Polls “Very Bad News” for Third Candidate CPD Debate Invitation


Image source: Realclearpolitics.com  (edited to show only the Libertarian and Green Parties, and only from 1 June 2016 to 31 August 2016.  NOTE: Real Clear Politics is using a different set of polling data than that which will be used by the Commission on Presidential Debates. The Real Clear Politics high for Johnson was 8.9 on 21 August.  His polling average by their methodology indicates a drop of 1.3 points (15 percent) in the past 10 days.)

An article by Matt Welsh, published by Reason Magazine yesterday is titled “First Relevant Poll in Nearly a Month Is Very Bad News for Gary Johnson’s Debate Prospects: Fox News has the Libertarian at 9%, making his national average in the polls that matter 9.2% with two-plus weeks before the 15% cutoff.”

The REASON MAGAZINE article reports:

” . . . the results are terrible for Gary Johnson’s debate prospects: 41 percent for Hillary Clinton, 39 percent for Donald Trump, 9 for Johnson, and 4 for Green Party nominee Jill Stein. If the debate commission were making its calculations today, Johnson would be at 9.2 percent, nowhere remotely close to inclusion.

“The news for Johnson is, if anything, worse than that.

“Up until now, Fox News hadn’t included Stein in the polls, and Gary Johnson had averaged exactly 11 percent. In the absence of any broadly observed Libertarian decline in national surveys, that suggests a possible two-point Stein Effect  . . .”

The full article can be read HERE.

127 thoughts on “Polls “Very Bad News” for Third Candidate CPD Debate Invitation

  1. Tony From Long Island

    Disappointing. Doubtful the “Cartel on Presidential Debates” will do the right thing and include him anyway.

  2. Anthony Dlugos

    The odds were long from the get go.

    The only saving grace regarding this news is that I wouldn’t necessarily panic; with the high unfavorables of the Duopoly candidates, I don’t think missing the first debate is a death knell for Johnson’s chances the way it would have been in other cycles.

  3. JamesT

    Yeah those numbers will keep going down. I seriously doubt either of them will hit 5%. Probably at best Nader’s 3% in 2000. But I hope both get 5 for the sake of ballot access.

  4. dL


    So we have a ” Cartel on Presidential Debates” but nothing else in the state apparatus qualifies as a cartel?
    The state as a cartel(and not as some social compact) is the very essence of the libertarian critique. If we begin with the assumption of the state as social compact(which is your usual presumption), the I’m not sure how you would conclude “Cartel on Presidential debates.” Its the “Commission on Presidential Debates” as a reflection of the general will. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t mock libertarians as purists for opposing the cartels and then when things don’t go your way, start tossing out “extremist, purist” libertarian rhetoric like “cartel.” If the gatekeepers of american democracy are indeed a cartel, then democracy itself is just a sham legitimization of a cartel.

  5. Be Rational

    It takes advertising – real advertising – not just appearances and social media …
    … no advertising … no victory … no surprise …

    Maybe they’ll get lucky; maybe the CPD will include them based on polls that show 50 or 60% of Americans want to see them in the debates. That shows 15% support in the polls – just not based on intended voting.

  6. dL

    “Maybe they’ll get lucky; maybe the CPD will include them based on polls that show 50 or 60% of Americans want to see them in the debates. That shows 15% support in the polls – just not based on intended voting.”



  7. Be Rational

    “Maybe they’ll get lucky; maybe the CPD will include them based on polls that show 50 or 60% of Americans want to see them in the debates. That shows 15% support in the polls – just not based on intended voting.”




    It’s the same sort of wishful thinking that says nominating a famous celebrity will lead to a breakthrough or that public appearances or social media will get you enough attention to make 15% or carry an Electoral vote.

    It takes real advertising … on major network broadcast TV, in targeted states …

    … with target states chosen based on having: small populations, contiguous small states with good prospects, some history of electing Ls or Independents. The national LP should assign a realistic budget and a long range plan of electing state reps, state senators and eventually statwide officeholders and carrying the targeted states in the EC.

    In short, the LP needs to establish a beachhead in a long-term political war.

  8. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    Be Rational: It takes advertising – real advertising – not just appearances and social media …

    I recently heard a Gary Johnson ad on radio’s George Noory Show.

  9. Be Rational

    … much too little … way too late … wrong media to start with

    (Radio is a geat filler to reach nitches in a POTUS campaign, but only AFTER you’ve reached saturaton on major network broadcast TV in tarteted states; social media is also a good filler to reach nitch groups after TV saturation.)

    Radio IS good for local, state rep and state senate races, and as part of a statewide major office media plan.

  10. dL

    “It takes real advertising … on major network broadcast TV, in targeted states …’

    It takes real money…50-100M minimum. I don’t care what the message is, you need serious resources if you are going to launch serious presidential campaign. I define “serious” not to mean “credible” or “respectable,” but serious resources. Both Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders demonstrated that people with long term consistency(more or less) can attract individual donations to a level that rises to serious resources. So it can be done. It has been done twice in the last 8 years. TeamGov, on the other hand, could not ask for a better or more ideal scenario…donald trump as the GOP nominee…scandal-ridden Clinton as the Dem nominee. Two ex-GOP governors. The results: abysmal failure. No money raised, and the money raised syphoned off pretty much to consultants. Single-digit polling. Flat our failure. And when they quit after they don’t make the debates, all the air goes out. Pathetic. Losertarianism.

    Libertarian purism. Ok. The Drug War needs to end, all of it. The post 911 security state needs to go. All of it.
    No compromise. None. Oh, and the LP is a political party. So it necessarily is a partisan party. You don’t freakin call the scandal-ridden nominees of an opposing political party “wonderful public servants.” My god.

    I have no idea how any of this could be in dispute to someone who is a LP member. To think otherwise your brain has to be out to be completely out to rent to GOP adjuncts like Cato(who operate with ulterior motives. They are a GOP think tank, after all).

  11. George Phillies

    “But I hope both get 5 for the sake of ballot access.”

    5% of the vote has nearly nothing to do with ballot access. Rumors that 5% of the vote would give national ballot access are flatout lies, and I hope that JamesT tells off this source of this total nonsense.

  12. Mr. Brown

    George Phillies is incorrect. See http://ballot-access.org/2016/08/27/august-2016-ballot-access-news-print-edition/ and scroll down to 2016 PRESIDENTIAL VOTE EFFECT ON PARTY QUALIFICATION OR RETENTION, keeping in mind that the LP already has ballot access retention through other criteria in many of the remaining states, or could achieve them with other office election results besides president, which are likely to be affected by presidential “coattails” as well.

  13. George Phillies

    Mr. Phillies is correct. There are a grand total of six states for which 5% would matter for 2020. This includes at least one state for which petitioning for most offices is rather painless.

    Also. the phrase “party qualification or retention” means very different things. For example, in Massachusetts, you can already register Libertarian, run as a Libertarian, and have “Libertarian” on the line after your name on the ballot, and Johnson’s vote total has no effect on this.

    In contrast, the new Hampshire vote for Abramson and Chacot matters a great deal for New Hampshire.

  14. George Phillies

    Also, I said ” Rumors that 5% of the vote would give national ballot access are flatout lies” and the table proves that I am right.

  15. Mr. Brown

    “Mr. Phillies is correct. There are a grand total of six states for which 5% would matter for 2020. This includes at least one state for which petitioning for most offices is rather painless.”

    There are additional states where it would make a difference for 2018, which could carry with it the opportunity for another race that would result in not having to petition in 2020.

    IE – Alaska 3%; Arizona 5%. They may qualify anyway through voter registration but that isn’t assured.

    Arkansas, 3% means retention in 2018. They would then need 3% for Governor in 2018 to avoid petitioning in 2020.

    Connecticut, 1% would do away with the need for a presidential petition in 2020.

    DC, 2.5% would secure a spot in 2018, creating a possible opportunity for another race to preserve ballot access into 2020 that would otherwise only happen with a 2018 petition drive there.

    Idaho, 3% would retain ballot access for 2018; see above.

    Illinois, 5% would save ballot access for 2018; see above.

