Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Post-Election Notes, Part 2

A couple things have kept me from writing more reflections- the surgically repaired right hand that is useless for typing, and the sting I feel when I look at the numbers and reflect on the realities.

Call that last bit pride. I knew that the odds were greatly against me for a victory, but I did have plenty of secondary objectives.

2%. That was the bottom line. I got this, so the Libertarian Party maintains automatic ballot access for the next four years statewide in Indiana. That's no small victory, especially when we recall the failure of the Greens to achieve it this year.

10%. That would have put us into the primaries. Opinion within the LPIN was divided on this. Many did not want to be part of a taxpayer-funded process that only really is political party business. My belief was that the Ds & Rs would remain true to form and would try to change the rules if I reached this figure. Doing so would have made us a player in a very worthy discourse about the nature of funding these events, which I really was hoping for. Alas.

2nd Place in any County. That would have made us eligible for positions on appointed boards and commissions, such as the Elections Boards. We deserve a place on them anyway, and no better way to make the case but to displace the Rs or Ds- after all, the law only provides for two parties to participate. It would have been a delight to give them a taste of their own medicine. Alas, my best showing was in Wayne County, with more than 8%, yet still in 3rd.

Increased Statewide Percentage. If you can't win, my objective was to at least improve upon past performance. I thought this was a slam-dunk. The public was more upset with both parties this year than in 2002. I made close to 200 appearances in 35 counties- all new bests for LPIN candidates. I was getting new support on issues like opposition to forced annexations and smoking bans, which I thought should translate into votes, election day staffing, and contributions. Boy, was I wrong there, but more on that later. The numbers:

2002: 60,937 votes received, 4.12%
2006: 53,459 votes received, 3.33%

The 2006 numbers are not official yet, as incredibly, not all precincts are counted even still. My vote totals may go up, but the percentage is unlikely to change much.

I am at once embarrassed by my showing and perplexed at the realities. I just can't get my arms around doing so much more resulting in fewer votes. Ame tells me that the 2002 returns might have been better because we had a female candidate, and some women will vote for any woman regardless of party. Others tell me that having Steve Osborn on the ballot for US Senate at the top of ticket may have sucked up any sympathy/protest votes we would take. I really think that I could have had one public appearance or a thousand and it would not have made a bit of difference. Unless I had at least a minor statewide saturation of TV ads to begin getting real name recognition, the average Hoosier voter wasn't going to violate their traditional old party choice.

Strong Showing at Home. I had hoped to finish 2nd here in Hamilton County when I began the campaign. As time passed and I was travelling across the state, I slowly revised my hopes downward, but I never thought I would do worse than we had in 2002. Alas, again.

2002: 1,630 votes received, 3.70%
2006: 1,773 votes received, 3.02%

This is really disappointing. Between the 3 years working at the County Surveyor's Office, the public defense of the Geist, Homeplace, and Southwest Clay property owners against forced annexations by Fishers and Carmel, and the myriad appearances in the local papers with countless letters and quotes from statements at town or county council meetings, the result was nil. While I never really expected huge numbers to change parties and vote straight ticket Libertarian, I thought that by standing up for people, they would at least throw support behind me at the ballot box. This didn't happen at all.

This is the toughest thing to swallow. A candidacy is unfortunately something of a test on those around you. I didn't set out for it to be, but as a candidate, you find yourself looking around for those you can count on. There were so many times that I was turned away by those I thought I could count on, either directly or by evasion. I'm not the kind of guy who tries to avoid finding out these things, but the knowledge doesn't bring any particular comfort.

So, I'm glad I got the baseline 2% for continued ballot access. That's about all I'm pleased with right now, and that's not much of a feeling when reflecting back upon two years of my life.

I'm really glad to wrap up this process. I'm really enjoying helping Alex with his homework and making Isabel's dinner five nights a week. I'm enjoying getting back into the work and making money and looking forward to playing poker, and once the hand heals, hockey.


Doug said...

My theory on why libertarian votes were harder to come by than in years past is that the electorate was probably more polarized this year than in years past. I know a true Libertarian doesn't necessarily see a lot of difference between the parties.

But, for a midterm election, a Libertarian vote is probably someone motivated enough to vote, informed enough to consider choosing Libertarians, and indifferent enough as to which of the major parties prevail to go ahead and vote Libertarian. I think this year's voters had stronger opinions about whether they preferred Republicans or Democrats than they might have in 2002.

Just a theory. I had strong opinions on that subject but went ahead and voted Mike Kole anyway. My wife was the same. So there are two of your 1,200 Tippecanoe County votes.

Jay said...

