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Thu, 07 Feb 2008

Election Post Mortem

Super Tuesday and the California primaries are over. Ron Paul only earned 4% of the popular vote, and none of the delegates. I saw this coming in advance, and now that it has happened, let me offer up a blunt post mortem analysis.

Why we lost:

Lack of Central Leadership
From the beginning the official campaign kept a hands-off attitude towards the grassroots Meetup organizations. Ostensibly this was so that the campaign would not be responsible for the actions of the Meetups. But in retrospect it meant that there never was a local campaign. The Meetups were composed of volunteers with zero political experience, trying to figure this all out on their lonesome.

Unresponsive Campaign
When the Meetup did need seek guidance or help from the official campaign, the response was either non-existant or very slow. The best example I had of this was in trying to get the county voter registration data. The campaign never provided any help in getting this data, despite repeated requests from several people and myself.

Acting Like a Cult And Not a Campaign
This blame goes to the grassroots Meetups. We spent way too much time trying to find committed activists, and way too little time trying to find voters. We waved signs and hung banners instead of going door to door. I sent out repeated calls for telephone canvassing throughout the month of January and first of February, but out of several hundred Meetup members, I only got four respondents. Door to door canvassing was slightly better, but was still woefully short of the effort needed.

Libertarian Naivete
Political inexperience has always afflicted libertarian campaigns. We don't know what we are doing, are unwilling to compromise a minor principle to achieve a greater political gain, and have this bizarre belief that if only we can get our message out people will automatically vote for us. We need to grow up and get a clue.

Ignoring Republicans
As amazing as it may seem, the grassroots and campaign seemed to ignore Republicans, even though Ron Paul is himself a Republican running in Republican primaries. Way too much emphasis was placed on converting Democrats and independents. We expected that they would change their registration. Stupid. In the meantime, we never did any outreach to actual Republicans.

I have other criticisms, but those are the main ones. Already I am hearing people cry conspiracy that Ron Paul did not win. But it was no conspiracy that lost him Super Tuesday, it was old fashioned poor campaigning. We need to learn from our mistakes.