    Iowa, 2% for 2018.

    Kentucky, 2% for 2018, 2019 and 2020.

    And so on.

    Mr. Phillies utterly ignores that a relatively well-performing presidential candidate will likely mean even better results in down ticket races, some of which would add additional states to the list of those with retained ballot access – in some cases for 2018 as well as 2020, and in some cases only for 2018, but that is the only possible way that retention could happen for 2020.

    To take just one example, 2.5% in the presidential race would mean ballot retention in 2018 for Oklahoma. The alternative is a petition of tens of thousands of signatures in a low population state, most likely without help from national since it will be a non-presidential year. The odds of a state LP managing a petition drive of that size without help from national are very low, unless of course the party as a whole grows a great deal as a result of this year’s election in a sustainable way. But if there’s no ballot access in 2018 there’s no chance of getting 2.5% for Governor and avoiding a 2020 ballot drive.

    There are other examples in the list above.

  16. Be Rational

    “It’s not yet “game over” for Libertarian Gary Johnson’s bid to qualify for the first presidential debate, but his hopes are getting slim.”

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/09/gary-johnson-presidential-debates-227654#ixzz4J6txOrRt

    “… he has just two weeks to do it.”

    “To pull that off, Johnson will have to overcome an upcoming polling methodology shift that’s likely to work against him, another third-party candidate who seems to be siphoning his support
    and a campaign strategy that was never aimed at boosting his status in national polls.”

    “It’s a huge effort. A herculean effort,” Ulm said. “This is the realm of network television buys.”


    As you can see. The media noticed.

    Because they noticed that the Johnson campaing had no legitimate strategy that would get them to 15% in the polls, or win any states or any Electoral Votes, the GJ/WW campaign didn’t earn the free media they needed to get to 15%.

    They were aware of a strategy that would work. It was presented here and sent to the campaign.

    Barring a miracle caused by a Trump or Clinton meltdown, Johnson will not make 15%. Barring some gift from the CPD to include Johnson despite his dipping poll numbers, Johnson will not be in the debates …

    … UNLESS …

    … unless the Johnson campaign has booked some surprise advertising program for the upcoming holiday weekend plus a two week blitz through mid September – at least $20 million – of nationwide network advertising – being too late to use either time leverage or targeted Electoral Vote leverage.

    Without this, it’s over. What will GJ do and say after they miss the first debate?

    The media recognizes that there was never a legitimate campaign strategy.
    The media recognizes that Johnson’s polling has been falling gradually since mid June and the end of the LP convention bounce – despite GJ’s attempt to paint an untrue rosy picture.


    We could still make the best use of the remaining time and resources.

    Fire Nielson.
    Forget about the debates.
    Cut campaign staff expenses to the bone.
    Continue rallies and appearances at events around the country with GJ and WW.
    Listen to a campaign expert on how to target states for Electoral Votes.
    Go for the best outcome in November.
    It now requires a two-region truncated target group of states.
    Focus the remaining resources primarily on six target states: ME, NH, VT and NM, CO, UT
    (This requires some ad buys in surrounding overlap states that contribute to the target states, of course.)
    Go all out on major network TV in these six states through election day.

  17. Anthony Dlugos

    Because of the historic unpopularity of the duopoly candidates, I wouldn’t give up on strategizing to get into the debates until at least after the first debate and its fallout.

    It’s a long shot, no doubt, but it was always a long shot.

  18. dL

    “It’s a long shot, no doubt, but it was always a long shot.’

    That’s certainly not how it was sold. Not by a long shot. Now the revisionist history kicks in, “oh, it was always a long shot.”

  19. Anthony Dlugos

    No revision from me. I was in Orlando saying Johnson-Weld was our best
    shot at getting in the debates, the best shot we ever had, but still a long shot.

    Any other option in Orlando was a big fat goose egg, the null set, zilch, zip, zero, and possibly the sort of decision that would embarrass the party in the eyes of the American people.

  20. George Phillies

    Joe: “so no apparent effect of the media campaign).”

    Media Campaign?

    Johnson Weld was obviously going to be a disaster, mitigated only by running against Clinton-Trump, the Dudnamic Duo who keep on giving, and so far that is what we are seeing.

  21. Be Rational

    “… no apparent effect of the media campaign …”

    We are seeing the effect of having no media campaign.

    Had the GJ/WW campaign followed the media plan layed out for them, they would by now be over 15% at a minimum, more likely over 20% in the polls.

    The media saw that GJ/WW had no strategy. They kept asking – at nearly every interview …

    “What are you doing to get up to 15% in the polls.”

    Johnson always deflected to talk about how he’s fiscally conservative, socially inclusive and has a non-interventionist foreign policy, but he avoided answering. He didn’t wan to answer the question since the honest answer was:

    “Not a damn thing.”

  22. George Phillies

    Had they followed any of several plans, other than funding their campaign operation, they might have done well. However, as was obvious from the 2012 campaign, that was not going to happen, at not in a timely way.

  23. Anthony Dlugos

    Gotta laugh at a bunch of keyboard warriors explaining how Johnson-Weld shoulda run their campaign.

    It’s like listening to a fantasy football “manager” explain how an NFL team
    should be constructed.

  24. Joseph Buchman Post author

    George Phillies @ September 2, 2016 at 15:08

    “Joe: “so no apparent effect of the media campaign).”

    Media Campaign?

    EXACTLY. (I went back and deleted the word “media” – no apparent effect of the campaign (and SuperPac efforts as well).


  25. Joseph Buchman Post author

    Anthony Dlugos @ September 2, 2016 at 16:00

    “Gotta laugh at a bunch of keyboard warriors explaining how Johnson-Weld shoulda run their campaign. It’s like listening to a fantasy football “manager” explain how an NFL team should be constructed.”

    You create a team where, instead of paying for top talent, the vast majority of the funds your team raises and spends go to “consultants,” and I’ll take the bet (even though I’ve never played fantasy football).

  26. A Steady Decline

    Rasmussen Reports shows Johnson slipping to 7 percent after polling 9 percent during each of the previous two weeks while Reuters, which had the Libertarian candidate previously polling at 7 percent among likely voters, now has the Libertarian candidate falling to 6 percent nationally.

    Meanwhile, Public Policy Polling (PPP) continues to show no improvement for the increasingly invisible Johnson-Weld ticket, placing their support at 6 percent nationally — the same exact figure as in late July.

    Talk about a missed opportunity.

  27. José C

    Be Rational: I agree with you. Gary Johnson should have started airing national television commercials in August. In 1980 the Ed Clark campaign started airing ED Clark for President commercials nationally in August. This has been a missed opportunity by Johnson / Weld.

  28. robert capozzi

    AD, BR believes that GJ and WW should have loaned the campaign money. Personally, I find that an unreasonable expectation, but BR can be a very insistent sort.

  29. George Phillies

    RC: By Libertarian standards, the campaign has had a respectable amount of money. They even had money left over that they could have spent on advertising in July and perhaps June. I do not believe it would have been reasonable to expect Johnson to have lent that sort of money; I am less sure about Weld.

  30. Anthony Dlugos

    Jeez. They’re worth more money than me, I can assure you, but how much can they be worth altogether? $20 million? They can make one commercial buy and be flat broke, lol.

  31. Gene Berkman

    Gary Johnson probably will not get the 15% needed to get into the CPD debates. But name any previous Libertarian candidate for President who has shown up in polls with as much as 12%. Or as much as 6%.

    OK, I will make it easy. Name any previous Libertarian candidate for President who was listed in any poll other than an internet poll.

  32. Steven Wilson

    Be careful what you wish for.

    Johnson and Weld have baggage that the Clinton people will use if he they are “seen” as a factor. Trump is too immature and an amateur to take advantage of it. His team is also in constant flux which makes strategizing a moot point.

    Let the first debate take place with just the two of them. Let Americans witness their choice plateau. If the first debate becomes ugly or overtly scripted the viewers may poll differently for the remaining debates in desperation or protest of the major parties.

    It may seem back door, but instead of fighting for Johnson to get on stage the LP should cheer for a Clinton vs Trump grand marque performance. It may be the juice that Johnson needs later on.

