirit has kept those states from adopting any wide-spread planning
and zoning laws, or other regulations which stifles the freedom to ride the
lands, reveling in a "don't fence me in" attitude which is greatly admired by
many in the east.
As the Free State Project chooses our state, we realize that no state is
perfect, and every state needs work to bring greater freedom and liberty to the
people of our chosen state.
But we need to look at what battles we will have to fight in each state, and
what kind of access we will have as we work together in the trenches of the
political machinery of our chosen state.
If any continental western state is chosen, we will need to repeal either a
sales or income tax. That would mean making changes at the state level, which
would require FSP members to either gain control or influence in the state
legislature and governor's office. We would be able to do it eventually, but
there would be many fights and elections to get through before we have the
power to change such a deeply entrenched state law. Meanwhile, the porcupines
would be fought tooth and nail by big government activists (which exist in
every state), who would give everyone they could the impression that we were
out to hurt the elderly, children and the disabled. They would have an issue
almost custom made for big government activists. And since it would take us
years to get enough people or influence in the statehouse to repeal such a
broad-based tax, the big-government activists would get to strike first.
But New Hampshire is the last state in the continental US without a general
sales or income tax. The issues we would need to work on early in the Granite
State would be eliminating planning and zoning (P&Z) laws, and reducing
home schooling regulations. Exactly what the "spirit of the west" is so good at
keeping at bay.
Most New Hampshire P&Z laws are regulated at the local level, where we can
have the greatest influence in the shortest amount of time. In New Hampshire
cities, people are allowed to sit in at committee and City Council meetings,
and can speak and suggest ideas which are taken seriously just by
raising their hands. Also, New Hampshire offers elections in the towns, and
warrant articles in the cities every spring. With only 30 votes in Keene, for
instance, one can place an issue on the ballot, which the whole city then votes
New Hampshire towns still use the old fashioned New England town meeting, where
the citizens themselves work on what the town should be doing or not doing, and
on details of the town's budget for the next year. The citizen participation
and influence at these meetings is the closest thing to true democracy which
exists in the country today.
Governor Benson, in a June meeting with Free State Project members, told the
group that increasing school choice will be one of the next things he begins
work on. For people wishing to decrease home-schooling regulations in the
state, they will find an ally in New Hampshire's Governor's office.
Every time anyone tries to make a change in the political system, there will be
those who will oppose them; and the changes the FSP proposes will be no
exception, no matter what state we choose. But the potential supporter base for
supporting P&Z laws and home schooling regulations will be much smaller
than those people who will be scared by the thought of their state government
losing a significant portion of its revenue. Unfriendly media will get much
more mileage out of "Libertarian activists wish to slice government revenue by
30%" than they will with "Libertarian activists wish to end zoning laws".
And given the easy access for citizens in towns compared to states, we will be
the ones who get to "strike first" in our P&Z fight.
And in the other issue which needs to be changed first at the state level in
New Hampshire (home schooling regulations), we will have the most powerful
person in the state on our side.
The Libertarian Party of New Hampshire has done an admirable job at helping to
keep a general sales or income tax from taking root in New Hampshire. But part
of the cost of that has been a slow creeping of zoning laws and home schooling
regulations, although 10% of New Hampshire municipalities have no such laws.
This is where New Hampshire needs people who believe in the "spirit of the
With people who have lived with the "spirit of the west", who believe in the
phrase "Don't fence me in", the current P&Z laws in New Hampshire cities
and towns do not have long left to exist on the books. With help from above and
below, home schooling regulations in the state will quickly be squeezed in the
No matter which state we choose, we will have a fight ahead of us. But working
for greater liberty in the areas of zoning and home schooling will prove easier
than a fight against a broad-based tax, and will allow us an instant say in how
changes are made, without having to win office first. The issues which
big-government forces will have to use against will also prove much weaker in
the case of New Hampshire than in a western state.
