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Friday, December 19, 2008

Purity-testing candidates

Starchild, you can get an 80/80 on the WSPQ and still favor
protectionism, military empire, conscription, farm subsidies, public
schools, helmet laws, gun control, a living wage, monopoly fiat
currency, universal healthcare, banning all abortions, establishment of
religion, and estate taxes. If you're going to purity-test candidates,
you should use the interactive higher-precision (yet more compact) test
at It limits you to at best a 50/30 if
you have all the views I just mentioned.

The mailing Allen mentioned sounded like an admirable effort to cast a
wider net looking for potential Libertarian candidates.
Non-libertarians who mis-register (for whatever reason) are very
unlikely to be interested in running for office as a Libertarian, and
I've never heard of a problem candidacy of this sort.

Allen, only a tiny fraction of voters look at resumes of candidates for
partisan office. The rest let the parties do that. I gave you two
well-controlled experiments in which varying party label for a fixed
resume moves the needle by 20 percentage points, whereas varying resume
for a fixed party label moves the needle by 0.1 percentage point.
That's two orders of magnitude difference. Social science very rarely
gets that good. :-)

Resume/experience isn't even the next-most important factor after party
label. The next would be money and its equivalent in name recognition
or media access. Resume/experience is most important only in
non-partisan races with rough funding parity (which is most of the
competitive ones). Resume/experience is indeed crucial to your
farm-team vision, but it is not the explanation why Libertarians lose
partisan races. (The image of the LP isn't the explanation either. I
bet 90% of voters have no impression or knowledge of the LP one way or
the other. The LP's image is more important among opinion-shapers than
among voters, and we need to keep repairing our image among
opinion-shapers even as we reach past them to all those voters who have
never heard of us.)