    It would also help his cause if he would use his money for marketing rather than labor (consultants and staff). TV ads in October nationwide and radio ads in Florida, New Mexico, and California should be on the priority list.

  33. George Dance

    I’ve been resisting the urge to play armchair quarterback, but I’m only human, so…

    If Johnson / Weld do not qualify for the first debate, they should spend whatever they can afford buying ads to run on it. Clark did that (but only in Alaska, which was all he could afford). More recently, Sarvis did it in Virginia.

  34. George Dance

    “I’m getting VOTE FOR GOV. GARY JOHNSON ads on DRUDGE REPORT now, anyone else?”

    Excellent. I was reading just this week about the Drudge blackout of the Johnson campaign. That may change things.

  35. Be Rational

    The Johnson campaign raised plenty of funds -according to the financial reports provided by GP here on IPR – to have started TV advertising in May in target states, and to have run a continuing campaign, expanding each month thereafter – on major network broadcast TV – starting with five or six target states and gradually increasing the number of states and the dollar amounts.

    GJ would not have needed to lend or donate to his own campaign. Although, a serious LP candidate in many cases should donate or at least lend money to his or her campaign to show that they are serious and to get things moving at the outset.

  36. robert capozzi

    I feel your pain, BR. If only the world listened to you, it’d be a much better place. 😉

  37. robert capozzi

    fyi, I saw during a MORNING JOE this week, several of the regulars seemed to agree that DJT’s best move would be to insist that GJ be in the debates. The reasoning went something like: A serious GJ showing would knock both HRC and DJT well below the 50% threshold.

    Interesting idea, I say.

  38. Anthony Dlugos


    Makes sense, but the question is…why would Clinton accept it? Unless she can somehow be shamed into it.

    It clear that her strategy for some time now has been to slow play until she gets to the White House.

  39. George Phillies

    In my opinion, Clinton is a greater need of getting Johnson into the debates and schlonging him, rather than Trump needing to do so.

  40. Anthony Dlugos

    But as long as she is comfortably in the lead, I see no reason why she’d want to throw in a possible wild card.

    Unless you don’t believe the polls or believe they are going to tighten greatly.

  41. Jill Pyeatt

    I actually think it’s possible there won’t be debates. Hillary doesn’t want to debate any more than Trump does. There are a few possibilities that would allow for them not to. For example, Hillary disappeared for 20 minutes during one of her debates this spring. Why? Is it possible she does have a health issue? Plus, Trump says he won’t debate if either Trump or Stein are allowed in. That could conceivably shut everything down.

  42. Anthony Dlugos

    Good point, Jill, except for the fact that ducking debates entirely might be bad for both of them. Plus, both their teams can jerry-rig the rules to the point where they are a series of back and forth shibboleths and almost no risk.

  43. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    robert capozzi: I feel your pain, BR. If only the world listened to you, it’d be a much better place. ?

    I understand, Robert. You can’t refute BR with substantive facts, so you must resort to vapid sarcasm.

  44. George Phillies

    There are a vast supply of polls, tending to show that Trump is closing, and that she loses perhaps more votes to Johnson than Trump does.

    However, declining to debate will probably prove to be politically disadvantageous.

  45. robert capozzi

    Teeth, no, I can’t refute BR. Then again, nor can s/he refute TeamGuv’s approach, since s/he doesn’t have enough information about their strategy, at least not enough for me and I would think anyone who has an unbiased perspective.

    Are staff costs too high? I don’t know, nor does BR. Maybe the campaign should be all-volunteer, but that assumes that professionalism has no value. In my experience, it DOES have value.

    Personally, I find Monday morning quarterbacks to not be reliable sources of information or insight.

  46. Be Rational

    It isn’t Monday morning. It’s the middle of the game.

    … and unbiased observers with campaign training and experience do know that staff costs are way too high and advertising should be the bulk of the expenditures. Of course, some people can’t see the facts when they are right out in front of them, and will remain clueless long after the game is over.

    The media knows – as posted above – and other experts also know – as posted above – that the campaign is not being run properly and as a result the national broadcast news media doesn’t cover Johnson, making his free media campaign a failure, as he garners a tiny fraction of the needed coverage that he would be getting if he advertised with his money, targeting states and CDs to win EVs.

    Even the Ds and Rs have limited budgets. They have to target key states. So, it’s easy to see that when your budget is even more limited, you have to have better targeting with a developed strategy. The media can see that Johnson has none. They’ve asked him repeatedly what his plans are and Johnson has repeatedly ducked the question. So, no national news coverage and 70% of the voters don’t know he exists.

    Johnson and Weld are good candidates. The year and the public dissatisfaction with Trump and Clinton make this an ideal opportunity. It’s a failed campaign due to bad management. Period.

    The Monday morning quaterbacks will come out after November 8th.

  47. robert capozzi

    BR, your certainty based on apparently highly limited information never ceases to astound me.

  48. Jill Pyeatt

    Dr. Phillies said: “However, declining to debate will probably prove to be politically disadvantageous.”

    How so? What will likely happen if Trump and Hillary debate is that they’ll both just succumb to insulting each other, although Hillary seems to be a little bit more sophisticated in her name-calling. It seems like every time one of them makes a speech lately, they say something incredibly stupid. They’re both clearly tiring of the whole thing. I think they’d both jump at a chance not to have to be in the others’ presence.

  49. George Phillies

    RC asks

    “Are staff costs too high? ”

    The staff costs are a matter of public record. And then — to judge from remarks at the last LNC meeting — they added another 35 staff, who according to my sources were paid for the first time in August.

    “Win EVs” is a bad strategy, except perhaps in one of the Maine or Nebraska districts if polling showed a fluke result. Believing that you are going to carry Utah and New Mexico, and have a good chance at Colorado and Washington and Oregon, will likely not cause you to win any of those states.

  50. Anthony Dlugos


    You too?

    I got a hankering to ask him about how far out on the yield curve I should be putting by T-bill money.

  51. George Phillies

    Jill, One of them will refuse, and then the other will not, and pound the first one for being a coward.

  52. George Phillies

    Johnson advertising has started. AdWords, I think. It leads to a web page in which I did find the word “Libertarian” way down at the bottom. Not in a sentence, leaving you to wonder if JOhnson and Weld are or are not Libertarians.

  53. robert capozzi

    gp: The staff costs are a matter of public record.

    me: I didn’t say otherwise. I asked whether they are “too high”? I don’t know how to answer that question. Do you?

  54. dL

    “Then again, nor can s/he refute TeamGuv’s approach, since s/he doesn’t have enough information about their strategy, at least not enough for me and I would think anyone who has an unbiased perspective.”

    The same strategy r.capozzi invents in his head whenever he imagines himself being elected president. Pretty easy to make an unbiased assessment of make believe.

  55. robert capozzi

    dL, check your premises. I don’t imagine myself being president, I assure you.

    I’m sensing some form of hostility from you. True? You know you only hurt yourself with hostility, yes?

  56. dL

    “I’m sensing some form of hostility from you. True? You know you only hurt yourself with hostility, yes?”

    mockery, not hostility. And its tit for tat…

  57. Be Rational


    The information is not limited. Neither is the knowledge or strategy experience to know what works, it is not limited but rather is known by many individuals.

    However, it is not known or understood by you. That’s OK. It’s nice that you admit your ignorance, but don’t project your inabilities and weaknesses on others.

  58. Be Rational

    The strategy of targeting EVs is the only workable strategy on our limited budget. We do not have the funds to go nationwide.

    However, the media covers the horserace. They want some reason to cover the campaign. Third parties have carried states in the past – George Wallace for example. If we target, we raise that possibility, earning media coverage by entering the race and threatening to alter outcomes in a drastic way – not as a spoiler by shifting the outcome in one state by winning 2%, but as a victor carrying one or more states or one CD. So, we will earn media coverage as we’ve never seen bofore. We target and use leverage to earn free nationwide coverage on the evening news, multiplying the value of our resources.

