Jo Jorgensen, Libertarian Candidate for President and Guerrilla Warfare
Many people believe that a third-party candidate cannot win under our present system of governance. For this reason, they vote for the lesser of two evils out of fear. But, there is a path to victory for Jo Jorgensen and other candidates who do not belong to the Democrat and Republican establishments. That path is narrow, but people place riskier bets every day, and with a bit of guerrilla warfare, the path widens and victory is within reach.
The Odds of a Libertarian Victory in 2020
If you ask a dozen people what the odds are of a third-party winning the presidency in 2020, they’ll likely tell you it’s impossible. This might be true if we had a national popular vote. But, we have an electoral college system, and its rules make it possible for a Libertarian Party victory in 2020. Consider the 12th Amendment of the US Constitution. There is a no majority clause in the amendment that calls for a contingency election.
No Majority Clause of the 12th Amendment
The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice.No Majority Clause, 12th Amendment of the US Constitution
A Contingency Election in 2020
We define the majority of the electoral college vote as greater than 50% of the votes counted. Consider a close election where the Democrat and Republican each get 49% of the electoral vote, and third party candidates get 2% of the vote. Under those circumstances, the House of Representatives would cast a ballot vote for the President, and the Senate would select the Vice President. In other words, out of 538 electors, if 11 of them go to third party candidates, then it is possible for the election to go to the floor.
To put this into perspective, consider the northern region of New England. If a third-party candidate were to win just Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire, then the election would go to the floor. Furthermore, there is historic precedent. The United States has had contingent elections twice in its history under the 12th Amendment. In 1824, no candidate for the presidency held a majority, and Congress held a contingent election where they elected John Quincy Adams as President on February 8, 1825. The US held its second contingent election in 1837. At that time, no vice presidential candidate won the majority of votes and the Senate subsequently held a contingent election for Vice President. On February 8, 1837, Richard M. The Senate elected Johnson on the first ballot by a vote of 33 to 16.
By the numbers, there have been 58 elections, and 45 administrations. One could deduce that there is therefore about a 4% chance that the election goes to a floor vote. This estimate is not very statistically significant given the small number of elections that have been held. Additionally, the President and Vice President are a package deal in the general election. But compare this to the lottery. Millions of people play for a 1/302,575,350 chance at winning Mega Millions and most of them lose. By this standard, the odds are very good that the election goes to the floor with a well-run, state-centric campaign.
Can a Libertarian Win the Floor Vote?
This is difficult, but not impossible. Democrats hold 233 seats, Republicans hold 197 seats, and Libertarians hold one seat. By these numbers, it seems likely that Democrats would choose their nominee (presumably Joe Biden), and Republicans would choose Donald J. Trump. By default, the Democrats would win. But that is only if they do not consider externalities. Imagine if Trump got 49% of the electoral college vote, Biden got 40%, and third parties including Jo Jorgensen, Howie Hawkins and others collectively got 11% of the vote. Imagine further if Trump were to also get the plurality of the popular vote. Under these circumstances, there would be uproar on the right if Joe Biden were to become president. It is possible, therefore, that to prevent major civil unrest and an attempted coup, that the two major parties would seek a compromise. This is where the Libertarian Party comes in.
The Libertarian Party vs. Other Third Party Choices
People consider the Green Party and the Democratic Socialists of America to be hard-left. They consider the Constitution Party and others to be hard-right. By contrast, the Libertarian Party does not fit into the left-right paradigm of politics. Libertarianism is about maximizing freedom, and this includes economic liberty and civil liberties. There’s something there for liberals and conservatives alike. Therefore, it’s entirely reasonable for the House of Representatives to select Jo Jorgensen as President to prevent the next Civil War.
How Can Jo Jorgensen Win a Few States?
One of the first things that Jo Jorgensen’s campaign did after winning the Libertarian Party nomination was to hijack the #ImWithHer hashtag on Twitter.
