Smith, “uncommitted” carry LP primaries

The Libertarian Party held presidential preference primaries in two of the “Super Duper Tuesday” states—California and Missouri—yesterday.

In California, Christine Smith dominated the 12-candidate field with 25.2% of the votes cast (95% of precincts reporting). Steve Kubby placed second with 17%, followed by Wayne Allyn Root with 13.9%. No other candidate exceeded 10%. Full results from California’s Secretary of State here.

In Missouri, “uncommitted” contested the primary with six flesh-and-blood candidates—and carried 46.8% of the vote. Among the live candidates, Root prevailed with 18.1%, followed by Kubby at 9.6% and George Phillies at 8%. The Missouri Secretary of State’s tabulations are available online here.

The Libertarian Party of a third state, Arizona, held its own “presidential preference election” using online voting and a variant of Instant Runoff Voting. The AZLP’s front page currently lists George Phillies as the winner of that election, followed by Wayne Root and Barry Hess. No further details are available at this time.

20 Responses to “Smith, “uncommitted” carry LP primaries”

  1. Trent Hill Says:

    It doesnt surprise me that uncommitted WHIPPED the LP candidates. Uncommitted or NOTA routinely finish ahead of flesh-and-blood LPers,lol.

    You LPers often want something better than is on the ballot.

  2. Jose C. Says:

    It seems the big winners for the super Tuesday states for the Libertarian Party are Christine Smith (California), George Phiilies (Arizona), and Wayne A Root (Missouri).

    Not doing well are Steve Kuby, Dave Hollist, and Daniel Imperato. They failed to win a state. Kuby and Hollist did especiall poorly in California a state they are from. Kuby is running an active campaign and is well known (he ran for Governor) so the results in California are especially disapointing.

    The next big contest in California for Libertarian’s is the Libertarian Party of California convention (on Presidents Day weekend) Presidential straw poll. It will be interesting to see who wins the straw poll.

  3. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Jose,

    It’s hard to get any real lessons from the primaries, but to the extent that any lessons can be drawn, you’ve got at least some of them exactly backward.

    The biggest loser for the day was Phillies. Despite extensive efforts, including GOTV calling in California and direct mailing and a newspaper endorsement in Missouri, he came in a distant fourth in both states.

    Root managed a weak 2nd-place finish in Missouri, and probably only managed that because his was the first name on the ballot. He was a distant third in California. He’s been trying to position himself as a Harry Browne-style “inevitable,” and that strategy has proven to be a miserable failure for him even earlier than it did for Gary Nolan in 2004.

    Smith was certainly the big winner in California. Whether or not she can do anything with that victory (which was almost certainly a function of being the only female on the ballot and sharing her name with a supermodel) remains to be seen. My money is on “not.”

    I haven’t seen any real details on the Arizona contest. I’ll wait until I do to comment.

    There were no “big winners.”

    It was a win for Kubby in one specific respect: It is now established beyond any reasonable doubt that when George Phillies runs like hell, Kubby still beats him without breaking a sweat. The sum total of Kubby’s primary efforts were email messages to Missouri and California LP discussion lists. He outpolled Phillies in Missouri, and more than tripled Phillies’s votes in California.

    It is February 6th, and Kubby is in exactly the same position he was in on February 4th. He remains the prohibitive frontrunner for the nomination.

  4. Robert Capozzi Says:

    LP primary votes are beauty contests, yes?

    They have no affect on the NatCon selection, true?

  5. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Bob,

    LP primaries often aren’t even “beauty contests,” but rather collections of largely random, uninterpretable data.

    That was not the case in 2000—Harry Browne really did get some “public consciousness penetration” going, and it showed. That takes money, and none of the candidates this year have the kind of money it takes (hint: by this time in the 2000 cycle, I believe Harry had raised and spent somewhere in the neighborhood of a million bucks).

    In Missouri, we’ve generally seen that the top name on the ballot wins the primaries for state offices virtually every time. We’ve had a gubernatorial candidate twice in a row who has no connection with the party, no significant funding, no appeal, etc.—but he was waiting at the Secretary of State’s door on the first day of filing in 2000 and 2004. There are exceptions (twice we’ve had a female candidate, who happens to be my significant other, run “pull out all the stops” campaigns to beat really bad top-of-the-ballot US Senate primary candidates), but they’re exceptions, not the rule.

    In Missouri’s presidential preference primary, the voters have the option of “uncommitted.”

    In 2000, “uncommitted” got 25.2% to ballot topper Harry Browne’s 53.2%.

    In 2004, “uncommitted” got 37.9% to ballot topper Gary Nolan’s 45.7%.

    Yesterday, “uncommitted” got 46.8% to ballot topper Wayne Root’s 18.1%.

    I knew Harry Browne, and I know Gary Nolan. Harry Browne was a friend of mine; I like Gary Nolan, but any friendship is a bit strained for obvious reasons. Wayne Root is no Harry Browne or Gary Nolan. He polled far behind “uncommitted” in Missouri, and he polled third to Christine Smith and Steve Kubby in California. There’s no way to spin that into a “victory” that passes the smell test.