New Hampshire Where the fight is easier, faster and leaves our opponents
the least effective tools to use against us. In New Hampshire, we can leverage
the western strengths to tremendous advantage. But we need the "spirit of the
west" to help us win.
Examining Population and Political Accessibility
By Keith Murphy
The author has directly managed nine campaigns for state legislative
office in Maryland, resulting in six victories. In addition, he has consulted
for numerous local races in Baltimore City. These services have included all
aspects of campaign management, from analyzing district demographics and voter
files to fundraising to production of literature and signs to organizing
volunteers and door-to-door. He is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to put
this experience to work for those who share his political viewpoints, in the
Boosters of small population states, such as Wyoming, Montana, Vermont, and
Delaware, will be happy to tell you that the population factor is crucial to
the success of the project. It is a cornerstone of the FSP.
But why? Why does population matter?
The typical answer is that the more people are in a given state, the more
difficult it will be to reach a required saturation point, a tipping point, in
order to achieve the political power it will take to put the state on a course
to liberty. Thus,
small-state boosters claim, 20,000 activists in New Hampshire are
equivalent to only 7,500 in Wyoming.
This is an extremely simplistic way of measuring the states against each other,
and could lead to an uninformed vote. It assumes that all other things are
equal. But the states are not equal, and there are real and distinct
differences between them. For example, isn't it logical that population is
only a concern to the degree that the native population leans against us?
Would the FSP have a better chance in a state with low taxes and a
live-and-let-live attitude, with a population of a million, or in a state of
600,000 with high taxes and onerous infringements on personal liberty? While
there inarguably is not yet a fully libertarian state, some are clearly closer
to the ideal than others. The closer a state comes to that ideal, the more
irrelevant the population factor becomes. This is why members spend so much
time weighing and arguing about tax rates, gun laws, drug arrests, and other
rough indicators of a state's "libertarian-ness."
But when considering the impact of population on the state choice, there may be
another factor that's even more important than political culture. From the FSP
The Free State Project is a plan in which 20,000 or more liberty-oriented
people will move to a single state of the U.S., where they may work within the
political system to reduce the size and scope of government.
Even more than population, this whole project is dependent on the
accessibility of the political system of the chosen state! Even
if the given state has a small population, and leans libertarian politically,
if the doors to power are closed to us by stifling election laws, all of our
efforts will have been in vain. Many of these election laws are directly
related to the population issue.
- Each state has different district sizes for their legislature.
- Some states allow multi-member districts, and some do not.
- Some have fusion, and some do not.
- Some have nonpartisan local races, and some do not.
- The ballot access requirement varies widely from one state to the next.
- From a logistical viewpoint, campaigns are more difficult in some states
than others, due to geographic features.
- The form of local government is very different from state to state.
- Finally, one state offers an executive council.
A brief overview of these features is provided here.
Population is only relevant to the state-choice issue for the effect that it
has upon our ability to influence the political reality of the chosen state.
But each state has very different systems, producing varying districts of very
different sizes. District size for each office is one of the key components of
understanding the relevance of population, as it provides some measure of the
work to be done to begin to take power from the existing political structure.
Even if you ignore differences in political culture, the overall population
number is only relevant for those select offices that have the entire state as
its district. For example, if you assume that Wyoming and New Hampshire are
equally libertarian, then it should be easier to win the governorship of
Wyoming than that of New Hampshire, as the number of votes required is
substantially less. The same would apply to other statewide offices, such as
state's attorney, treasurer, etc. Given the tremendous undertaking of running
a credible campaign for these statewide offices, in any of the ten states, it
is inevitable that our initial efforts will be concentrated on offices with
many less constituents, such as state legislative office and local offices.
The district size is (per the US Supreme Court's disastrous decision in Baker
v. Carr) decided by dividing the state's population by the number of seats.