    Targeting for earned media is a well known and often used strategy for advertising of all kinds, not just political. There are many ways of targeting and earning free media – combined advertising and PR campaigns are used every day in the US for businesses and individuals to leverage advertising dollars with free media.

    Eventually, the LP needs a beachhead in the political war. The Ds and Rs each have “their” states where they are strong and usually win. We need to focus on states and regions to create our “own” states where we are strong and can win. We should be targeting these states – seven to begin with – with broadcast TV advertising on the major networks in these states in every election cycle

    There are two promising target regions plus one state at this time:

    New England, especially ME, NH and VT, (but we need to include a large portion of MA and a bit of RI and CT and even a bit of upstate NY for support and overlap.)

    A western region of smal states: MT, WY and ID are also good long-term targets, (but we could expand to NM, CO, UT, AZ and NV if there is a long-term Gary Johnson effect, adequate funds and hightened public interest. We should also keep an eye on ND, SD, NE, and IA as possibilities.)

    AK is the stand-alone state that should be on any long-term target list.

    The first seven: AK, ME, NH, VT, MT, WY, ID are all small with low cost media, lower cost campaigns for state rep and state senate, libertarian leanings and an independent streak that make these the best opportunities for establishing a base for the LP.

  59. robert capozzi

    Br: The information is not limited. Neither is the knowledge or strategy experience to know what works, it is not limited but rather is known by many individuals.

    Me: That’s quite a statement, BR. Are you Ed Rollins? Perhaps Joe Hunter, secretly venting?

    One of us is not paying attention. Could be me, true. However, I think the Austrians have it more or less right, that all human action is within the context of limited information. Human don’t do omniscience, including, I dare say, Be Rational.

    What strategy GJ’s inner circle considered probably a month before the LPCon, I certainly don’t know. You might if you are Joe Hunter or someone like him…an insider venting. We don’t know what considerations they considered as the campaign unfolded…should we start advertising now, or should we hire people to execute ground-game functions.

    For me to even begin to form an opinion, I’d want this sort of information.

    You may have some information about state-level L campaigns in ME, and you may have some probably micro-level ad agency experience. But unless you have a LOT more details about the inner workings of TeamGov, by all indications you are leaping to conclusions based on spotty information.

    I wonder: In your life, have you ever leaped to a conclusion, only to realize that you didn’t have enough information and, it turned out, your conclusion was incorrect?

  60. robert capozzi


    If your answer is No, BR, I really do apologize. That would make you the rarest of individuals. The Second Coming, perhaps?

  61. Be Rational


    We don’t need to know what strategies the GJ campaign may have considered, just the one they have chosen – one that is recognized by advertising experts and the media as a failed strategy. The Trump campaign is facing the same criticism from the experts – but I don’t care about Trump, so no point in belaboring that.

    The important point is that advertising is a necessary, though not sufficient, condition for success for any reasonably forseeable LP POTUS candidate now and in the future and, more specifically, in the case of a candidate like Johnson. They chose not to advertise as recommended to them in advance. They chose a failed strategy – failed from the moment it was chosen because it excluded the needed advertising. We don’t need to know what they considered, what they rejectedm, or why. We know what they had to do to succeed and that they didn’t do those things, guaranteeing failure.

    There were several windows of opportunity open to the campaign to advertise – they have missed them all, save the currently quickly passing time period – which being late requires a much greater expenditure of cash.

    All indications are that they have chosen to miss this window as well.

    Radio advertising is not sufficient, and only serves to fill in nitches at the POTUS level. This low budget campaign on radio by the GJ campaign is way too little, way too late, on the wrong medium.

    Likewise, (despite the furvor of it’s ardent advocates on IPR, none of whom have the least modicum of actual experience) the reach of Internet advertising is still far short of what is needed for a serious POTUS campaign: one that claims the goal of reaching 15% in the polls among likely voters, and having a shot at winning, both of which were possible in May, and even more possible immediately following the nomination.

    Omniscience is unnecessary.

    The GJ campaign has revealed their strategy through their actions. What works is already known by experts. To avoid any possibility of being accused of Monday morning quarterbacking, I layed out in advance what they needed to do. I called the winning plays before they announced their losing plays by executing them. They didn’t do any of the things that actually succeed. And, they have failed when success – at least the goal of reaching 15% to be invited to the debates, in this election year with two hated major party candidates – was actually quite easily obtained.

    Actually winning, even if included in the debates, was a very unlikely outcome, but definitely possible. Without a debate appearance, nearly impossible. Winning outright with 270 was and remains MORE likely than winning in the House should no one get to 270.

    As the primary season wraps up, the public locks in on their choices among the reamaining candidates. They become less likely to change. By the time of the major party conventions, even more voters have locked in. By Labor Day, nearly all. Early voting starts shortly thereafter in many staes. You have to reach the voters early, during the windows when they are watching.

    History shows that a three way race can be won in one of two ways by a third party or independent in our plurality system:
    * In one scenario, the third party or Ind. supplants one of the major parties – as suggested by my old professor in Paris, Maurice Duverger – so that there is still a two-way race in the end. The rejected major party falls to minor party levels in such an election. As an example, we’ve seen this play out in statewide races in VT with Bernie Sanders.
    * Under a second scenario, the third and even fourth candidate splits up the vote more evenly, despite Monsieur Duverger’s law, so that the third party or Ind. candiate wins and the race remains competitive for all, even in our plurality system. Many examples of this can be found, including statewide races in ME and in GB.

    TV advertising – early – on major network broadcast TV in targeted states – is the only path open to an LP POTUS candidate who wants to earn significant coverage by the free media on the nationwide evening news where it counts and have a shot at 15% in the polls in time for the debates.

    When a campaign, such as the GJ campaign, fails to avail itself of it’s resources – as proven by the financial reports, resources adequate to execute a workable targeted TV advertising program – they forego the ony path open to them and guarantee their failure.

    GJ’s campaign is a victim of failed campaign management.

  62. Be Rational

    According to their financial reports, they have raised enough money to do the recommended TV advertising. In fact, they raised more than I had proposed spending in my initial target states allowing for an expanded advertising plan, which I also layed out for them and here on IPR.

  63. Robert capozzi

    AD, BR says he has been PROVWN correct. IOWA, there is no discussion….he’s right, and that’s all there is to it! 😉

  64. Anthony Dlugos


    I have no idea of the amount of money that would have been required to be spent on t.v. advertising as far out as he is suggesting in order to move the polling needles on 3rd party candidates like Johnson-Weld in order to get to 15% and into the debates.

    What I can say is that the effects of t.v. ads, waning it is, is notoriously short-lived. That’s if people aren’t just fast forwarding through them from the get go. Targeted t.v. ads in certain states would have completely wasted. We are talking about a paradigm-shifting requirement: getting polled Americans to show support for a 3rd party candidate. This would have been more difficult than getting people off Coke&Pepsi. It would have required continuous, national t.v. advertising, and orders of magnitude more money than the campaign has. Even then, it would have been almost certain to fail, just ask Jeb Bush.

  65. Chuck Moulton

    Robert Capozzi wrote:

    Are staff costs too high?


    Glad I could clear that up for you. You’re welcome.

    Robert Capozzi wrote:

    Maybe the campaign should be all-volunteer, but that assumes that professionalism has no value. In my experience, it DOES have value.

    Fallacy of the excluded middle (false dilemna).

    Is it good to have some professional staffers? Yes.

    Are some of Johnson’s staffers worth what they are paid (more productive than their salaries)? Yes.

    Are some of his staffers collecting outrageous amounts with no relation at all to what they contribute to the campaign? Yes.

    Would some staffers still fail a cost/benefit analysis even if they worked pro bono because they are making horrible decisions doing irreparable damage to the presidential campaign and the LP brand? Yes.

    We don’t need to wait for omniscience to evaluate decisions. Even with fuzzy information, it is usually a reasonable assumption that what has worked for many years and is suggested by experts with a track record of success for many years is likely to stay a good idea. Conversely, even with fuzzy information, it is usually a reasonable assumption that what has not worked for many years and is roundly panned by experts with a track record of success for many years is likely to remain a bad idea.

