Wednesday, January 11, 2012

ron paul and the free staters

via memeorandum, i see that ron paul is getting a big head after his second place finish in the new hampshire primary  yesterday (i don't remember him asking everyone but santorum to drop out when ricky essentially tied romney in iowa). but i wonder how much yesterday's results can be attributed to the free state project.

the free state project was started in 2001 by libertarians who were tired of being shut out of the political process. the idea was to pick a single low-population state and to coax libertarians to move there and eventually take over the local politics, enact libertarian policies, and serve as an example to the nation of a genuine libertarian paradise. in 2003, the FSP selected new hampshire to be he "free state" and the goal was to get 20,000 libertarians to move there. free staters can go online and sign the FSP's "statement of intent", which is a promise to move to NH within 5 years of the date that 20k people sign the statement. obviously you are also allowed to move to NH before the 20k threshold is met.

according to the FSP's web site, 11,291 people have signed the statement and 986 have already moved to NH (and that is only counting the libertarian-minded people who registered with the site). while the sheer number of FS registrants is not enough to account for ron paul's 15k lead over jon huntsman, the candidate who came in 3rd in the NH primary, nearly 1,000 people of the sort who are motivated enough to uproot their lives and move to a new state for their political movement and then publicize their move online, are going to be the kind of outspoken politically active people who might influence indigenous NH voters. for example, in 2010, at least 10 free staters were elected to the NH house of representatives. they could not have won if they only had FSP votes.

in other words, ron paul shouldn't necessarily let his second place showing yesterday go to his head. it may be that a significant portion of his votes are due to something particular to new hampshire that won't apply in the remaining 48 states of the nomination contest.