This gives the "ideal" district size. Every ten years, following the census,
state legislators pore over voter demographic data, and (being careful to
include their major campaign contributors in their district and making it as
hard as possible for opposing parties) redraw the district lines to account for
shifts in population. Each district must be within 5% of the ideal district
size, a measure the Supreme Court apparently found under the sofa cushions. As
noted above, in general it is true that the smaller the district size the
easier it is to win, as the fewer voters that must be courted to achieve
victory. The smallest house districts in the nation can be found in New
Hampshire, beginning at 2,987 citizens. Vermont comes in next, with 4,059
citizens for its single-member districts. Wyoming can boast the smallest
uniform districts, with an ideal district population of 8,230.
State Legislative Districts
Idaho, North Dakota, and South Dakota all have two-member districts. Vermont
has a mix of single-member and two-member districts. New Hampshire is a
peculiar case, because of a state constitutional provision that prohibits
splitting towns without their permission. This results in multi-member
districts of varying size, as detailed below.
Multi-member districts may be "at large", meaning that all members represent
all constituents, or they may be broken into sub-districts. Multi-member
districts that are broken into sub-districts (A, B, etc.) usually cover large
geographic areas, the given rationale usually being that legislators should
live reasonably close to their constituents. Sub-districts usually operate
just like single-member districts, in that constituents go into the booth and
cast just one vote for that office. In comparison, in at-large districts
voters go into the booth and cast as many votes as there are seats. Idaho,
North Dakota, and South Dakota all have two-member house districts, some of
which are broken into sub-districts and some of which are not. In New England,
the unit of political power is not counties but towns, and districts are drawn
in such as way so as to avoid splitting towns wherever possible. The New
Hampshire Constitution actually forbids splitting towns without their
concurrence, resulting in a wide variety of district sizes. Where Vermont's
house consists entirely of one-member and two-member districts, New Hampshire's
house districts each have between one and fourteen seats, with the majority of
districts having between three and five seats. New Hampshire and Vermont have
no sub-districts, as do some of the larger western states.
The practical effect of at-large multi-member districts is that voters get as
many votes as there are seats. The major parties sometimes have difficulty
finding candidates to run for all the seats in a large district, and it is easy
to court the "extra" votes of a constituent. If a Republican has ten votes,
and only has eight Republicans to vote for, he is much more likely to give one
or both of his extra votes to a Libertarian than a Democrat. Of course, the
same is true of a Democrat. Party loyalists are much more likely to vote for
a third-party member than they are for "that other party." For example, in
2002 the Wyoming LP ran Marie Brossman for Secretary of State against an
incumbent Republican. The Democrats did not field a candidate. It was a
brilliant move that paid off handsomely, as Ms. Brossman received 17% of the
vote and gave the LP major party status in Wyoming until 2006.
Those states with at-large multi-member districts offer an electoral advantage
over those that don't. New Hampshire with its wide variety of district
sizes, offering constituents up to 14 votes each is particularly
attractive in this category.
Fusion allows a candidate to run for office under two or more parties
simultaneously. In the nineteenth century, fusion was a regular occurrence
throughout the nation, but it was such an opportunity for third parties that
the major parties worked in concert to ban it in most states. Of the ten
candidate states, it is only possible (with slight variances in application) in
Vermont, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, South Dakota, and New Hampshire. Of these six
states, it would appear that fusion only regularly occurs in Vermont and New
Hampshire. The other states could require an attorney general's opinion and a
court case to establish a modern precedent, and the first successful use of
fusion could trigger a belated effort by the major two parties to ban it.
When a third-party candidate runs under a major party banner, several important
things are accomplished. First, the major party includes the nominee on all
campaign literature, effectively paying to get the third-party's word out.
Second, the nominee benefits from straight-ticket voters in the general
election, that distinct subset of voters who don't even bother to look at the
candidates' names. Third, the very act of cross-nominating winners gives the
Fusion is always an electoral advantage, but when combined with multi-member
districts, especially large multi-member districts, it produces real
opportunity. This is explored in greater detail in the companion report
A Strategy for Achieving a Libertarian Caucus.
