2016 and the One-State Strategy: A What-If Scenario

In presidential elections, third parties spread themselves thin in order to conduct a national campaign. What if, instead, a third party focused as much as possible on one small state? What if the third party won that state?

In 2012, Green Party candidate Jill Stein spent a bit less than $1 million (numbers are from FEC data up to October 17th). Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson spent over $2M. The Constitution Party’s Virgil Goode spent close to $200K. By comparison the Romney campaign spent roughly $400M, and that doesn’t count Super PACs and party spending. We’ve seen estimates that the two major party campaigns spent close to $5 billion.

Spreading Johnson’s $2M or Stein’s $1M over 50 states means spending an average of $20-40,000 per state. Even without competition that’s not enough money to make a dent. In a sea of spending from the major parties it’s awfully hard to break through.

Now consider the One-State Strategy. The third party makes a decision early to focus on one small state. It focuses all of its money on that one state. Instead of spreading $1M over 50 states you spend $1M in just one state. Not only that, but the candidate is able to spend much more time in the one state, thus saving money on travel expenses. This idea works even better if the candidate is a resident of the chosen state.

Which state should a third party choose? For the Libertarian Party New Hampshire might be the natural choice. It is home to the Free State Project and has four electoral votes. The Greens could choose Rhode Island, also with four electoral votes.

In the 2012 presidential election, there were approximately 700,000 votes in New Hampshire, and 430,000 votes in Rhode Island. The LP could win NH with 250,000 votes. The Greens could win RI with less than 200,000.

There is a substantial difference between the two states. New Hampshire is a swing state, while Rhode Island is considered solidly in the Democratic column. It is not clear how this difference would impact the strategy.

On the one hand, it is harder for a third-party candidate to get their message heard in a swing state because of all the major party spending. It may also drive up the cost of advertising and reduce available ad inventory. On the other hand, most of the major party spending is focused on negative advertising, attacking each other. This leaves independent voters desperate for a clean choice. It can also be hoped that the Libertarian candidate would draw from both parties equally, as the LP message pulls from both parties depending on the issue. Thus, for New Hampshire, if the two major party candidates get about 230,000 votes each and the LP candidate gets 250,000, the LP would win NH.

Rhode Island present the other side of this for the Greens. It voted heavily for Obama in 2012. The major party candidates will spend little or nothing in a non-swing state. This reduces competition for ad inventory and hopefully reduces the price the Greens would have to pay for TV and radio spots. The Greens are more likely to draw their votes from the Democrat side, which lines up well with the goal of winning the state by pulling votes from the strongest competitor in that state.

Of course it’s not so simple as to say: “Poof, we’re doing a one-state strategy this time.” Despite their small size, the third parties have their own establishments and parochialism to deal with. Party leadership in states other than the chosen one may resent the focus on that state and the lack of attention to their own state. One would hope that these leaders could see the value in the strategy and “take one for the team.” But that may be an optimistic view of state and local third party leadership.

Why the one-state strategy? First, concentrating resources and effort in a smaller area does work. In 2010 I was the Libertarian candidate for Governor of New York. We spent about $10,000 on a relatively small burst of TV and radio advertising in the Albany area. Statewide we got 1% of the vote. We got our best results where we advertised, with over 3% of the vote in the four largest and most central counties there: Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Schenectady. We had more votes on our line in all four than Andrew Cuomo got on the Democrat-controlled Working Families line. In Bronx County, our worst, we had about 0.2% of the vote. So we did 15 times better in our strongest county than our weakest, and triple our statewide average.

By comparison, Jimmy McMillan of the Rent is Too Damn High party fell just short of our total statewide with 0.9% of the vote. He got votes due to the celebrity he attained from our one statewide debate which vaulted him to a brief moment of fame.

He was even mocked on Saturday Night Live.

While third parties seem to think celebrity candidates are the answer to getting votes, we did get more votes than McMillan. But the results show that the celebrity vote spreads more evenly than targeted advertising.