  66. George Phillies

    You know there is actual work on the effects of political advertising, done by real political experts. The most important thing to understand about voters is that most of them have already made up their minds. One or more decades ago.

    What Karl Rove worked out is: There is a group of people in the middle* whose minds can be changed. They were worth several percent of the vote. Several is like three. No, the purpose of advertising is to terrify you own supporters, so that they show up in the polling places and vote. Secondarily, you can try to demoralize opposing voters, so they do not show up, but that approach seems not to work very well– it requires that people pay attention to what the other side is saying. You can also lure people in your direction. The Reagan 1984 campaign did that with allusions to a shining city on a hill.

    You cannot move a significant fraction of the electorate, beyond your own voting base, by advertising, because political advertising is basically not facing the same challenge that the national campaign to replace Coke with Pepsi is. It’s closer to converting people to your religion by TV advertising. Even if you had the money, it’s not going to work.

    The important virtue of internet advertising, which the boob tube cannot duplicate, is that it generates responses. It gives you names of people and location information so that they can be individually contacted and recruited to the libertarian movement.

    If Be Rationale’s strategy worked, Jeb Bush would have won every primary by a crushing margin Some of you may remember Jeb? the invincible. Having said that, the current strategy is even less useful than Be Ratioanl’s strategy would have been, as he correctly stated.

    *in a four candidate race, the middle is the middle of some quadrilateral)

  67. Anthony Dlugos

    I don’t want to sound like I have the answer as to how we could have gotten Johnson-Weld into the debates. The reality is there is no answer. The reality is that we did everything we could do:

    1) get 50 state ballot access, or something pretty close to it.

    2) nominate the most qualified candidates.

    3) Johnson and Weld avail themselves of every possible opportunity to appear in the MSM.

    The rest is up to the American people getting upset enough with the duopoly choices to start demanding an alternative en masse. In that respect, I’m in absolute 100% agreement with Mr. Phillies: its an impossible task; its like trying to convert people to our religion.

    If you want to get upset about how much money is being paid to consultants/advisers, knock yourself out. Maybe you’re even right about that. Me, I don’t really care if some guy is getting a few grand to offer some “advice.”

  68. George Phillies

    Anthony, if it were a few grand it would be a non-issue. However, you are omitting some of the trailing zeros.

    A (hypothetical) campaign to get into the debates (i) would have little effect even if it worked, especially with these candidates, (ii) was not going to work, and (iii) would have had no long-term political effect , no matter what. ‘Get into the debates’ was a wrong strategy from the beginning.

  69. Just Some Random Guy

    @ George Phillies

    If Be Rationale’s strategy worked, Jeb Bush would have won every primary by a crushing margin Some of you may remember Jeb? the invincible.

    A key difference, though, is that everyone knew who Jeb Bush was. A lot of people have no clue who Gary Johnson is, and some of the people who do don’t know him as any more than ‘some third party candidate’ and strong advertising would be a way to help correct that. Knowing a candidate won’t make you vote for them (as Jeb Bush showed) but you need to know who a candidate is to vote for them in the first place.

  70. Just Some Random Guy

    Blargh, forgot to close the italics. Here, I’ll try again:

    @ George Phillies

    If Be Rationale’s strategy worked, Jeb Bush would have won every primary by a crushing margin Some of you may remember Jeb? the invincible.

    A key difference, though, is that everyone knew who Jeb Bush was. A lot of people have no clue who Gary Johnson is, and some of the people who do don’t know him as any more than ‘some third party candidate’ and strong advertising would be a way to help correct that. Knowing a candidate won’t make you vote for them (as Jeb Bush showed) but you need to know who a candidate is to vote for them in the first place.

  71. dL

    “The rest is up to the American people getting upset enough with the duopoly choices to start demanding an alternative en masse. In that respect, I’m in absolute 100% agreement with Mr. Phillies: its an impossible task; its like trying to convert people to our religion.”

    It’s an impossible task if the alternative is merely a variation of the major party. In this case, 2012 Mitt Romney. You know, if the 3rd party goes around calling itself the true major party candidate, as in:we are the true republicans, the true conservatives. As in: no to libertarian purity, but hell yeah to republican/conservative purity.

    To present an alternative, you first have to be an actual alternative. While it is not likely, it is not impossible for a sufficiently resourced campaign to win a plurality even if the majority do not agree w/ your all your positions. They key factor is major issue resonation. Middle of the road centrism like “credible”,”the sane one”, “the grown-up one” has not once ever worked or been a factor in the history of american third-party politics or political realignment. That David Boaz/Cato garbage is self-serving to Cato’s motives to capturing more influence within the GOP as a think tank.

  72. Anthony Dlugos


    Obviously, I don’t agree with you; I wouldn’t have flown down to Orlando to support Johnson-Weld if I did.

    It’s also unlikely we are going to change each other’s opinion, so we’ll have to agree to disagree.

  73. Anthony Dlugos


    I think you’re flat out wrong to think the great mass of voters are going to take a flyer on the most powerful offense on the planet with an unknown quantity promising the sort of drastic change you are implying. Variation on the major parties (I’ll use your terminology even though I disagree with the implication), is probably as “extreme” a change as said great mass of voters are willing to accept. You say middle of the road centrism (again, I’ll use your terminology even though I disagree) has not worked, but previous third party attempts at the presidency in this country, successful or not, have been born of existing parties, not some inexperienced political neophyte with merely a philosophy behind them.

    Furthermore, as I have posted elsewhere, we have to be considering the message we’re sending to the voters; they are not going to turn over what would be essentially a managed bankruptcy to just anyone. The irony is that the plan for a Libertarian presidency pretty much assures us that the first Libertarian president is going to be the centrist type you despise. Who do you think the voters are going to trust with a plan of significant cuts to the federal leviathan? A 35-year old blogger? A doctor with no elective office experience (R.I.P)? A suspect in a murder with stripper/drug videos and also no elective office experience? An anarchist radio talk show host, also with no elective office experience? Does this seem credible to you? Or a pair of governors? Stop thinking of the message each of these candidates may have sent and think which PERSON the American voters might believe could handle such a gargantuan task.

  74. robert capozzi

    ad: If you want to get upset about how much money is being paid to consultants/advisers, knock yourself out. Maybe you’re even right about that. Me, I don’t really care if some guy is getting a few grand to offer some “advice.”

    me: Yup. If we did the math, we’d probably find the ticket finances simply didn’t allow for a whole lot of wiggle room ASSUMING some pros were involved. People with axes to grind will often cherry-pick data to make their case, or at least make it sound like their critiques are 100% spot on. Instead of a coherent, constructive case, we hear piecemeal hit-and-run, unsubstantiated assertions. BR claims he has the case, yet s/he does not produce it for assessment by the assembled.

    It exhausts me.

  75. Anthony Dlugos


    It exhausts me too.

    On the other hand, the Cherry Pickers you are referring to are only a factor because the LP is still small potatoes. If the party ever threatened major party status, threatened to assume the levers of power at some level, said Cherry Pickers you are talking about are gonna be shown the door, if they don’t just leave voluntarily (which I assume most of them will).

    We both know people experienced in government, experienced in federal budgeting, experience in public policy, political communications, et al, are not going to sit around whilst some keyboard warriors from Facebook explain to them how to apply libertarian philosophy to governance. The whole idea is laughable.

    Luckily, I don’t think there will be much of a kerfuffle. If its anything like the local music scene here in Cleveland (and I think it is), the Cherry Picker Caucus will leave the concert hall once everyone realizes how good the band is and it gets popular, find an an even smaller hall with an even less known band, and cry and moan about the sellouts at the arena.

    It keeps them alive.

  76. dL

    “I think you’re flat out wrong to think the great mass of voters are going to take a flyer on the most powerful offense on the planet…

    Well, it is the most powerful moral offense on the planet. By any objective, international moral standard, american presidents are war criminals. Even though I realize it’s a typo on your part(I suppose you meant “office”), it nonetheless illustrates the objectionable nature of your position from a libertarian perspective. You are saying the exact same thing even if taken literally as written. You yield too much deferential respect to something that needs to be radically reformed.

