Congratulations to Paul Stanton, who won the Libertarian Party's nomination for US Senate from Florida in yesterday's primary. As my readers/listeners know, I supported Paul in the primary.
Congratulations also to Augustus Invictus, who ran an ... interesting ... campaign. As my readers/listeners know, I opposed Invictus in the primary.
Now is not the time to pick on Invictus, and I'm not going to. But a couple of thoughts on what happened and why:
About 4,000 people voted in Florida's first-ever statewide Libertarian primary.
As much as those of us who are involved in the LP would like to think that they all looked closely at the candidates, carefully weighed those candidates' qualifications and positions, and did their best to "pick the best man," that's almost certainly not what happened.
I would be surprised if as many as 500 of those voters could identify either of the candidates in a lineup or state their mutual positions on so much as a single issue, and those 500 made up their minds early and stuck with their decisions.
Augustus did not lose the primary because of his philosophy or his political positions. He lost the primary because for his particular branding strategy to succeed, he would have needed at least a full order of magnitude more media attention than he got. He would have also had to do certain things with that attention, but the first step was getting the attention. And he made a damn good effort at getting it. I don't know that anyone could have succeeded where he failed given the same playing field and set of facts.
So, 7/8ths of the Libertarian primary voters went to the polls not knowing either of the candidates from Adam.
Those voters saw two names: Paul Stanton and Augustus Invictus. Or, rather, they saw two implied descriptors: Normal and weird.
Most of them voted for normal because most people, ceteris paribus, prefer normal to weird.
A few voted for weird because, ceteris paribus, they prefer weird to normal.
The people who had a strong preference for Invictus's particular brand of weird were among the 500 who actually followed the primary race and formed strong, at least somewhat informed, opinions of the candidates.
Personally, I could see myself having voted for Invictus if the weirdness branding (and the procured publicity for the weirdness branding) had been a lot more LSD Journals/strip club threesomes and a lot less Huey Long meets Benito Mussolini.
Or, to put a finer point on it -- and I am talking presentation, not content, here -- a lot more Hunter S. Thompson/Freak Power and a lot less David Duke/National Association for the Advancement of White People.
But, of course, that's because I'm pretty weird myself. Weirdness of any type wouldn't have carried the general election for a third party candidate, although it might have made the general election fun and interesting. Vis a vis major party weirdness, I was rooting for Alan Grayson in the Democratic primary -- he would have whipped Marco Rubio's ass in November and the next 60-odd days would have been great fun.
I am not trying to take anything away from either of these gentlemen. They both worked hard. Mr. Stanton deserves his victory and I'm glad he won. I'm glad Invictus lost, but am grateful to him for making things VERY interesting.