In his strongest county, New York (Manhattan), he had 1.1%, and in his weakest (Yates) he had 0.5%. This is in stark contrast to our results. His strongest was only double his weakest where our strongest-weakest ratio was 15-1. And his strongest county to statewide average ratio was 1.2-1 where ours was 3-1.

We spent less than $10K on advertising to get 3% of the vote for a third party in an area with a population slightly smaller than Rhode Island and half the size of New Hampshire. Now imagine what a third-party candidate could do by spending $1 million in advertising in one of those states.

62 thoughts on “2016 and the One-State Strategy: A What-If Scenario

  1. Gigi Bowman

    I like your idea Warren.

    On another note, who, in your opinion should we consider to run for Governor in 2014 that will get us the 50,000 vote we need in New York. We need to get this done.

  2. George Phillies

    Most party resources are not fungible.

    This approach was tried by Badnarik in 2004, perhaps not as purely as being proposed here.

    On the other hand, a campaign that actually focused its money on outreach rather than consultants would have considerably more resources to invest.

    Building local parties might make the strategy practical. You can ship 20,000 yard signs to East Dakota or California; what are you going to do with them? There are other challenges. We may recall the former MA libertarian statewide candidate who refused to share lists of lawn sign locations with later libertarian candidates.

    Finally, the proposal at least represents a change. We have tried the ‘run someone well-known’ line in four of the past five elections, with limited results.

  3. Nicholas Sarwark

    There are two potential problems with a one-state strategy: (1) donors from other states won’t want to give money with no return in their state and (2) supporters may be skeptical of a campaign with such a narrow focus for a national race.

    I’m fine with trying it, if you can get the funds to do it, but not sure it’ll work.

    My preference is that the campaign work with state parties that are active and try to leverage those reverse coattails to show the voters that we are more than a top of the ticket party.

  4. Chuck Moulton

    Additionally to the points Nick and George bring up, traveling around the country and reaching out to people in other states generates earned national media that spills over to other states and new campaign supporters with friends in other states. A campaign that only focuses on one state won’t get those. And a campaign that only focuses on one state will be taken much less seriously in general — both in that one state and nationally.

    In today’s environment, ideas like this should be tried by super-PACs rather than the campaign itself. A 2 million dollar donor could spend all the resources in one state. Then you don’t need to worry about party resources not fungible, donor’s from other states not enthusiastic about it, and donor skepticism of narrow focus. Nor would the campaign become a joke because the candidate himself would not be ignoring the other 49 states.

  5. Richard Winger

    Voters in the single state chosen for this project won’t respond. All voters, in all states, know that the presidential election is a national election. They will perceive that the minor party presidential candidate is not really campaigning nationwide, and that will cause them to be uninterested in that presidential candidate.

    It would be different if there were an intense regional issue. Strom Thurmond was quite rational in 1948 to only campaign in the deep south. Generally he didn’t even try to get on the ballot in states outside the south. But that’s not the same thing as a minor party has policy ideas for the entire nation.

  6. Zapper

    “In 2010 I was the Libertarian candidate for Governor of New York. We spent about $10,000 on a relatively small burst of TV and radio advertising in the Albany area. Statewide we got 1% of the vote. We got our best results where we advertised, with over 3% of the vote in the four largest and most central counties there: Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Schenectady …”

    Lets hope the readers see this and realize that it’s TV advertising that we need to carry us forward, in targeted markets.

    In the 2014 elections we will again have the opportunity to win ballot access by funding TV ads on major network broadcast TV in states such as: NY, IA, NH.

    These states should make plans now to advertise and win ballot status. Plan to advertise. Make a budget. Go out and raise enough money to meet the budget.

    Remember that you are not likely to hit a target that you don’t aim at.