This act triggered liberals of all stripes to come out of the woodwork. They let Jorgensen know that they were not with her. They were still with the other her. This sparked a flurry of tweets from top influencers on Twitter who made it known that they were still die-hard Hillary supporters. This tweetstorm caused the #ImWithHer hashtag to trend, and Jorgensen doubled her Twitter following overnight. But there’s more.
Attacked Instead of Ignored by the Twitterati
The controversy caught the attention of comedian and Syrius radio host and writer, Dean Obeidallah. His article, The truth about ‘I’m with her’ appeared on CNN and dozens of other websites that syndicated the content. It made its way to Reddit and various social media posts where comments ranged from high praise to allegations that libertarians lack imagination. This candidate and primary election would otherwise have been ignored entirely by the mainstream media. But this unimaginative repurposing of a 2016 hashtag amplified her message. For better or for worse, people now know who she is, and they cannot ignore Jo Jorgensen. This is guerrilla warfare.
First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you.Nicholas Klein, 1914
Ridiculed Instead of Ignored by Mainstream Media
Jo Jorgensen wasn’t ignored by the media entirely. She got the expected coverage by Reason Magazine and a handful of liberty-leaning websites. But there’s more. The Washington Times published a story, Libertarians nominate psychologist grandmother to be presidential candidate. Of note, the original title of the piece was Jo Jorgensen tapped as 2020 Libertarian Party nominee for president. But Jorgensen didn’t hide from this cute jab. Instead, she owned it.
The Libertarian Party delegates made one other move that in retrospect, was brilliant from a guerrilla warfare perspective. At the top of the ticket, they chose a pragmatic candidate who is palatable to mainstream voters. But in the VP slot, they chose Spike Cohen. Spike, an anarchist, was originally on the Vermin Supreme ticket where his policy included recreational plutonium and free ponies. Naturally, he has a real-world policy platform (of sorts) too. But those media personalities who wish to ridicule the Libertarian Party and its candidates may turn to Spike Cohen’s profile picture, and this could work to the campaign’s advantage.
These guerrilla warfare techniques are enough to drive Jo Jorgensen’s name onto the national stage. But, winning states requires ground game. It also requires careful thought behind state targets. New England may be a good place to start. After all, Maine is experimenting with Ranked Choice Voting and splits its electoral votes across multiple candidates. Furthermore, you have the Free State Project alive in New Hampshire, where thousands of libertarian transplants are ready to take to the streets. But, there may be better choices.
Target Audiences, Analytics and Other Marketing Tactics
To win states, the Jorgensen campaign must define its target audiences. On the left, one audience may consist of Bernie Bros who will not vote for Joe Biden. On the right, an audience may consist of Never Trumpers who will not vote for Donald Trump. With the right data, and a talented analytics guru on staff, the Jorgensen campaign could make a data-driven decision on where to go, and who to target. Data points on a state-by-state level might include:
- The number of registered Democrats who did not vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016
- Total registered Republicans who did not vote for Donald Trump in 2016
- The number of registered Libertarians
- The total population
- Metrics on the local economy under both Obama and Trump
- The number of GOA members, weed smokers, and other likely one-issue voters in the state
- The anticipated attention that Trump and Biden will give to the state vs. all others
- The anticipated costs associated with travelling to and among the various states
Analyzing all of this data (and more) is no easy task, but it is the foundation for a successful third-party, state-centric campaign. This analysis would determine how time and money are spent up until Tuesday, November 3, 2020. With such a short period of time until the election, this analysis is even more urgent if the Libertarian Party wants a shot at victory.
Next Steps Towards a Jo Jorgensen Victory in 2020
The Dems have put forth an unexciting, somewhat creepy candidate. The GOP has put forth a highly divisive incumbent. They can find a narrow path to victory if they ground their campaign in winning a few states.
Social Media Marketing
The Jorgensen campaign appears to have social media on lockdown. People will stop ignoring them, as they switch gears to ridicule and attacks. This lays the foundation for future monuments.