Nonpartisan Local Races
Delaware, Vermont, and New Hampshire have predominantly nonpartisan local
races. This is an important advantage, because most members who desire to run
for office will be cutting their teeth in the local races first. This is an
important way to build both name recognition for future political ambition and,
in a bigger sense, to build the political machine that elects party members
year in and year out. When the race is nonpartisan, the candidates cannot rely
on a party label. Instead, the focus is on the candidate's message and
arguments. This can only benefit those of us who wish to run as Libertarians.
To clarify, there may be other candidate states that possess this advantage,
but the supporters of those states have not brought that information forward.
To the best of the author's knowledge, only
Delaware, Vermont, and New Hampshire offer nonpartisan local
Some members have advocated that we subvert one or both of the existing major
party structures in the free state, while others have said that a new party or
the Libertarian Party is the way to go. If you find yourself in the former
group, then there is no advantage or disadvantage to the various states in this
regard. If you find yourself in the latter group, then this has a tremendous
impact on which state is the best choice.
- Alaska For major party status, a political party must either
have nominated a candidate for governor that received at least 3% of the vote
in the last general election or have registered voters equal to at least 3% of
the votes cast for governor in the last general election. There are no
provisions allowing nomination by petition.
- Delaware For major party status, a political party must
register at least 5% of the total number of voters in the state. A minor party
may nominate by convention as long as it has registered at least .05% of the
voters in the state. Alternatively, anyone may be placed on the ballot upon
submitting a number of petitions equal to 1% of the voters to be served by the
- Idaho Any party may qualify for major party status in one of
- Having three or more candidates for state or national office at a general
- A candidate receiving at least 3% of the votes cast for state or national
- Submitting a number of petitions equal to 2% of the number of votes cast
Anyone may file as an Independent by submitting the relevant number of
petitions: 1,000 for statewide office, 500 for congress, 50 for the state
legislature, or 5 for county office.
- Maine "Major parties" are defined as the two parties polling
the highest vote totals for governor in the most recent general election.
Third parties are blatantly shut out on this score. However, minor parties are
still qualified to take part in a primary if they hold municipal caucuses in at
least one municipality in each county of the state, if a state convention is
held, if the party's candidate for governor or President polled at least 5% of
the total in either of the last two general elections, AND if it was on the
ballot for either of the last two general elections.
- New Hampshire For major party status, a political party must
nominate a candidate for governor or United States Senator that obtains at
least 4% of the vote in a general election. A political organization (minor
party) may still have its name on the ballot for the general election by
submitting a number of petitions equal to 3% of the votes cast in the last
general election. Anyone can be nominated by submitting 3,000 petitions for
governor, 750 for state senator, or 150 for state representative.
- North Dakota A political organization may not nominate
anyone for statewide or legislative office unless it:
- Holds a caucus meeting in every voting precinct throughout the state by
May 15th immediately following a general election,
- Had a candidate for president or governor receive at least 5% of the vote
at the most recent general election, OR
- Submits 7,000 petitions to the secretary of state.
Independents must be nominated at the primary election, with a different ballot
clearly marked "No-Party." The number of people nominated for each office
through the no-party process is twice the number of seats. In other words, as
there can only be one governor, no more than two "no-party" candidates can be
- South Dakota For major party status, a party must submit a
number of petitions equal to 2.5% of the votes cast for governor in the last
preceding election. A minor party may have its designation on the general
ballot by submitting 250 petitions for statewide or federal office, or 5
petitions for legislative or county office. Independents may be placed on the
general ballot by submitting a number of petitions equal to 1% of the total
votes for the office of governor in the relevant district or subdivision in the
most recent general election.
- Vermont For major party status, a party must have received
at least 5% of the vote for any statewide office in the most recent general
election. Minor parties may not nominate someone for statewide office unless
town committees are set up in at least ten different towns. Anyone may be
nominated to be on the general election ballot by submitting 250 signatures for
statewide offices, 100 for state senator, or 50 for state representative.