    As for the LP POTUS effort in 2016:

    The one-state plan is similar to the Zapper plan. However it excludes other considerations which make it clear that this good idea should be expanded to include several targeted small states:

    1) Portfolio theory suggests we should invest in a small group of small states instead of just one state. Even with all of our money allocated to a single state, we are unlikely to actually win that state. However, we can earn double digit results in a number of small states by targeting a portfolio of states.

    The Zapper plan suggests starting with a minimum of three targeted states and increasing that number as resources permit.

    2) Voters inside a single targeted state are likely to realize that this targeting is exclusive to them and for some of them to object to being manipulated.

    Targeting multiple states obviates this problem since there will be other targeted states to point to and because the campaign intends to and will add states to the list over time. This will also help to encourage out-of-state nationwide donors.

    3) Targeting multiple states, 3 from the outset, allows the targeted state voters to realize that there are others states where the LP POTUS candidate is also popular and thereby reinforcing their belief in the wisdom of their choice. This will encourage additional response in terms of members, donors, supporters and votes.

    4) Targeting multiple states will reach a saturation point in media attention that will call forth national media coverage – earned free media. The value of this free coverage can make the entire effort worth its cost.

  7. Dale

    And then what?

    Robert LaFollette won a state (and 16% of the popular vote!) It did nothing for the Progressive party.

  8. Derek

    How about focusing on the safe states? Small states are usually out of play, because either the Dems or GOP will win them.

    Focusing on all safe states, either for the GOP or Dems, is the best way. I wouldn’t only focus on the small states, I think safe states like NY, MA, CA, IL, TX, just to name a few, should also be in our sight.

    Imagine if Libertarians in 2016 could make news by getting more than 5% of the national vote, win most of the electoral votes from the small states and do very well in safe states becoming the alternative.

    I don’t think that it’s impossible for Libertarians to eventually win states like Alaska, Wyoming, Idaho, Vermont or Delaware for the Presidential elections. We need to try.

  9. Zapper

    @9 You’re forgetting the problem of limited resources. The LP doesn’t have enough money to focus on the states you name. That’s the point of the discussion. In fact, just one state such as: NY, MA, CA, IL, TX, is too costly, even if it were chosen as the “one” state. It’s problem of large population states and the cost of media.

    We do, however, always raise enough money to target at least 3 small states.

  10. Gigi Bowman

    People do know who I am –but I wouldn’t be confident knowing nothing about running a state even if I was doing it just to get 50,000 votes. About all I’ve ever run are a few businesses as a bookkeeper and I owned a small business for a short time (children’s birthday party storefront). I’m also not someone who has expendable money –can I get donations? I’m not sure. Many people know me and like me. Just as many hate me lol

    and what about the naked pictures out there? lol

  11. Wes Benedict

    Gigi, if someone else (even Kristen Davis if that’s what NY Libertarians want this time) who’s likely to put forth a decent campaign decides to run, fine. But I think Gigi would do well. I’ve been recruiting a lot of candidates for many years. I know that $1,000 campaigns often do as well as $50,000 campaigns. Keep it simple and just try to break the New York record. You can do it, and without a whole lot of work. If a go-getter with $100,000 decides to run–fine. Step out of the way.

  12. Wes Benedict

    I haven’t looked up the campaign finance reports, but I’m guessing of the five candidates in Texas that got over 1 million votes, less than two of them spent over $100.

  13. bruuno

    I think it is an interesting idea and well argued but in the end I think Mr. Winger is right, the voters in the state would wind up ignoring it. Plus the consequences of the all in one state strategy failing could be apocolyptic for the Party (be it Green or LP). Having a national campaign like this last one by the LP, but then maybe focusing a disproportionate advertising funds on a couple of smaller states like Alaska and Idaho (or Rhode Island and Hawaii for the GP) for example, may be a better way to go as an experiment.
    For example-
    if you have $1 million for advertising spend $400,000 nationally and $300,000 in each of the two states.
    What I didn’t understand was campaigning heavily in swing states like Ohio or even New Hampshire. You will be absolutely buried advertising and attention wise by the big 2. Plus voters will be less likely to vote for a 3rd Party in these states because closeness of the race.
    So I guess I support the idea of a modified version of this strategy, at least on an experimental level. I chose AK and ID because these two states seem like perfect states for this experiment. The GOP and Dems completely ignore it, voters won’t feel pressure to vote for one of the big two because they won’t fear ‘swinging’ the election and the ‘wasted vote’ argument basically is thrown out the window.