    I’m not going to try to sell Kubby’s performance as a victory, either. I expected him to do better in California. I believe there are some not-strictly-political reasons why he didn’t (e.g. the winner was the only woman on the ballot in a field of 12, and has a name familiar to others even though she’s not “that” Christine Smith”), but he didn’t.

    The only sense in which Kubby’s performance in California and Missouri is indicative is that, as I said, it shows him to be much more popular than George Phillies, who is one of the two candidates perceived as being in actual contention with Kubby for the nomination (the other being Root).

    I don’t consider the same judgment applicable to the disparity between Kubby and Root. Ballot topper or not, Root did beat Kubby in Missouri, and the margin between them in California was close enough that I’m willing to assume (especially after looking at some county numbers) that it was favorite-sonism rather than popularity per se which made that difference.

    The primary outcomes are not binding on national convention delegates. That’s not the same as saying that they have “no effect” on those delegates. IMO, yesterday made this a Kubby-Root race. Phillies bet the most on Super Duper Tuesday, and he lost his bet. That will likely be noted by delegates, who are already predisposed to look to someone other than George when seeking leadership (as evidenced by his previous runs for the party’s chairmanship).

  6. Seth Cohn Says:

    Tom, you insist on spinning this as a Phillies loss. Far from it.

    California voters didn’t turn out for much of anyone… Christine Smith wins because of her sex, plain and simple: It’s a well known fact that females tend to pull votes BECAUSE they are female. Kubby’s failure to win his home state says far more than any Phillies failure to win a state on the other side of the country that he didn’t campaign as heavily in.

    Missouri’s ‘endorsement’ was a small paper, so that’s a null factor. It was an open primary, so Root’s Republican roots paid off there.

    Arizona, where Phillies beat Barry Hess’s hometown advantage, and they were using IRV so it wasn’t ‘one vote takes all’ says FAR more about the true nature of the race: Phillies might not everyone’s first choice, but he’s probably everyone’s second choice.

    [obdisclaimer: I used to be the Phillies Webmaster, but currently have no staff position with the campaign.]

  7. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Seth,

    George Phillies campaign in Missouri using direct mail. He campaigned in Missouri using email. He campaigned in Missouri by phone. His campaign blasted about a press release about the newspaper endorsement that you now call a “null factor.”

    In California, he ran a GOTV calling operation—I’m aware of one registered Libertarian household which received two calls, one each for the two registered Libertarian voters in the household.

    If you don’t think that 4th place, sub-10% polling in those two states is a “loss” after those self-advertised efforts, you’re high.

    I have so far not commented on the Arizona web election because I have no details on it. I don’t know if any of the campaigns had advance knowledge of it (to the best of my knowledge, the AZLP did not contact the Kubby campaign about it). I don’t know if 10 people, 100 people or 1000 people voted in it. I don’t know which candidates were listed on the electronic ballot. I don’t know how secure the process was. When I know more, I’ll say more. Until I know more, I won’t.

  8. Obama Chris Says:

    A Smith/Kubby ticket sounds good.

  9. Robert Milnes Says:

    Agreed, Smith’s victory came from the female vote. Kubby’s vote from home court advantage & previous run for gov. That puts WAR as frontrunner & Bob Jackson up & comer.

  10. George Phillies Says:

    The Phillies 2008 California phone campaign got started far too late, because I made the mistake of assuming that the LNC would be able to get their BallotBase program up and running in time. I also hoped that since they had sent out an email for a republican they would send out matching emails for their own party’s candidates. Wrong, twice.

    On the bright side, when it became clear that the LNC had thrown away $200,000 on ballotbase, a program that does not work, including paying huge amounts of money for data that is now rotting in a database someplace, my campaign did get GeorgeBase up and running in a few days, at 0.1% of their cost, with well above 60,000 names of L supporters with phone numbers.

    Almost everyone in California who was reached had already voted by mail, which you can easily do in California, at least in the two counties where we concentrated our efforts. Needless to say, they could not change their votes, so the campaign was not directly going to do much.

    The Phillies 2008 Primary Direct Mail campaign exists primarily in Mr. Knapp’s imagination. I am doing contacting of state party leaders, systematically around the country, by phone email and real mail, meaning I did reach a few dozen people in MO, and once you have the answering machine on the phone the ‘please vote for me’ was a few extra words. However, MO was an open primary, and effective L targeted schemes are challenging. Nonetheless, for MO, my congratulations to ‘uncommitted’ and Wayne for finishing first and second.

  11. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    George,

    You write:

    “The Phillies 2008 Primary Direct Mail campaign exists primarily in Mr. Knapp’s imagination.”

    Thanks for cluing me in to the fact that I’m just imagining the pieces of Phillies 2008 direct mail received at my house, some addressed to me and some addressed to my significant other. My recollection is that we have each received four pieces of said mail, in our imaginations. The “Phillies Buck” should have clued me in to the fact that I was just having a bizarre cartoon dream.

  12. Lex Says:

    I’m surprised that George Phillies didn’t receive more votes yesterday, but he may have been the “big winner” after all—Ron Paul’s disappointing vote totals could discourage Paul from a third party run, and Phillies might be the main beneficiary, given his call to enforce the immigration laws and his advertising on pro-Paul websites.