- Wyoming For major party status, a political party must
nominate a candidate for statewide office that obtains at least 10% of the vote
in a general election. To nominate via petitions, the party must submit a
number of petitions equal to 2% of the votes cast in the relevant jurisdiction
for the office of United States Representative in the preceding general
The area of the candidate states, and their districts, is a factor that
deserves serious consideration. Some states have a larger rural population,
while the residents of some states prefer living in denser areas, mostly due to
climate issues. There are two primary reasons why the area of the state should
be a concern. First, the logistical difficulty of operating a campaign is
directly proportional to the distance that must be covered. Campaigns in
denser districts may be done on foot, whereas larger districts require hours to
canvass in a vehicle. Second, larger areas make influencing the political
process more difficult. There is much to be done in this regard, such as
testifying before senate and house committees and visiting legislators to
discuss issues. This is much easier when the state house is within easy
Geographic Rural/Urban Characteristics
||The area of the states in square miles.|
|| The area divided by the number of state house districts. This is merely
an average; it is important to remember that urban districts are quite small
while rural districts are much larger.|
|| The percentage of the population of the state that lives in urban areas,
as defined by the United States Census Bureau. |
|| The distance from the state capital to the population center of a given
state. This measure represents spatially where the capital is in regards to
the population of the state. (See here and here).|
In the western states and in Delaware, the primary form of local government is
based on county jurisdictions. Within each county there may be incorporated
areas that may enact their own ordinances, as long as they are in compliance
with the laws of the state and county. The end result of this system is to
have all citizens under a tiered system, with those living in municipalities
suffering from an additional level.
The three New England states are different. While they have counties, they
exist mostly as lines on the map. Most of the functions of local government
are performed at the town level, and the majority of the land area in the
states is incorporated. In general, courts are operated at the county level,
but all other functions, from roads to police to fire service to schools, are
administered at the town level. Issues are discussed at town meetings, giving
each citizen an opportunity to speak his mind.
This form of government has several important advantages. First, it is the
closest to the people, assuring that everyone in each town knows their elected
town officials personally. Remember, most power rests in the hands of town
officials instead of county officials administering vastly larger areas.
Second, it provides citizens amazing control over the town budget. In New
Hampshire, fifteen signatures is enough to place a budget item, called a
"warrant," on the ballot for referendum. If you don't want that new high
school, get fifteen signatures and vote it down. If you don't want the town to
get a new garbage truck because you think trash collection should be
privatized, get fifteen signatures and put it on the ballot. Many towns have
less than 1,000 people, and some have less than 100. Hart's Location, NH, only
has 37 residents. Each town is in control of all of its spending.
This brings me to the final advantage of the town-centered form of local
government. There are some areas of the New England states that are not
incorporated. These are very lightly populated, and residents contract with
the nearest town to provide those services that they do not provide for
themselves, such as schools. There is no constitutional provision in New
Hampshire requiring public schools, but there is a constitutional prohibition
against the state issuing unfunded mandates to the towns. Thus, there is no
reason why a small group of FSP members could not simply move to an
unincorporated area and incorporate as a new town. For this town, they could
write their own charter, prohibiting public schools, taxes, zoning, and
anything else they wish. They could even decide to not have a police
For that matter, there are even some low-population towns that a few dozen FSP
members would quickly overwhelm from sheer numbers. The current ordinances
could be repealed and the charter altered. The degree to which this
opportunity exists varies throughout the New England states. Vermont's
constitution does not protect towns from unfunded state mandates, while Maine's
constitution requires public schools to be maintained. New Hampshire offers
As noted earlier, population as a factor in the state choice is
only relevant because of the implications it holds for our ability to influence
the process and work within the political system. For elections, the
population of the entire state only matters when the entire state is your
district; that is to say, for statewide offices. There are very few statewide
offices. In most states only the governor, attorney general, and treasurer
come under the heading of "statewide," and these are the only offices for which
the state's population is an issue. As we will likely begin in local and state
legislative races, it is the size of those districts that should most concern
New Hampshire possesses an advantage in this regard: the ability to influence
the executive branch without winning a statewide office. The governor works
with an elected "Executive Council," which must approve any expenditure over
$5,000. They help the governor craft the budget, approve the placement of
roads, and otherwise direct the day-to-day operation of government. The
council has five members, elected from districts of roughly 247,157 persons
each. These districts are, then, each almost exactly half the population of
Wyoming, and would allow us to influence the executive branch earlier than is
possible in any other state.