  14. Mike

    Not that I particularly agree with the article but I believe the LP should focus a lot more on Montana.

    Johnson/ Gray received their second highest percentage there (only second to New Mexico). Mike Fellows also won the highest vote % ever in a statewide race (43.1%). Dan Cox (L) won 6.5% in the Senate race even after Ron Paul endorsed his Republican opponent (granted there was quite a bit of money spent on advertising for Cox by a Democratic group). The Race for Governor was also within the margin of Vandevender’s (L) vote total.

    The state also has a very low population and is well-known for its libertarian streak. Not all things are ideal (the recent reversal of the medical marijuana law ) but I think it’s a far better choice than New Hampshire.

    Keep in mind that Johnson campaigned more in New Hampshire than anywhere else and only received 1.2% (8,319) votes there. Gray only visited Montana once and they received 2.9% (13,923) votes. I think it might be time to think about another Free State Project.

  15. NewFederalist

    Right on, Mike @22… PLUS Montana is a much better place to live than New Hampshire. Ugh!

  16. wredlich Post author

    Regarding some of the other comments:

    “This approach was tried by Badnarik in 2004, perhaps not as purely as being proposed here.”

    No, not even close. According to Wikipedia he bought national TV ads as well as ads in four swing states, all larger than NH or RI.

    “(1) donors from other states won’t want to give money with no return in their state”

    We don’t know that and I doubt it’s accurate. I suspect that many LP donors contribute because they believe in the LP, not because they expect quid pro quo spending in their state. And if it is accurate then libertarian donors are just like the pork barrel contributors in the major parties.

    “(2) supporters may be skeptical of a campaign with such a narrow focus for a national race.”

    How do we know that?

  17. wredlich Post author

    “traveling around the country … generates earned national media…. And a campaign that only focuses on one state will be taken much less seriously in general — both in that one state and nationally.”

    Third-party candidates get almost zero earned national media no matter what, and are not taken seriously. They can’t be taken less seriously. However, if the third-party candidate starts polling well in the one state, that might become a national media story because winning the state creates a scenario where neither major party candidate wins the electoral college vote.

  18. wredlich Post author

    “Robert LaFollette won a state (and 16% of the popular vote!) It did nothing for the Progressive party.”

    His “Progressive Party” had just been formed and was disbanded shortly after the election. He died the next year.

    I agree that winning a state is not an end in itself. The idea is that it’s something the third party could build upon.

    There is a massive public perception that third parties like the Libertarians and Greens can’t win. Winning a state demonstrates that they can win. That makes it easier to pitch to contributors – yes we really can win elections.

  19. wredlich Post author

    “the voters in the state would wind up ignoring it.”

    We don’t know that.

    “Plus the consequences of the all in one state strategy failing could be apocolyptic for the Party”

    If failing on an all-state strategy is not apocalyptic, why is failing on a one-state strategy?

  20. NewFederalist

    I believe that the ” Zapper Plan” should get serious scrutiny over the next year especially if Governor Johnson decides after his post election depression to seek the LP nomination again. I don’t know who Zapper is but his idea seems to have lots of merit to me. Start early and saturate a market you can influence. If the LP nominee in 2016 looks like he (or she) can carry Wyoming and/or another small state or two then media interest will build.

