November 5th, 2003


Pre-voting FSP style

Has any one tried an FSP style political campaign? I'm sure that a lot of Libertarian (or Green, etc.) politicians get the line "I'd vote for you, but I don't want to waste my vote." Rather than asking for their vote, what if a candidate asked them not to vote for him unless he had enough votes to win? For example, suppose I wanted to run for Mayor of Raleigh as a Libertarian, using the FSP style approach. Here's what I imagine I should do:

* Analyze how many votes it would take to win office. One of the features of the FSP that has made it a success so far is that the leaders have established simple tangible goals, i.e. 5000 to vote on the state, 20000 before the move.

* Approach voters and ask them to sign a pledge to vote for me. Tell them I won't run until I have enough pre-votes to win.

* I could also set up milestone targets for fund raising, i.e. I won't ask for N amount in donations until I've reached X number of pledges.

* Once I had signed up sufficient number of pre-votes to win, only then would I actually enter the race.

What are the advantages?

* Rather than blow all of my resources on a single, probably-doomed-to-failure campaign, I could slowly grow my support base until it was large enough that I had a plausible chance of winning.

* Pre-voters don't have to worry about wasting their vote, since I wouldn't actually run until I had a decent chance of winning.

* It would give me a growing mailing list from to solicit volunteers, campaign contributions, organize meetings, etc.

* It could extend over multiple campaign cycles, giving me more time to build a support base, learn how to campaign, etc.

* It would not necessarily have the stench of futility that accompanies so many libertarian campaigns.

What are the disadvantages?

* Voters might forget that they had pledged.

* People might not care to listen or donate if you're not a "real" candidate.

* If it takes too long to reach critical mass, people might get discouraged.

* It might be illegal (violate election/racketeering laws?)

* You wouldn't qualify for matching funds in future elections.

Has anyone tried this approach?