  77. Be Rational

    Class time:

    * The idea that advertising only moves a small percentage is only correct when dealing with already saturated elections. When dealing with an unknown, advertising is an absolute necessity. The public will not buy something if they don’t know it exists. They public will not vote for a candidate they’ve never heard of.

    * The majority of voters WILL consider a third party or independent if they become well known early enough – before the end of the D and R primaries. The overwhelming majority of voters are NOT yellow-dog Ds or recalcitrant Rs. Ross Perot would have been elected – he was leading in the polls in the summer of 1992 – if he hadn’t dropped out, thereby proving to the public that he was crazy. But he still got 19% when dropping back in as a discredited crazy candidate. His voters by that time had locked in.

    Every election cycle is new. The locked in generational voters comprise a significant but very small portion of the electorate. It can be overcome.

    * Many individuals have negatives that make them unelectable no matter how much advertising or other promotion you may do. Jeb Bush for POTUS in 2016 was one such candidate. His mother said the same before he ran. She recognized that the American people didn’t want any more Bushes. He lost in the R primaries because he was a Bush. He had lost before he announced. If not Trump, nearly anyone else would have crushed him. But, he did suck up the resources needed for someone else to challenge Trump.

    * Some office holders (on the statewide and local level) are so popular and well known that they need no advertising: power of being an incumbant office holder: Senator William Proxmire was a good example: He was always campaigning. He would begin by shaking hands at events the day after being elected and continue for six years through the next election. Nearly everyone had met him, respected him, admired him.

    * For everyone else, winning POTUS is impossible without major network broadcast TV advertising. As stated above for those who can read, it is a necessary but not sufficient condition.

    * Other than Gary Johnson, the LP POTUS nomination candidates were all of the unelectable category. $200,000,000 would leave them – or GP for that matter – at less than 2%. One of the greatest handicaps the LP faces is that so many individuals with none of the qualities required of an acceptable candidate all want to be the hero that wins first.

    * $200,000,000 spent on major network broadcast TV in 30 states would have put Johnson, Libertarian for President in the White House in this election year. With a different campaign manager running targeted TV from the pre-convention window onward, there would have been a snowball effect giving Johnson the chance he needed to raise the funds and reach the 70% who still haven’t heard of him.

    * No party in the US can afford to go national. Every party has to target key states. The Ds and Rs target key states. For smaller parties this is even more essential. No third party will ever succeed without targeting key states; it’s impossible both in practice and in theory.

    * Campaign spending on consultants and mangement is relative. Advertising has to come first and comprise the bulk of expenditures. $50k to $100k per month for candidate travel expenses for media avails and appearances followed by 80% for TV advertising buys, 10% for ad creation and 10% for management and operations would have been a reasonable ballpark mix for a post convention budget.

    * Multi-billion-dollar corporations can pay tens of millions of dollars per year to their CEOs and they may be worth it. But those same executives are worth almost nothing in cash compensation to a new start up with no funds. They either forgo their salaries for shares, work for less, or find another job. Overpaying managers will kill a new small business, especially those not destined to be large. The same principle applies to campaign managers and start up campaigns. The management and office expenditure level has to be kept to a minimum, relative and growing as needed with the size of the campaign.

  78. Be Rational

    The National LP should also be dedicating a significant portion of its budget to advertising and outreach instead of office and staff. They need to target key states – beginning with the first seven long-term targets previously identifieid for major network TV runs annually.

    State LP groups need to orgainize country groups in every county for electoral GOTV efforts and to include every member and activist in local outreach on the country level. The state LPs should also be advertising as they grow, targeting key areas within each state.

    The LP should make -as they did in the early 90s – generic LP branding TV and radio spots ready to run on broadcast TV and radio, for state LP groups to utilize, eliminating the need for ad creation expenses.

  79. robert capozzi

    BR, thanks for sharing. You have much knowledge and wisdom.

    It’s not a bad construct to say, with $200MM > GJ prez. Feels possible.

    Unfortunately, the campaign doesn’t have anywhere close to that. What they had in June and whether spending might have been reallocated in June in an alternative universe, that’s where your narrative goes off the rails for me.

    Ads in certain remote, small markets building into a bonfire of name ID might have worked, but it might not. It’s never been done at this level. So it is here that I think you get carried away with your fantasy.

    As an observer with highly limited information, I think the campaign under-spent in April. Not sure what it’s called, but they probably could have spent a LOT more in candidate prep. Sitting with GJ, developing a message, working on his speaking skills, molding him into a prime-time player…that strikes me as the most important thing. When he got all the free media, he could have been a far more compelling figure.

    First things first.

  80. Be Rational


    I haven’t gotten in the the heavy critique of Gary Johnson the candidate, because it didn’t seem productive. He is who he is – a good honest person, actually – and not a bad candidate. I think he’s more radical in his heart than in his presentation, but no NAPster. He is attempting to strike the right moderate tone to actually move the country in a libertarian direction – win or lose.

    Even a radical, anarchist NAPster should recognize that a wild-eyed ranting POTUS candidate will drive even their fellow LP radicals away. But we saw at the convention and here on IPR that the emotional release from getting in the face of the ememy is more satisfying to many individuals than actually making progress toward a freer world.

    Yes, a lot of training, practice and coaching could have helped Gary with his style, word choice and presentation – and they had nearly 4 years since 2012, during which time he seems to have been considering a second run, to prepare. Still, he is who he is. So, I’ve accepted that and have only been concerned with what the campaign should do and could have done with the candidate we had and with the resources he brought with him as of May 2016.


    We cannot win without targeting a limited number of states. The Ds and Rs cannot win without targeting a limited number of states.

    Imagine starting a new hamburger chain with, of course, one location, then two then three … Do you advertise nationwide or just in your target markets where you’ve opened your restaurants? In fact, you wouldn’t open one in each of 50 states, but instead you would focus on one market at a time with several locations within each market area.

    The LP needs to think the same way. Sure we have 50 state parties, but we cannot build them up simultaneously; try shooting an arrow sideways through the air. We need to plan long-term, focusing our resources on a few small population states that offer the best opportunity: the best states to begin with at the present time are: AK, ME, NH, VT, MT, WY, ID.

  81. Anthony Dlugos

    Targeting a limited number of states would be a waste of time. Presidential elections are national contests, despite constant pundit blathering about battleground states. swing states, etc. In short, if Governor Johnson became popular enough to win, say, Utah, he’d be popular enough to win the electoral college. It may make the task seem easier to convince ourselves we can target certain states as a route to becoming nationally popular, but the route to becoming nationally popular is to become nationally popular. If you’ve sold the teetotaling family man Utahan, you’ve sold the bisexual swinging Greenwich Village New Yorker.

    1. Swing-state polls are the key to predicting the winner.
    In fact, the opposite is true, especially this far from November. Generally, elections are determined by a “uniform swing.” That is, if the Republican candidate does a little better overall, then he’s going to do a little better in close states such as Ohio and Nevada, too. So even though the candidates will spend most of their time and money in the states they expect to matter most, it won’t make much difference.

    Any candidate who wins the popular vote by at least three percentage points is certain to win the electoral college, and any candidate who wins the popular vote by as much as a full percentage point is overwhelmingly likely to win the electoral college. So the best way to follow the election is to read the national polling averages. National polls have a key advantage: There are a lot more of them, so we’re less likely to be fooled by the occasional outlier. And the frequency of national polls, conducted by the same handful of firms, means informed readers can catch any obvious partisan tilts in the results and interpret them accordingly.

    Granted, political junkies like me won’t be able to stop themselves from peeking at what the Des Moines Register thinks is happening in the Hawkeye State. But if we’re smart, we’ll look at the national polls to find out what’s really going on.”

    5. Republicans can’t win without Ohio.
    The United States has national elections, and what matters almost every time is the national results. Yes, a candidate must find 270 electoral votes in order to win. But in most years, the electoral college margin will be much larger than the popular vote difference. And the rare times, such as in 2000, when the popular vote is very close, it’s not possible to guess in advance which states will be the one or two that really make a difference. So the campaigns will put their resources into those states they expect to be close, because it certainly doesn’t hurt, but our elections are much more national than our obsession with swing states implies.