Ground Game, Podcasts and Other Media
Assuming that the campaign does their analytics well, they’ll reach the right audiences on the ground. Their social media campaign and party connections may get them spots on podcasts like Joe Rogan and Ebro in the Morning. But there’s one thing missing.
Content Strategy and SEO
The campaign needs to touch potential voters on all fronts. In this digital age, people spend more time on their mobile devices than in face-to-face conversations. Layer in the after-effects of several months under COVID-19 lockdown, and it becomes clear that maximizing their digital footprint is essential. While their social media campaign is firing on all cyllinders, the Jorgensen campaign needs to work on their content strategy and SEO.
Presently, the website has lots of inbound links, and it will get more. This is a powerful tool that will help their pages rank on Google. But they’re lacking in content. Presently, the campaign’s policy page is a handful of snippets with just one link to a page with greater depth. Additionally, all of the images on the website are tiny and hard to share. It is as if they did not believe they could win the party nomination, and now they must scramble to flesh out the section.
Adding pages of content to the policy section of the website is not enough. They will need to do keyword research to optimize the titles of each of the planks of their policy section, and they’ll need to get a blog going. They need an army of writers, and someone to point them in the right direction.
Additionally, they need a well-developed digital ads campaign. If they do it right, they’ll include Facebook, Instagram, Google Adwords, and other platforms to varying degrees. Voters are online. Therefore, the campaign must amplify their content as much as possible. Banner impressions can fill the top of their marketing funnel, and retargeted ads can bring people back to the site when they forget who Jo Jorgensen is.
Conversion Rate Optimization, Email Acquisitions & Social Media Audience-Building
If they do all of these things, it’s still not enough. People will visit the website, and some will donate, but most will leave. Potential voters need other CTAs (calls-to-action) to nurture them towards the polling stations in November. This means that the website needs a bit of conversion optimization, so that voters know what to do after they read a policy plank or an article, beyond pulling out their wallets. Email capture forms and CTAs, plus stronger drives to social media where they can learn more are essential. But that’s still not enough.
Herding Cats in the Libertarian Community
The Jorgensen campaign needs its community of libertarians to pull together and support the campaign. Unlike members of the more collectivist parties, many Libertarians do not have community and collaboration in their DNA. After all, they center their entire ethos on individual rights.
The good news for the campaign is that it has a unity ticket, consisting of one minarchist and one anarchist. There’s something in it for voters and activists alike. The bad news for the campaign is that besides the challenging task of herding cats, libertarians fight like cats and dogs. Normies will see this as a huge problem, because they have not been fully indoctrinated into the liberty mindset. The campaign will drive disaffected Democrats and Republicans to their social media pages. Then, these people will meet a bunch of purists arguing about the nuances of perfect libertarianism who drown out the voices of the more collaborative members of these groups. This does not give them a sense of security in leaving the more familiar groups from which they came, and they leave.
Freedom of Expression vs. Free Association
Many libertarian group admins on Facebook and elsewhere give people nearly free reign in how they communicate. They do this because of accusations that they are not real libertarians from free speech absolutists. But these free speech advocates are ignoring an equally important pillar of libertarian philosophy: free association.
A Facebook group could be thought of as digital (leased) private property. This means that the property occupant, namely the group admins and moderators get to set the rules, and people are free to stay or leave. If the Jorgensen campaign wants a shot at victory, they must control the narrative in their public groups. One way to do this is to give die hard libertarians a private space where they can air their grievances. Such private (and perhaps, secret) groups can have stricter rules for admittance. Newbies can stick to the public groups, where greater attention is paid to moderation of the conversations.
Libertarian Victory in 2020?
All political campaigns are difficult. This is particularly true for third-party campaigns. But, they are not impossible. There is a narrow path to victory, but it exists. Furthermore, winning is relative. Jo Jorgensen may not become the next POTUS. However, winning states, winning voters and winning minds are all measures of success. The ultimate question is, how much winning can Jo Jorgensen achieve?