Why hasn't anyone gone after the media for misrepresenting the races in which an opposing Republican or Democrat was absent? I cringed every time Chris Matthews and others on cable news stated a race was "uncontested" when double-digit vote tallies were coming in for the Libertarian. I think the media is more than a little complicit with respect to the declining Libertarian vote this time. Maybe next election, if there are races in which a Republican or Democrat is not running, Libertarians can sponsor a media blitz to point out that the race is NOT uncontested.

Kenn Gividen said...

In 2002 the LPIN had far more candidates on the ballot giving us a far higher vote count across the board.

Something to keep in mind for 2010.

Percentages in other races in 2006 were substantially higher than 2002.

Mike Kole said...

Doug- Thanks for the support!

Jay- Too many LP state affilates are so weak that the national media does unfortunately ignore Libertarian candidates. Interestingly, some outlets, such as the Washington Post, figured out that Indiana's a bit stronger and started including Eric Schansberg in the reporting. This is a job that the national LP should make a real priority of. Hire a lobbyist whose sole job is to build relationships with the media on behalf of LP. Go to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and cocktails with a different reporter, editor, newsroom director and build the bridge.

Kenn- Higher ballot visibilty might be helpful, but it might also hurt. There is a strong sentiment that Osborn really hurt my totals. I agree with you in that to me the bottom line really is stronger local organizations and thus more local candidates. These are the ones who drive our statewides up.

Anonymous said...


Just a note of thanks. No one but those who have done it themselves can realize the amount of time and energy your campaign required. I expect you'll develop a long-lasting sense of satisfaction for your hard work over the next few years. We needed your strong race to keep ballot access and we got it. Thanks, from one who has collected too many petition sigs in the past.


Ken Bisson

Mark W. Rutherford said...

I've followed Libertarian Secretary of State races in 1980, 1984, 1994 and have worked in various capacities with the Libertarian Party of Indiana on the 1998, 2002 and now this year's races.

I'd hate to imagine the results this year if you had not run as hard as you did.

Weary Willie said...

Mike Cole said:
"I agree with you in that to me the bottom line really is stronger local organizations and thus more local candidates. These are the ones who drive our statewides up. "
9:17 AM

This is true and local organizations won't see the light of day if you don't hang in there. I know what defeat is. My home town is Knox, Indiana. In Starke County anything not democrat is a republican. The response I get from proclaiming my preference to a libertarian point of view reminds me of Bill Cosby's album "RIGHT".

"RIGHT! What's a Libertarian?"

Based on the Libertarian Party's past accessability to the media, I truly believe that your campaign in this election has brought the Libertarian Party option to local organizations and individuals. You may feel dissapointed but if it wasn't for your campaign I would not be talking to you now.

And if I am reading this correctly, Your campaign has eliminated the need to petition for a place on the ballot? It this correct? How do I get Libertarian Candidates on my City ballot?

Let's spend the next 2 years as dissceminator of the Libertarian Point of View, platform, and opinion so people like me who have just had eyes opened have ammunition to persuade others. Let's not let those eyes open start to wander because there is no more exposure. I think persuading others to see a point of view contrary to the same-ol-msm is easy if the ammunition and education is there. I've seen the lights go on when an optional point of view is put forth just to see it go out because it had no support.

A point of view would carry enormous weight if it were backed up by a local organization, and it related directly to the individual at a local level. We can call it "Trickle Up".

Thank goodness for the Liberty Beacon that got me here!

Mike Kole said...

Willie, like I said, my disappointment is probably just pride. I hold myself to a high standard, and retreat isn't an option. Don't worry. I'm far from giving up on this thing!

So, to run for local office, one needs to contact their County Chair. Here is a list of LPIN County affiliates:

For unaffiliated counties, contact LPIN Executive Director Kyle McDonald at, or call 317-920-1994.


Weary Willie said...

The link has nothing for Starke County. See my dilema? Right off the bat I'm stopped.

Mike Kole said...

Willie, you're not stopped. Call Kyle at the state HQ. He'll set you up.

Anyone can set up a committee by filling out a CFA-1 form, and filing it with the Secretary of State. CFA-1:

In an unaffiliated county, in order to appear on the ballot as a Libertarian candidate, you'll need to have the State Chair and State Secretary of the LPIN sign another form. Once that form is filed, you're on the ballot!

Weary Willie said...

I'm a dummy. Fill me in. Does anyone know what the statement "Illegal downspouts must be removed" on my water bill means?

I saw a woman measuring the distance between downspouts on a house in Knox.

Nepotism? anyone?

Weary Willie said...

Anyone can set up a committee by filling out a CFA-1 form, and filing it with the Secretary of State. CFA-1:

You were running for Secretary of State!
Another reason I'm glad I found the LPIN link.