There are a number of glaringly obvious problems with this competition.
Right off the bat, I can tell you that there are candidates listed there who have not raised $5000, period. However, if they left out candidates who hadn’t accomplished that yet, there would only be three candidates listed. I’ll get to those candidates in a moment.
There is no indication how many individual contributions each candidate received, and the competition is not set up to gauge support in that manner. This is important for several reasons, not the least of which is that there is no way to tell if the candidates received contributions from others, or if all their funds came from them. While at first glance it would seem unethical for the candidates to contribute to themselves in a competition, since that normally would be viewed as rigging the results, there is in fact nothing stopping the candidates from using their own funds. The rules quite specifically state, “Donations from the candidates will be counted towards funds raised”.
Given that three of the candidates have a great deal of money (specifically the ones sitting in the top three right now) there is absolutely no way for anyone to tell if those candidates simply contributed to themselves, though it definitely appears that they have done exactly that. Furthermore, allowing candidates to contribute to themselves places the wealthy candidates at an unfair advantage, and explains the current results.
The current frontrunners are Wayne Allyn Root, Mike Jingozian, and Daniel Imperato. However, I have seen no indication whatsoever that those three have any significant following. Quite the contrary, since all three have been subjected to a great deal of negative opinion from libertarians.
Imperato in particular is a candidate who has no discernible support, and his “press releases” are met with a great deal of laughter and derision, including from Yours Truly. Many others across the blogosphere have voiced their concern that Imperato may not be completely sane, though he does have enough money to rig the competition with ease. He is now in third place, undoubtedly due to contributing to himself.
Root is new to the LP, and even still has a website called “Millionaire Republican”; as a result he is viewed with suspicion, and is considered to be a Republican by most. Furthermore, Root is running on what is primarily a pro-gambling platform, since he is a Vegas oddsmaker. While libertarians believe gambling should not be illegal, one cannot run a presidential campaign on that stance alone, and some of his other ideas are hardly libertarian. For example, he is pro-war (and as a matter of fact, regularly uses his initials, which spell “WAR”, in place of his name), whereas libertarians adopt a strict non-interventionist policy. Root is currently in first place, also undoubtedly due to contributing to himself.
Jingozian is simply not very well known. I recall reading his site back when his candidacy first came to my attention, and I got the distinct impression that his views are a cross between the Greens and the Libertarians. Few libertarians will support a fusion candidate. By necessity Green goals require governmental intrusion upon our property rights, whereas libertarians believe the government’s only proper activity is to protect our rights. A successful businessman, Jingozian is in second place, also undoubtedly because he contributed to himself.
That the three wealthiest candidates – who have no chance of actually gaining widespread support among LP members – would appear to be winning was a completely foreseeable situation, given how the competition is designed; and it is inevitable that those candidates will contribute to themselves, then use that poll to falsely state they are a “frontrunner” in the race for the LP nomination. It is equally strange that, based on my own estimate of those candidates’ personal wealth, they are in exactly the order I would expect.
That’s a very serious problem, not only because misrepresentations about their own support among LP members might mislead people who are not already familiar with the candidates, but also because as discussed, those candidates who are winning have some decidedly un-libertarian ideas which will undoubtedly reflect very poorly on the LP as a whole.
This poll may also have a very strange effect on the Libertarian Convention. If delegates vote pursuant to what their constituents want, they cannot in good conscience ignore an official LP poll, especially since they may not realize that the wealthy candidates are contributing to themselves, as that information is not available on the same page as the competition. The actual rules are contained in a PDF file.
As much as I disapprove of the LP keeping the majority of the contributions for itself, and stipulating that the other 40% must be used to the LP’s advantage, that does explain why they are allowing candidates to contribute to themselves since there are three wealthy candidates who would get little if any support otherwise.
Another matter of concern is that, according to the rules, the poll counts funds raised since each candidate announced their campaign, including any funds raised by an exploratory committee. That gives an advantage to candidates who announced early, though as it is that early advantage is canceled out by the wealthier candidates who contribute to themselves. Again, it is impossible to ascertain the amount of actual support each candidate has during the course of the competition, which negates any possible usefulness the competition might otherwise have.
Last but not least, even in a poll where actual money is involved, “None Of The Above” rated fourth (for those of you not familiar with the Libertarian Party, delegates can actually vote for NOTA rather than to nominate a candidate). Quite honestly, I think it’s a very popular choice in this presidential election, and if not for the three wealthy candidates contributing to themselves, it would be ranked firmly in first place. NOTA is almost $2000 ahead of the next most popular candidate, which is “Future candidate”; in other words, those contributing to this competition (not counting the first three who are obviously contributing to themselves) by far prefer none of the candidates. NOTA and FC, if placed into one category as it should be, would be roughly equivalent to the current third-place competitor who contributed to himself, and firmly in first place if the three wealthy candidates were discounted due to contributing to themselves.
That says a lot.
Can the serious LP candidates overcome this negativity, based in a lack of excitement about the announced candidates, and a great deal of excitement about Ron Paul, who is running as a Republican? I honestly don’t know, but I somehow doubt it. The LP may end up not nominating a presidential candidate for 2008.
_______________________Sources: Last Free Voice Libertarian Party Originally posted on Adventures In Frickintardistan