  21. wredlich Post author

    “What I didn’t understand was campaigning heavily in swing states …. You will be absolutely buried advertising and attention wise by the big 2. Plus voters will be less likely to vote for a 3rd Party in these states because closeness of the race.”

    I discussed swing-state vs. safe-state in the article. A safe state might make more sense, but it could play the other way as well. Voters from the dominant party in a safe state may be more inclined to vote for their guy and harder to pull away. Swing voters in a swing state may be sick of both major party candidates due to the heavy negative ads they run against each other, opening up the door for the clean third-party candidate.

  22. wredlich Post author

    “Johnson campaigned more in New Hampshire than anywhere else and only received 1.2% (8,319) votes there. Gray only visited Montana once and they received 2.9% (13,923) votes.”

    Montana might be an option, but where the candidates visited is not the issue. It’s where they spend money on advertising that matters.

    Do we know where the Johnson campaign or the Stein campaign spent money on ads? Did either spend much money? From what I could see, Johnson spent almost all the money on consultants.

  23. Jeremy C. Young

    I think this idea has merit, only I’d target states specific to the candidates running, rather than relying on natural third-party lean (of which there is almost none, in any state). For instance, if Gary Johnson ran again you would definitely want to target New Mexico, where Johnson already has the unbuyable advantage of built-in statewide goodwill, rather than New Hampshire.

    Dale @8, that’s a poor comparison. The La Follette Progressives were organized explicitly to elect La Follette first and build a party organization afterward. Everyone knew that the party would disband if he lost. A better comparison would be with the Populist Party of 1892 — in that case, 8% of the vote nationwide translated to four Senators and two dozen Congressmen. That made the party a legitimate major party in the Midwest and South — a status it only lost after an ill-advised fusion attempt and a vicious Democratic campaign of race-baiting in the South.

    @19, Warren owns the site now, so he can do what he wants. However, speaking as a longtime reader and sometime writer, I would prefer transparency in two regards: 1) an actual front-page post mentioning the change of ownership, and 2) a tag of “Editorial” or “From the Publisher” whenever Warren posts his own views. (Not that this is a particularly controversial opinion piece.)

  24. wredlich Post author

    “You can ship 20,000 yard signs to East Dakota or California; … We may recall the former MA libertarian statewide candidate who refused to share lists of lawn sign ….”

    Lawn signs are not cost-effective. Someone please show me a reliable source showing these very expensive items draw a meaningful number of votes.

    We did not spend our money on lawn signs, consultants, etc. We got good bang for our buck by spending money on TV and radio advertising.

  25. Andy

    I don’t think that this is a good idea at all for a presidential campaign. Nobody is going to take a candidate for President seriously who only campaigns in one state.

  26. Andy

    George Phillies said: “This approach was tried by Badnarik in 2004, perhaps not as purely as being proposed here.”

    The Badnarik campaign was national, but they did target their limited advertising budget to a few swing states. They didn’t have much money, and the ads did not result in big votes (even by LP standards), but they did have some positive effect.

  27. Andy

    “Gigi Bowman // Nov 14, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    People do know who I am –but I wouldn’t be confident knowing nothing about running a state even if I was doing it just to get 50,000 votes.”

    Well, it’s November of 2012 so you’ve got plenty of time to study up about things like this before the nomination comes around.

  28. Wes Benedict

    I think Gary Johnson could have spent $20 million on TV ads in one small state and still not broken 5%.

  29. Robert Capozzi

    Thoughtful, but on balance not a good idea.

    Now, getting one L elected to Congress in 2014…that seems the more enticing.

  30. James

    I agree with Zapper in the sense that the Libertarians should condense their resources into a fewer number of states, but it certainly shouldn’t be one. As long as the battleground states are avoided, those being flooded with ads from the big 2, the candidate should have a good chance of getting their message out in a way that at least will be within the voter’s peripheral vision.

