Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Some thoughts on "laboratory precincts"


In the past, I've tried to do a little data collection on what worked, what didn't work, and how well, in Libertarian Party campaigns. This year, I'd like to extend those activities and try to develop a real picture of how the LP can improve its electoral performance. Here's what I have in mind:

Here in St. Louis County, Missouri, we have a number of overlapping districts -- US House, State Senate, State Representative, County Council, etc. We also have statewide races for State Auditor and US Senate.

This year, I'd like to pick a State House district with a "serious" (i.e. not just paper) LP candidate, located within a State Senate district with a "serious" LP candidate, located within a US House district with a "serious" LP candidate. "Serious," of course, being relative, but I'm talking about candidates who are willing to spend some time and burn some shoeleather.

Then I'd like to map out that State House district by precinct and designate different precincts for different activities:

- A "control" precinct in which no substantial campaign activities would occur (i.e. the voters might see newspaper or other media coverage, but it would for all intents and purposes be the equivalent of a "paper" campaign precinct).

- A precinct in which each voter household receives a door knock/literature drop.

- A precinct in which each voter household receives a door knock/literature drop; and in which the LP's State House, State Senate, County Executive, State Auditor, US House and US Senate candidates (instead of just whatever volunteers we can field) participate in either a second door knock or a precinct activity (i.e. a "meet the candidates" picnic, coffees at supporters' homes to which the neighborhood is invited, etc.).

- A precinct in which each voter household receives a door knock/literature drop; in which the LP's State House, State Senate, County Executive, State Auditor, US House and US Senate candidates (instead of just whatever volunteers we can field) participate in either a second door knock or a precinct activity (i.e. a "meet the candidates" picnic, coffees at supporters' homes to which the neighborhood is invited, etc.).; in which a "Get Out The Vote" calling or postcard operation is run; and in which the polling places are staffed from open to close by candidates and/or party volunteers with literature and signs.

The point being, of course, to look at the party's candidate vote percentages in the control precinct versus the other three precincts and see if these activities make a real difference for us yet.

Naturally, if the candidate carries one or more of those non-"control" precincts, I'll want to try to repeat the experiment in 2008 using the most efficacious combination of methods in ALL of a district's precincts. But even if we don't carry a plurality, the experiment will still be useful for various things. Things like:

"Well, Representative Snoot, you may have noticed that our candidate got 20% in Precinct B last time around, and that most of that 20% seems to have come directly out of your hide. You barely scraped through. So, would you like to vote no on that "death penalty for marijuana users" bill, or would you like for us to do what we did in Precinct B again ... only this time, in every precinct you carried last time?"

Or:

"Yeah, Representative Snoot, you made it ... barely. Old Joe gave you a scare, didn't he? Hey, did you know that Joe's very interested in education? I hear there's an opening on the state's Board of Education. I bet if the governor saw fit to appoint Joe to fill that vacancy, he'd be just too durn busy to run against you next time. What's that? You're golfing with the governor this weekend? What a coincidence!"

Stuff like that there.

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