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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Barr did measurably better the typical LP candidate

Starchild wrote:
SC) I do believe numerous people in Denver predicted Barr/Root was going to be our "strongest ticket" ever. (SC
It was obvious that Barr would get our strongest level of media coverage ever, and that has been true.
SC) I trust no one is suggesting that it's a good tradeoff to make our message more conservative and mainstream and still get about the same number of votes? (SC
I indeed regret that Barr moved the LP toward some aspects of the "conservative" message of the candidate you voted for (Ron Paul) -- e.g. on immigration, abortion, gay marriage.  I also agree we shouldn't emulate Ron Paul's "mainstream" demurral from abolition of public schools and Social Security (on Meet The Press in December), or his conservative-pleasing implication that we should abolish income taxes (which fall mainly on the rich) while keeping payroll taxes (which fall mainly on the middle class and working poor).  (When Paul talks about how much revenue would be left over after income tax abolition, he counts payroll taxes as untouched. See

Predicting vote totals is tricky.  David Nolan called the Barr campaign a disaster, but only 48 hours ago he predicted 1% for Barr.  I don't think Barr was a disaster, but I only predicted 0.7% because I didn't think that Barr's media coverage, while including at least 10X more national TV than Badnarik, would move the needle very much.  Did you get a prediction on the record, or are you Wednesday-morning quarterbacking here?

Yes, I'll take mainstream ecumenical libertarianism over extremist libertarianism even if you magically guaranteed me the same number of votes.  Mainstream libertarianism is more representative of the LP membership, and solidifies the brand for future its future expansion into the 13% - 20% of Americans who want more personal and economic freedom.  Mainstream libertarianism builds synergy with the policy prescriptions of libertarians in think tanks and academia -- who have far more impact on increasing liberty than the LP does.  Mainstream libertarianism brings political attention to an agenda that (like the moderate Socialist Party platform of 1928) has a better chance of influencing public policy than does extremist libertarianism.

Also, number of votes isn't the only metric by which to measure a campaign.  Other metrics include:
  • media exposure for the LP's ideas and brand (discounted by how off-message or embarrassing the campaign might be)
  • ballot access victories and precedents
  • registration growth
  • membership growth
  • donations
  • tools, techniques, and skills retained by LP activists
  • re-usable media (documents, imagery, videos)