    As for Congress, while 2014 certainly seems to have good prospects for the LP, there is no way of knowing which races they should concentrate upon yet. They likely will be what are perceived as safe seats, or possibly even open seats that are considered to strongly lean one way. Even then though, it depends a lot on who they manage to recruit to run in the first place.

  31. bruuno

    #28- A fair question. My answer is that if, for example, the LP goes all in in one state and fail to get 5% then no one will ever believe they can ever succeed anywhere.
    As for the swing state issue I really don’t get the reasoning behind campaigning more there than non-swing states. In swing states you will be buried in advertising even if you spend every dime there. The big 2 Parties will have maximum turnout efforts, lowering any percentage for the 3rd Party, plus voters in the swing state will be more prone to the “throwing away your vote’ argument.

  32. wredlich Post author

    @19 and @32: I bounced this idea off a couple people before I wrote it. The suggestion made to me was to make it a “what-if” rather than an opinion piece, and to make it about third parties in general rather than specifically about the LP.

    And that’s what I did. It’s an idea … a thought piece. Nowhere did I say anyone should do anything.

    But I do like the idea of a front page post announcing the change in ownership. I’ll do that now.

  33. Eric Sundwall

    @24 Write for IPR?

    Perhaps I could be special correspondent for the Edes for Governor campaign in NY . . .

    First Milnes gone, now WAR . . . what’s become of this place? Zapper for President!

  34. Kleptocracy And You

    @16 Wes Benedict // Nov 14, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    As far as the one-state strategy, if you’re for it, set up a PAC and let the donations speak for themselves.

    Me – Wes has the correct approach, LPUS is setup to run a POTUS campaign and promote affiliate state org, not just one affiliate. So setup a PAC now yes now LEGALLY and see if your idea will work. If you can raise a couple of M$ I’m sure the LP candidate will agree to spend a great deal of time on the ground in that state!

    The quicker you guys understand that the “FREE” MSM will never come in a “positive” manner the better it will be for all of us. It will only be NEGATIVE. The LP is anti-war and anti-world policemen, the MSM are LACKEYS for the WarMachine PERIOD. The LP will have to BUY their media in most cases and use LOCAL free media whenever possible to bypass the MSM bias.

    Yes TV and Radio Ads are essential but even cheap road/yard signs are very important to any campaign as they re-enforce name I.D. and shows local support. In fact these signs are the cheapest way to reach the masses allowing the poorer candidate to compete with the richer, and therefore are being outlawed in more and more municipalities nationwide. In such cases you must SURROUND the city with the signs.

    I understand now why you missed 50,000 votes and Ballot Access. If you would have had your name on signs every 4 to 5 miles (or closer) on every major NY Highway you would have surpassed 50K easily !!! Even CHEAP signs can help get the needed name I.D. Drivers would see your name every few minutes and that ads up in their memory to all other encounters they have to your campaign.

    8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8

    There is even a CHEAPER way – lol

    FreewayBlogging=How to reach 100,000 people for under $1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTf-dFfS-eU&feature=related

    *Suggestion for freeway signs – Solutions = W W W.LP.ORG

    Return of the FreewayBlogger ver 2.0: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQdTBPONUDw&feature=related

    How To Freeway Blog (or how to reach 100,000 people for less than $1): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgX5tbRhJLA&NR=1 8339

    *Suggestion for freeway sign always add-Solutions = W W W.LP.ORG

    Freeway Blogger: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4k-i7k67Ud8&feature=related 9315

  35. Curt Boyd

    What Libertarians and Greens should do is start recruiting candidates for State Legislature and Congress…a party that runs candidates in all 435 Congressional districts would get taken pretty seriously, and chances are, would get statewide or nationwide candidates more attention.

  36. Mark Axinn

    I am one of the people off whom Warren bounced this idea (how’s that for a convoluted construction?).

    I’m not in favor of concentrating on just one state for many the reasons articulated above, but the idea merits consideration nevertheless, especially because it comes from our most successful and professional Gubernatorial candidate in the history of the LPNY.