It is extremely simplistic to measure the candidate states against each other
simply on the basis of overall population, as doing so assumes all other things
are equal, which is assuredly not the case. There are two primary complicating
factors that must be taken into consideration when weighing population. The
first is the degree to which the native population leans with or against us.
It is far better for the project to be in a state of a million people who lean
libertarian than in a state of a half-million that leans socialist.
The second factor, which is even more important, is the accessibility of the
given state's political system. There are many measures of accessibility, some
of which can be quantified and some of which cannot. They include such
measures as district size, whether the state has multi-member districts or
fusion, or both, ballot access, and other unique features.
Considering population as a factor through these lenses provides a much more
accurate picture of our chances of actually effecting change in the candidate
states. One state, in particular, leaps to the top of the pile, both in terms
of the libertarian leanings of the native population and, most importantly, in
openness of the political system. On every measure here reviewed, New
Hampshire comes out at, or near, the top. Of critical importance is the fact
that New Hampshire offers that which no other state can: fusion combined with
large multi-member districts. This crucial advantage is explored further in a
companion report, Towards
Victory: A Strategy for Achieving a Libertarian Caucus.
Escape to New Hampshire Getaway Week
Hosted by the Welcome to the Granite State Committee formed to promote New
Hampshire as the best choice for the Free State Project, Escape to New
Hampshire will be a getaway week of fun, relaxation, information sharing, and
new friendships. All are welcome whether you plan to join us for a single day,
a weekend, or the entire week.
The event will be held at Rogers
Resort and Campground in Lancaster, NH from June 21-29. Motel rooms,
cabins, and camping sites are filling fast, so we encourage you to make your
reservations TODAY. To do so, call 603-788- 4885 or email email@example.com. Make
certain to tell them you are with the Free State Project group.
updates on the event, you may visit
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Escape_Announce/. We look forward to meeting
June 21, 2003 (Saturday)
CHECK-IN & ORIENTATION DAY
Spend the afternoon getting oriented to Roger's Resort and Campground. Set
up your campsite, enjoy the swimming pools, hot tub, and water slide, as well
as the many other sports and activities offered on the Roger's grounds. Meet
and get to know your future FSP neighbors. If you have time, consider visiting
Sugar Museum within easy walking distance from the resort.
The "Escape Welcome Cabin" hosted by George Reich will open at 3:00 pm.
Make sure to stop in for a chat and to pick up information about the Escape
program, nearby attractions, and the state.
At 8 p.m. join us for the Granite State Welcome and Porcupine Kick-Off
Campfire. Put faces to email personas, meet the NH delegates, and get to know
your future Free State neighbors and allies.
June 22, 2003 (Sunday)
LIVE FREE HERE - THE NEW HAMPSHIRE ADVANTAGE CONVENTION
Join us for a full day (10 a.m. 5 p.m.) of stimulating presentations by
speakers including Elizabeth McKinstry and Tim Condon, members of the FSP
board, LPNH gubernatorial candidate and chair John Babiarz, LP Presidential
candidates Gary Nolan and Michael Badnarik, Diane Gilbert from the New
Hampshire Center for Constitutional Studies, among others, and a panel Q&A
session including Don Gorman, James Maynard, and others answering all your
questions about the NH advantage and political environment.