  82. Be Rational

    The road to victory for a 3rd party will not look like what you see with two parties in the popular vote vs. the elctoral vote.

    The last 3rd candidate to carry states was George Wallace. He carried 5 states in his “region,” some of his target states 45 electoral votes in AR, LA, MS, AL, GA (plus one faithless elector making 46 EV total) while taking only 13% of the vote nationwide. He came close to throwing the election to the House.

    Wallace got just over: 5% in NY, ND, IA; 4% in SD, MN; 3% VT, MA, MN; less than 2% in ME.

    Wallace won with 38% in AR, 42% in GA, 48% in LA, 63% in MS, and 65% in AL.

    Wallace came close to tipping the election into the House by denying 270 to Richard Nixon by reducing his 301 EV total. Wallace finished a close second with: 34% in TN, 31% in NC and 32% in SC (total = 31 EV) and a close third in FL with 28% (14EV).

    Wallace was a one man movement. He was shot while campaigning in 1972 and his movement faded away after the 72 election.


    The LP can win target states while at a fairly low total nationwide. We can win state rep, state senate, US House and Senate and Governorships in our strongest states through long-term targeting, on the way to winning POTUS and control of the House and Senate.

    We will never win nationwide all at once.

    We will win through targeting and building our own base of secure states.

  83. robert capozzi

    BR, targeting has many benefits. However, the prez campaign is a national one. Targeting can be done many ways, and not necessarily regionally. You might target psycho-demographically, for ex. Age groups. Military, etc.

  84. Be Rational

    RC, Yes, you can target many ways. And if you have enough money to win races, you would do that. But, we are short of funds and need to leverage our resources.

    The media cares very little about issues and a lot about the horserace in most elections at most levels. The media will give us free coverage if we are in the horserace or if we are likely to affect the outcome. This happens most in a POTUS race when we are threatening to win in one or more states. So, we need to target states and regions. The free media we can earn by doing this far exceeds all of the paid media we could buy no matter which alternate targeting plan we may choose.

    The idea that we have to run nationwide as a third party is just silly.

    Perot got 19% of the vote and was much more popular, but he didn’t target anywhere and didn’t win any electoral votes. He also dropped out of the race and dropped back in, so his campaign was a failure in numerous ways.

    Wallace got 13% of the vote and carried 5 states. He was close in several others. He was a divisive racist, so he was unlikely to expand his support too far. But through targeting, had he been more palatable, he could have finished a distant third in the popular vote and still have been elected POTUS as a 3rd party candidate in the horserace.

    We need to think rationally and use the system as it exists: the Electoral College, the fact that POTUS is a matter of winning by state and that there is no national election, the possibility that no one can win in the EC sometimes, the fact that a small vote total can have a major impact and the fact that the media only cares about the horserace (which makes more exciting, interesting news, increases viewership and promotes careers of the reporters).


    It is instructive – and perhaps useful – to note that George Wallace at 13% would NOT have been invited to the debates, but he carried 5 states and won 46 Electoral Votes. !5% is too high for a debate invitation requirement. We should use that with the media to promote allowing Johnson in the debates at 10% and lowering the threshhold.

    But, of course, we undermine that argument by NOT targeting.

  85. robert capozzi

    BR, the devil’s in the details. Wallace targeted the obvious low-hanging fruit. Segregationism only played significantly in the South for fairly obvious reasons.

    Perot didn’t target probably because he had no particular regional appeal.

    GJ doesn’t either. The states you pick might be slightly more L in attitude, and maybe the media markets are more economical.

    Of course, it’s important to note that the water is under the bridge. For a range of reasons — most of which we can’t know — Nielson decided against the counsel of a shadowy pseudonym commenting on an obscure website. Perhaps in an alternative universe, BR becomes Nielson’s Morpheus, and by early September, GJ’s at 60% in the polls, following an assassination attempt by a crazed Rothbardian brandishing rebar and a machine gun. He jumped the rope line screaming “Taxation is theft! War is the health of the State!” 😉

  86. Be Rational

    Yes, Wallace had obvious states to target, but so did Perot and so do we. Of course, not everything is obvious to everyone. For example, for some people, math – even at high levels – is obvious, while others don’t get it at all. The same is true when it comes to understanding advertising and how to target voters to win elections.

  87. Robert Capozzi


    That said, I’ve long suggested that the cult challengers should consider grooming and targeting, say, one congressional seat. One of the BR-sanctified states might have the richest soil for such an experiment.

  88. Be Rational

    Just found this story with a link on the Open thread:

    “Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson plans to roll out television ads in some states this week as part of a post-Labor Day blitz aimed at ensuring the former New Mexico governor has strong enough poll numbers to be invited to the presidential debates.”

    “The Libertarian campaign has poured $3.8 million into the television ads set to run this week, as well as radio ads that have been airing in 15 states and on nationally syndicated talk radio. ”


    It’s a little late but a decent amount of money if they’re not wasting too much on radio. It also depends on the targeted states, small states can be moved with smaller advertising budgets.

    But, hopefully we’ll be able to see if this moves the needle a bit, plus if they can generate some last minute buzz in the media for free coverage on the news.

    Our best target states remain: AK, ME, NH, VT, MT, WY, ID for the LP in the long-term, but for this election NM, UT, CO, AZ are promising and so are MA, RI and a bit of CT .

    In this particular election, targeting should continue as we move toward November, based on real time polling, fundraising, reasonable expectations, and several other factors, such as: are we running to win, running to carry states and win EVs, running to hit 5% for Federal Funding, or running for ballot access in the future.

  89. Be Rational

    I don’t think we will ever obtain our best results by running a pure anarchist campaign. We should focus on appearing electable, reasonable and move toward liberty incrementally. I liked the Ed Clark campaign method. Johnson isn’t bad, but he needs a lot of work on presentation and speaking skills. Still, he seems real, honest, sincere and approachable – good qualities this year compared to Trump and Clinton.

  90. Be Rational

    By the way, it’s interesting that the best potential LP states were the worst for Wallace.

  91. Anthony Dlugos

    Now that 7:40am post I absolutely agree with.

    I can appreciate novel attempts at how to build the party, however, my Dubious Radar goes up when a Libertarian bases their suggestion on the premise that “3rd parties will win in a different manner than major parties,” or some variation thereof.

    It’s an election, and the voters are the same voters. There’s no reason to think the LP has to reinvent the wheel in order to maximize vote totals. Indeed, being that we are a 3rd party and thus involve some sort of paradigm shifting to get voters to consider us, I think a strong argument can be made for NOT reinventing the wheel.

    This is why I bristle at the idea of nominating someone for president other than the most qualified candidate; we already have a tough enough task as it is getting the voters to consider a 3rd party. So not only do we have that obstacle to deal with, we’re going to make it even harder by nominating an unqualified candidate and think the voters are gonna buy into the philosophy, something they DON’T do with major party candidates.

  92. robert capozzi

    br: small states can be moved with smaller advertising budgets.

    me: Except for one thing: They are small states. Media planning is part science and part art. How that’s allocated does require a certain amount of rigor in making tradeoffs, not grandiose repetition of pre-conceived notions.

    I suspect assumptions have to be made about political inclinations in each market, and that would need to be weighted by CPM (I recall that’s the term, though it may’ve change, it means cost per thousand) of gross impressions.

    The game is to surge to 15% in the short term. That may be very different from other objectives of other campaigns or product advertising. The Be Rational Agency was not engaged in this task, nor was McCann Erickson. NSON was. I trust they know what they are doing in media planning. They are GREAT IMO at image making and positioning. Their production values are superlative.

  93. Be Rational

    RC, Your comments remind me of the man in the song, “There’s a hole in the bucket.”
    At least they are advertising. To surge in the polls nationwide either requires at leat 10 times what the campaign has to spend OR it requires getting a lot free media on the major network news – the coverage that is still eluding the GJ campaign.

    Since they don’t have the cash, they have to earn the free media.
    The media primarily cares about the horserace.

