Nicks Campaign a Stepping Stone
by Frank Atwood, March 3, 2004 (posted)
Travis Nicks, you ran very well, you have nothing to be embarrassed about, we your supporters saw and found nothing lacking in you. You were great!
We failed to win.
Maybe we failed you, but the task and burden now is on all of us to focus on building the base of the party and doing outreach.
Friends, much thanks to everyone who contributed and was supportive of our campaign. We weren't able to deliver victory. Respectable showing -- "Yes." Victory -- "No." Thank you for your support.
The assumption that all three parties worked under was Gandhi's quote:
First they ignore you,
Then they laugh at you,
Then they fight you,
Then you win.
Ignore -- We ourselves choose to ignore the Democrat who was unable to get sufficient signatures to be on the ballot. We described the election as only two candidates on the ballot, even though the Democrat was announcing she was a write-in candidate and trying to earn respect by someone fighting her, but we and the Republicans judiciously ignored her.
Laugh -- Although grateful for her effort, and we salute the fact that Margaret Denny did get a two and a half times better percentage than we did this year, we did have to absorb some laughs at her expense. Regardless, thank you, Margaret, for your campaign of 15 months ago.
Fight -- We successfully chose a two-way race. We fought the Republican and lost. The Republican had the name recognition and resources to exploit the absentee ballot voting population and was able to successfully ignore and avoid us.
WIN -- Nicks at 14.48% squeaked by the Democrats (13.09%) and took SECOND Place. Here are the questions I want to be asked here in Arapahoe County:
"Are the Democrats competing with Libertarians to be the first Third Party in Arapahoe County?"
"Has the Libertarian Party graduated to Second Party status in Arapahoe County?"
Visibility and Credibility:
Yard Signs -- We won the yard sign war. I know of a Republican who, after the election, took one of our signs to use it as a model for the next political campaign he is in. That's flattery. We did well.
Media -- We read all the newspapers, spotted Tracy Baker's debate challenge, convinced Peter Boyles to host a debate, and both Tracy and the Republican refused to attend. Nicks got great PR. The sequel was the Aaron Harbor show, where Baker attended, but still we haven't seen the Republican.
Travis Nicks had endorsement interviews with The Denver Post, The Rocky Mountain News, and the Aurora Sentinel. He did not get any endorsements, but only because he was young -- 27. Old man, you've made us proud.
The Republicans generically campaigned and specifically ignored us. We, Libertarians, never were threatening enough to prompt them to fight us. Any attempts to laugh at us were frustrated by Travis being so good. Nicks gave them no opportunity to laugh at anything. The Democrat's write-in campaign was able to turn it from a two-way race into a two and a half way race.
If our base had been better, or if we had gotten significant endorsements, if we had the money for newspaper ads, then maybe the Republican game plan might have collapsed.
One on one I spoke with disgruntled Republicans disappointed with Bush's identity theft of the Democratic agenda, and I thought a sizable percentage might use this election as a statement opportunity. I was wrong.
I was hoping guilt by association of party might have tarred the Republican with Baker fallout. I was wrong.
In an election in which there were only two candidates on the ballot I thought members of the other major party would cast votes our way. I was wrong.
I thought the Uncle Nasty constituency might impact the election more. I was wrong.
I am humbled by Travis putting it to the test, and I concede we need to do more.
Future Game Plan:
We must create a tipping point. I encourage everyone to read Gladwell's book The Tipping Point. Personally, I am searching for the elements of a self-sustaining chain reaction to build our base. If not "self sustaining," at least minimum friction.
Basic Theoretical Question:
Which is easier to do:
1) persuade a non-voter to vote Libertarian, or
2) convert a non-Libertarian voter to vote Libertarian?
Uncle Nasty may work on the first half. On the second half, I'm speculating about sending the "World's Smallest Political Quiz" to Republican and Democrat primary voters and let them consider assessing their candidates in an authoritarian vs. libertarian context. I'm eager to hear others' thoughts on this topic.
Newton is reported to have said: "If I saw farther it was only because I was able to stand on the shoulders of giants like Galileo." Lincoln stood on his own long legs and Fremont's shoulders. Travis Nicks, you, too, are one of the giants. Thank you. We are tasked with broadening the base and being more worthy of you next election.