Vendor and information tables will give you the choice to learn about the
many freedom-movement groups in New Hampshire, New Hampshire real estate,
employment opportunities, business climate, and more. Lunch will be on your
Then join us again at 7 p.m. for the WttGSC-sponsored BBQ and let the
Welcome to the Granite State Committee members serve you traditional BBQ fare
while you get to know fellow FSP porcupines better.
June 23, 2003 (Monday)
TOUR THE WHITE MOUNTAINS & GREAT NORTH WOODS REGIONS
A group will be traveling to Lincoln (a short 30-minute drive) to spend the
Franconia Notch State Park. If you wish to join us, please meet outside of
the office store at 8:45 a.m. This is a not-to-be-missed trip during which
you'll get a tour the Flume Gorge, a natural gorge extending 800 feet at the
base of Mount Liberty, and view the Basin, a beautiful waterfall with a 20-foot
granite pothole at its base formed 15,000 years ago.
While much of the park is available to tour for free, there is a nominal
user fee charged for parts ($8.00 for adults and $5.00 for children 6-12. Under
6 are free). If we have time we'll take the 80-passenger aerial tramway to the
4,200-foot summit of Cannon Mountain (additional fees).
Do you prefer to spend the day on your own? Consider taking a several-hour
sightseeing trip traveling the 34.5 mile Kancamagus
Highway from Lincoln to Conway, considered one of the most scenic routes
through the White Mountains. Once at the end, consider taking the "long" way
back to camp through North Conway into Glen to visit Heritage NH depicting 350 years of New
Hampshire's history through 25 state-of-the-art movie sets built in a 120,000
square foot museum.
To see more of the Great North Woods, head north on Route 3 to Colebrook or
Pittsburg to see the wilderness areas, returning on Route 26 through Dixville
Notch, home of the famous Balsams Grand Resort, and, from Errol, Route 16
south. This route will take you near the Umbagog National
Wildlife Refuge and through beautiful Thirteen Mile Woods and "Moose Alley"
an area known for its many moose sightings. Or in Lancaster, turn south on
Route 3 to Weeks State Park.
From the tower you can enjoy spectacular views of
the White Mountains and Vermont.
Tuesday, June 24
GETTING TO KNOW NEW HAMPSHIRE
We've intentionally left this day free. Enjoy the time to get to know your
future FSP neighbors, spend time with the NH delegates, or use the day to
explore and discover the true New Hampshire.
Perhaps you would like to visit the
Seacoast region. Although a 2+ hour drive each way, this is well worth the
trip, especially for history buffs! Once in the region, take Route 1A from
Hampton Beach to
Portsmouth for gorgeous views of sandy beaches. A stop in Hampton Beach or
Portsmouth is a must. Walk the
long sandy beach in Hampton, while in Portsmouth you can take a carriage
ride or a walking tour to get to know the colonial city. Have lunch overlooking
the water while you decide how to
spend the afternoon: on the water on a whale watch, lighthouse or island
tour. Consider visiting Fort Constitution in New Castle where the first
aggressive act of the Revolution took place. Ashore, visit Strawbery Banke, one of America's
oldest settlements, or the colonial homes that line Portsmouth's streets. In
Exeter, you'll want to spend some time visiting the American Independence Museum and
tour the Ladd-Gilman house where an original of the Declaration of Independence
was found several years ago. Displays feature two drafts of the U.S.
Constitution along with original letters, documents, and portraits of the
This evening (or any evening), consider taking a scenic moose and wildlife
tour with Pemi Valley
Excursions. This is a 2.5 to 3 hour journey through the White Mountains in
an air conditioned bus in search of the gentle giant of the North Country. The
nightly excursions feature a guided tour of the local area, a 1/2 hour video
called Moose Close-Up, and interesting historical sites along the way,
including a visit to the Old Man of the Mountains, the symbol of New Hampshire.
Please contact Pemi Valley Excursion for charges. The tour departs at 7:15 pm,
so you will want to plan on leaving Rogers by 6:15.