    Now as far as Mr. Sundwall is concerned–of course you cannot boycott IPR. If you do, I’m sending Wayne to your house to remind you that he is the son of a butcher!

  37. Matt Cholko

    I’m don’t think that I agree with the “one state strategy” outlined here, but I do agree (very generally) with the Zapper plan, and I think that the underlying tenets of both ideas are the same. Basically, since we have very limited resources, we need to concentrate those resources in such a way as to maximize our “bang for the buck.” The problem is, we have virtually no hard data from which to determine how to achieve this.

    Given this, I’d rather see something like the Zapper plan, that targets multiple areas, so that we can begin to develop some of this badly needed data.

  38. Matt Cholko

    Also, regarding yard signs…. my experience is that they can be a great marketing tool. When I ran for VA House in 2009 we used a huge amount of signs. When walking precincts I heard many times things like “It is so nice to finally meet you. I’ve seen your signs all over the place.” And, better yet, our Korean signs (yes, signs in Hangul) got us front page coverage in one of the local Korean newspapers.

    At the end of the day, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Rs and Ds spend lots of money figuring out how to campaign. Obviously, our strategy cannot be exactly the same, as we don’t have the same resources. But, we can learn from them. Signage works, radio ads work, billboards work, TV ads work, hand shaking works (better than anything else).

  39. Larry West

    Personally I think the strategy should first be to try to get the party to levels where they are automatically on the ballot for the next election in as many states as possible. Then, the party would not have to waste valuable time and resources spent on petitioning that could be spent on actual campaigning.
    Agree with Curt regarding getting local candidates, especially in states that have straight party voting — people won’t choose it if the party only has the President on the ballot, and that might cost the Presidential candidate a few votes.

  40. James

    Actually, does the LP have a database of the donors to their various campaigns for the last set of elections? Or some sort of register? From those statistics the LP would know who to target first, where best to gather early monetary and manpower support for the coming congressional campaigns.

  41. George Phillies

    @33 I have seen the tree, but there was a forest. Whatever scheme you are planning to invest resources in one state, if it requires local support you have found the same bottleneck. Lawn signs are simply an example.

    I am reminded of running for Congress in ’98, and some character complaining that I could not be serious because I had not tried to organize a committee in every ward. If you counted warm bodies, you soon noted that a committee in each state Senate District was exceedingly optimistic.

  42. Zapper

    Let’s get back to the important point from Warren Redlich (congrats on buying IPR, by the way) …

    “In 2010 I was the Libertarian candidate for Governor of New York. We spent about $10,000 on a relatively small burst of TV and radio advertising in the Albany area. Statewide we got 1% of the vote. We got our best results where we advertised, with over 3% of the vote in the four largest and most central counties there: Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Schenectady …”

    As we can see from this small experiment in NY, target TV advertising works.

    For a starter, we need to learn from this in NY itself. The NY LP needs to plan from the getgo that they’ll need $40,000 for TV, targeted to few upstate markets – major network broadcast TV spots plus cable TV in the same markets if fundraising permits it.

    Yes, lawn signs, road signs, billboards etc will add to the effect … But the TV spots must come first.

    We will need some big donors, but many more donors who can donate smaller amounts to raies this amount – of course in NY the maximum donation allowed is over $50k but we can’t expect to find that.

    $40,000 is doable, especially if you start to plan now, expect to do it, set out to do it, and promise donors – guarantee them – that earmarked donations will be spent exclusively to buy network TV ads in targeted upstate NY markets, on broadcast TV and cable if more than $40k is raised. $40, should be enough to push the LP beyond 50,000 votes.

    If you do this, if you set up targeted TV spots according to this plan, I will guarantee (if I’m not dead) to donate a significant number myself and, if you wish, to call potential high dollar donors from your list, pay for the calls myself with no commission and guarantee to only use the list for your calls and not steal it in any way.