    Speniding all the money in CA for example would be seen by the media (correctly) as a waste that wouldn’t change the race. So, there would be no reason to for additional coverage of the GJ campaign.

    Spening the money in target states that can be won with the kind of money the campaign has to spend DOES threaten to change the race – winning states and EVs.

    So, the media would have a good horserace reason to cover the GJ campaign – excitement and interest leading to increased viewership for their programs, if the GJ campaign targets states they can win – especially on a small budget
    Even if you don’t get this, the media does – it’s their business.

    NSON has not given any indication yet that they understand POTUS campaigns – especially the 3rd party permutations. At least they are buying TV spots now according to the news reports. They are spending enough money to have an effect … but ONLY if they are targeting in a way that will work. Radio is much less effective and cable TV is also much less effective. They still need major network broadcast TV, bracketing the news shows – early, morning, noon, evening and late – in smaller states – and in this campaign – states more likley to move toward GJ and WW. (News before entertainment type shows, depending on budget constraints.) The lists of best states specifically for this year I’ve provieded before. The NSON group did seem to have similar target lists at one point, according to other information here on IPR, so there is some hope.

    Using target states is expected by the news media. They get it. It is used by all professional campaigns. It works for the Ds and Rs. It worked for George Wallace. Perot foolishly didn’t target. At 19% of the vote he could have focused and won the Electoral Votes in targeted states.

    Even NSON is targeting in some manner, eventually we’ll find out where and how. I would be disappointed and surprised if they were targeting bigger states that they can’t expect to move on a small budget such as: CA, TX, NY, FL, IL, PA, OH. It’s also best to chose states that have shown they lean L in the past, which also means avoiding the George Wallace states.

    The leverage that comes from free media through targeting includes both financial leverage from the value of the free media that multiplies the value (cost) of the ads through free coverage, and time leverage by advertising early, allowing for more time for repeat media coverage, more fundraising opportunities, easier petitioning, reaching voters before they have decided on a candidate, and reaching voters before they’ve voted in early voting states. It’s already way too late for leverage from early advertising.

  94. George Phillies

    And now, a poll

    General Election: Trump vs. Clinton vs. Johnson vs. Stein CNN/ORC Clinton 43, Trump 45, Johnson 7, Stein 2

    This is one of the five polls that matters.

  95. Krzysztof Lesiak

    Johnson himself has admitted that only 30% of the country has any idea who he is. I would therefore say that the 7% figure would seem to be relatively close to reality – at least at this point in time. When you factor in a tightening election, Johnson’s upcoming exclusion from the debates and Wasted Vote Syndrome, that number is going to drop to 3%, maximum, IMO.

  96. Anthony Dlugos

    Wanna bet, Mr. Lesiak?

    I’ll take “over 3%.”

    You get “under 3%.”

    Even though anything above 1% would set an LP record anyway, and anything above .5% would be more votes than we would have received with any of the screwballs that were competing for the nomination. (Exception of Dr. Feldman being noted as not a screwball but hardly qualified.)

  97. robert capozzi

    br: NSON has not given any indication yet that they understand POTUS campaigns – especially the 3rd party permutations.

    me: Bummer. Que sera. It seems, according to Don-Draper-and-David-Axelrod BR, GJ chose the wrong Svengali.

    Oh well. It’s a quixotic effort, and almost certainly was doomed to fail at the outset. It’s been fun for me to watch a lessarchist candidate for president be taken at least semi-seriously. That’s quite the achievement.

    Even if GJ had hired Draper/Alexrod, I’m not sure the outcome would have been appreciably different. I’m not sure the media all think, Gee, if he only targeted certain states and hire people except fundraisers and Draper/Axelrod, and he laid out a very specific inside baseball strategy, GJ would be measuring the drapes in the Oval right about now.

    You repeat that GJ deflects on his strategy, but it looks to me like the strategy has been: blitz TV “earned media,” build an Internet presence while raising money until there’s enough money to advertise. That’s just begun to happen now.

    I’ve assumed we’re looking at a one-term Clinton presidency, and I’m hoping the Rs can retain Congress to block her.

  98. robert capozzi

    gp: Wrong objective, wrong strategy.

    me: I don’t believe I’ve seen what you consider to be the right objective and right strategy. What are they?

  99. Anthony Dlugos


    Welch was a little too mathematical in that article.

    Part of the reason the Johnson-Weld ticket was the only acceptable ticket to me was because I figured we’d need to avail ourselves of some leverage in order to get into the debates.

  100. Be Rational

    You repeat that GJ deflects on his strategy, but it looks to me like the strategy has been: blitz TV “earned media,” build an Internet presence while raising money until there’s enough money to advertise. That’s just begun to happen now.


    But it’s too little, very nearly too late. There is still some hope, just less than they would have had starting earlier – and yes, they had enough money.
    They missed the opportunity to use early advertising and gain time leverage along with targeting to use free media to leverage their limited resources.

    The last minute advertising will have far less impact, but we’ll be able to see something to learn for the rest of this campaign and future campaigns.

    But it’s still a crazy year and anything could still happen. The CPD could still include Johnson and the current advertising has enough money behind it to help if the 15 states they supposedly targeted were well chosen.

    There is a new Washington Post poll that shows state by state numbers for GJ that show that GJ’s corner of the US is a good target for him, in addition to the regions I have recommended. There were a few added surprises this year on the list of states over 14% for GJ.

  101. Be Rational

    New State by State polling data:

    New Mexico 25%
    Utah 23%
    Alaska 19%
    Idaho 19%
    South Dakota 19%

    The following are all between 14% and 17%
    New Hampshire,
    North Dakota,
    Rhode Island,

    Most of the above were on my target lists for GJ’s best target states.
    This can give some data for adjustments. Of course some overlap states such as MA 11% need to be included in any case.

    The worst region overall: the old George Wallace South:

    Mississippi 4%
    Alabama 7%
    Kentucky 8%
    Louisiana 9%
    North Carolina 10%
    South Carolina 10%
    Tennessee 10%
    Arkansas 11%
    Georgia 12% … a bright spot in the South

  102. Joseph Buchman Post author

    Those data are not, I believe, among those included in the CPD requirement. Those are all from an online Surveymonkey survey, yes? (Always appreciated when you provide a source for your numbers).

  103. robert capozzi

    gp, here on IPR? I’ve seen you comment on much, mostly criticisms of others. I’ve not seen what Strategy GP might look like. Perhaps you have in your newsletter. If there, can you recommend one to look at that best represents your approach?

  104. Be Rational

    “So after dedicating over $2 million to radio advertising, Johnson is headed to the big screen … ”


    Plenty of money was available and wasted on Radio. It should have been spent on targeted major network broadcast TV ads bracketing the news – early, morning, noon, evening and late – in targeted states with the list I proveded.

    Now, instead of gaining, they’ve wasted $2 million and fallen to 7%.

    A lesson to be learned for the future.

  105. Be Rational

    Now the question, where are they running the ads – targeted where? – hopefully not on cable. The ads should be running on network broadcast TV (which, of course, DOES include the the broadcast network simulcast on cable as a package for those who watch broadcast TV on their cable box).

  106. robert capozzi

    br: A lesson to be learned for the future.

    me: So, the next time the Ls nominate plausible prez, do you think that the marketing landscape might change more? Or does Draper/Axelrod believe that its truisms will still apply decades from now?

  107. Be Rational

    Radio will likely continue to become less important.
    Cable TV will still be overpriced with limited reach. It’s worth being on the broadcast networks that simulcast on cable.
    Internet advertising and Social Media will continue to grow, becoming more important, but still 2nd to broadcast TV in 2020. They should be part of the mix after broadcast TV and before radio.
    Cable TV comes last, to fill in nitches when you have lots of money to blow. Radio can be good for smaller level races and statewide primary campaigns.
    Newspaper ads are generally worthless except in local campaigns. Newspaper ads can sometimes be quite useful, however, in building county and local LP groups.
    Broadcast network TV in targeted states will still be the number one form of advertising needed for a serious POTUS race in 2020 and should come first.

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