Wednesday, June 25
Mount Washington and the Lost River Gorge Excursions
On this day, a group will be visiting Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves in
North Woodstock, about a 45-minute drive. Set in Kinsman Notch, between Mt.
Moosilauke and Mt. Kinsman, Lost River Gorge is accessible via wooden walkways,
bridges, and ladders. A self-guided tour about ? of a mile long, this will be
an afternoon of adventure, fun, and beauty enjoyed by both children and adults.
Sturdy footwear and outdoor clothing recommended. Park fees are $9.50 for
adults and $6.50 ages 4-12. If joining us, please meet outside the office store
at 8:45 am.
Spending the day on your own? Consider visiting Mt. Washington and
traveling to the observatory via the auto road or cog railway. It can be quite
cold at the top, even at the end of June, so be sure to dress appropriately.
You can find more information at
http://www.mountwashington.org/ and http://www.mountwashington.com/ .
Thursday, June 26
NEW HAMPSHIRE SUN, FUN & EXPLORATION
Another day of fun and exploration! Hang out with FSP friends at Rogers'
pool or take a scenic tour through the region of New Hampshire that interests
Perhaps you will choose to take Route 16 to visit the NH Lakes Region. There's a gorgeous
scenic route along Routes 153, 125, and local roads around Milton and Wakefield; or you can take Route 28
east to Wolfeboro, "America's first
summer resort." The town is ideal for walking, browsing through shops and
visiting the local historical society. If you're lucky, you'll get to see the
m/s Mount Washington cruise ship come
into port; and maybe go on board for a tour of Lake Winnipesaukee, the state's
From Wolfeboro, Route 109 takes you to Moultonborough and Castle in the Clouds, with its
stunning views of the region. Then continue on to Center Sandwich or head west
to Center Harbor, Meredith and Laconia, all fascinating lakefront towns. The Squam Lakes area and its Squam
Lakes Natural Science Center, as well as the Winnisquam and Newfound Lakes
areas each deserve a special trip. Squam Lake is also well-known by movie buffs
as the location of the film On Golden Pond.
Friday, June 27
MEET NEW HAMPSHIRE GOVERNOR BENSON
On this day, a tour of the Historic New Hampshire State House and meeting
with New Hampshire Governor Benson have been arranged for Free State Project
members joining us for the Escape to New Hampshire.
The meeting for FSP members with Governor Benson will take place in the
Governor's office at 1:00 pm. FSP members will have the opportunity to speak
briefly with the Governor and gain a better sense of the welcome FSP will
receive from the very highest levels of New Hampshire state government.
Led by a visitor's center guide and John Babiarz, LPNH Chair, the
tour of the historic State House will occur just prior to the meeting. The
New Hampshire State House is the oldest in the nation in which the legislature
still occupies its original chambers.
Although most Escape to NH events have been designed for casual attire, we
must ask that those planning to attend the State House tour and meeting with
the Governor plan to wear proper business attire (i.e., no shorts, sports coats
for men, skirt or slacks for women). Concord is a 2+ hour drive from Lancaster,
so you will need to plan on leaving Rogers' in the morning. Welcome to the
Granite State Committee members will be happy to help you plan your route or
try to arrange for carpooling.
Saturday, June 28
NEW HAMPSHIRE FREEDOM NETWORKING DAY
Join us at the Rogers' Function Hall and spend the afternoon talking with
representatives and members of liberty-oriented groups from around New
Hampshire. Begin to form coalitions and partnerships with the individuals and
groups who will support the FSP in New Hampshire and talk directly with
freedom-minded New Hampshire residents to learn about the NH advantage. This
will be a full day of food, fun, information, literature, and networking.
In the evening, join us at the special "Hospitality House" in Jefferson, NH
for a BBQ, closing party, and fireworks hosted by Welcome to the Granite State
committee member, John Barnes.
To make reservations
More information is available