    During the 2010 race I supported Warren the best I could from outside of New York State – wish it could be Warren Redlich, Libertarian for Goveror again in 2014 – and if the LP nominates someone decent again in 2014 I will support that candidate.

    It’s time for the LP to finally win ballot access in NY and keep it.

  43. Steve

    “I think Badnarik tried this”
    You’re thinking of Stephen Colbert running for President of the United States of South Carolina 🙂

    Governor Johnson did try something similar to this when he was still a Republican, investing everything in New Hampshire. The problem was, New Hampshire voters were pretty savvy and they didn’t take seriously a one-state Presidential candidate.

    Count me as one of those donors (albeit a very small donor) and supporters who would not be supportive of this. I was the admin on our state’s Gary Johnson facebook page and the number one question we got was “When is he coming to Iowa?” from people who got on board late and missed his early visits. So people do want to see the candidate. In states where the Presidential candidate affects ballot access, this would be a complete non-starter.

    That’s not to say we shouldn’t target our advertising. I’ll put in another plug for the “growth states” strategy. Put the resources where they’ll win us ballot access or best contribute to party building.

  44. Zapper

    @54 Certainly the idea behind the Zapper plan is to target LP POTUS advertising to a few small states, adding to the list as funding permits, but not to limit the campaigning of the candidates to those same states.

    Public appearances, speaking and media opportunities and especially outreach to youth through universities, colleges etc should take place nationwide.

    Of course, the advertising in the small states should generate media and speaking appearances that can be coordinated with the scheduling of the ads. This effect will help generate earned media nationwide – leverage that will be worth multiples of the cost of the purchased ads.

    The first election year flights should be rolled out in the spring of 2016, no later than the day immediately following the nominating convention and selection of our candidate.

    Preferably the LP nominee and at least one opponent seeking the LP nod will have begun this plan earlier, prior to the nominating convention.

    Although I generally state that we could begin with as few as three states for $150,000, I would prefer to begin by planing for a more ambitious and doable $320,000 budget to start in May 2016, targeting these 7 states:

    WY, MT, ID
    ME, NH, VT

  45. Mark Axinn

    Zapper @53–

    Thank you for your offer to help pay for TV advertising in NY in 2014. I certainly agree on the value of advertising and public relations.

    I got one small problem. The first $40,000 we raise has to be used just to get on the ballot. Only after that, is there any money left over for advertising.

  46. Zapper


    At some point you have to bite the bullet, raise more money than ususal, do the ballot drive and the TV advertising, earn more than 50,000 votes – hopefully a lot more – and then the ballot drive costs will no longer be a problem.

    Let’s make 2014 the year.

    Let’s plan now to do it.

  47. Zapper

    This is a discussion site, so I don’t do extensive editing for typos. If we had editing capability I would go back and change the most egregious ones. I generally ignore others’ typos and poor grammar and punctuation as well, for the same reason, it’s a discussion site.

    However, your suggestion regarding aquisition of a spell checking program is a non sequitur … since both “planning” and “planing” are legitimate words, a spell checker wouldn’t register either as being a mistake. This is how many typos escape notice, especially when one is typing conversationally for speed.

  48. Tom

    In Nevada, the Independent American Party is by far the 3 largest party in the state. Since it is also the fastest growing party in the state, it plans to be a major party by 2016.

    It is affliliated with the Constitution Party and would be a perfect chice for this idea.

  49. Stephen Kent Gray

    Actually,Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming are other good options for the Libertarian Party due to the free West Alliance. Wyoming also has the Free State Wyoming as well.

    Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming were all candidates the Free State Project voted amongst. The Delaware Libertarian blog is a reason Delaware could be that state. The west east split controversially split the Free State Project. Thus leading to spin off groups like Free West Alliance and Free State Wyoming.

    Hawaii and Rhodes Island are both possible candidates for the Green Party. They were both rejected candidate for the Free State Project.

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