    Good job by Third Party Watch regular Robert Milnes as well, beating multi-millionaire candidate Daniel Imperato in California.

  13. Joseph Knight Says:

    GO CHRISTINE! You make me proud.

    As for Root, I just don’t think convention-going big-Ls would nominate the man if he was the only one running. Sigh, but then again I didn’t think any libertarian would ever run on a fair-tax platform.

  14. David F. Nolan Says:

    I think Tom Knapp’s analysis is pretty much spot-on. As I’ve written elsewhere, the contest for the LP nomination is far from over—indeed, it has barely begun—but as of today, it appears that Root and Kubby are the candidates to bet on, with Christine Smith a strong contender if she gets back into the race in a serious way. Phillis has stumbled badly, and the rest of the wanna-bes aren’t even on the radar.

  15. Nigel Watt Says:

    I’m planning on voting in the Republican primary (for Paul, obviously - couldn’t be in my county for the LP conventions anyways), so I can’t impact the vote here, but at this point I’d be fine with either Kubby or Smith.

    Phillies is too off-message and un-charismatic to help the LP at all.

    (Disclaimer: I was the electronic outreach coordinator for Phillies at one point and left of my own accord.)

  16. Thomas M. Sipos Says:

    The mostly irrelevant results for Super Tuesday’s Libertarian Party presidential “primary election” in California indicate little, apart from Root’s lack of appeal.

    The “primary voters” came from the 83-86,000 (last I heard) registered Libertarians in California. Unlike the 1,200+ dues-paying CLP members (from which the likely 50 or so CLP delegates to the LP national convention will be chosen), primary voters don’t follow internal LP politics, so they’re unfamiliar with the candidates.

    It’s thus not surprising that the only female name, Christine Smith, won. Sorry, but Smith won due to voter ignorance, and because of her sex. (And before anyone calls me a “sexist,” remember, I’m the one who’s been promoting Karen Kwiatkowski for president these last several years.)

    Smith’s victory does not reflect her actual support among the eventual California delegation. It doesn’t even reflect her support among primary voters, since they voted for her out of ignorance.

    However, the real loser was Wayne Allyn Root. Root is the only LP candidate who is known to primary voters. Root’s the only one who’s appeared on Major Media for months now, doing talk radio and cable TV shows throughout Southern California.

    And still, with all that Major Media attention, Root came in third.

    Smith won due to voter ignorance. Root lost due to voter awareness.

    I predict that neither candidate will be the favorite of the CLP (or national) delegation at the national convention.

  17. Jake Roberts Says:

    Imperato should quit now, it is established that he is a loser and a fringe candidate who does not have Libertarian ideas for America. He prefers big government to pay for all of his social programs and really would prefer to run a dictatorship where everyone believes everything he says.

  18. Steven R Linnabary Says:

    Out of mere curiousity, does anybody know if the Phillies endorsement by the Rolla newspaper have any effect (either for the LP in general, or for Phillies in general) on voting patterns in that county in Missouri?

    PEACE
    Steve

  19. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Steven,

    Yes, the endorsement had an effect. The Rolla Daily News is published in Phelps County, Missouri, and in that county Phillies tied with Root for second place (out of twenty votes cast in Phelps County’s LP primary, Root and Phillies each received three—“uncommitted” won the county with, if I remember correctly, 7 votes). Phillies polled 4th place statewide.

  20. Joseph Marzullo Says:

    Too bad I’m too young to run for POTUS, I would pwn each and every candidate. lol. The LP has been going in the wrong direction! ah well

    Wayne Allyn Root:

    *supports the continuation of presence in Iraq (with deadlines) I would prefer to just leave, but I understand where he’s going with this. Just up and leaving puts him on the fringe with conservative mainstream.

    *he actually supports the FLAT TAX. Not the Fair Tax. But he said he would support the FT if it means we’ll be getting rid of the Federal Income Tax.

    *he is a good communicator, but he comes off as uhhh I don’t know. He’s a good orator, but he just makes me feel uncomfortable. And I don’t like him advocating a wall on the border. Securing the border is one thing, building a WALL is another.

    *He’s GREAT on the War on Drug. Wants to end it!

    I would probably give him my vote, is voting for New Jersey already done? I just voted for Ron Paul. Root might have some bad positions on some issues, but I think he brings more to the table than the other candidates. He IS mainstream. Well, somewhat.

    George Phillies

    *bad orator

    *annoying

    *dorky

    Sorry, I would only vote for you if you were the last man standing.

    *Christine Smith

    Don’t know much about you. You seem too… mediocre. The LP needs to nominate a guy like Root, he has the best chance of getting media exposure and he has been out raising everyone so far.

    *Steve Kubby

    I’d say you’re my second choice. How’d you pull off getting on South Park? :) That was very cool. You seem like a good second choice, but I feel like I need to compromise, so that’s why I would vote for Wayne Root. He might suck on a few issues, but at least he’s not in the fringe.

    The rest are out of it…

    thank you

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