Thursday, February 07, 2008

No We Can't

I've been looking over the official election returns from Super Tuesday, and think it's time we pause to congratulate some of the presidential candidates for their performances in the Missouri primary.

Let's hear it for Ralph Spelbring, Virgil Wiles, Daniel Gilbert, and Hugh Cort.

You may not have heard of these guys, but several hundred Missourians voted for them. Their vote totals were no threat to McCain, Romney, Huckabee, Obama, and Clinton -- combined, they accumulated less than one-tenth of one percent of the votes -- but they deserve credit for getting anyone to vote for them.

Let's look at Spelbring, who came in 9th among 9 Democrats. For some reason, 224 people cast their ballots for him. That's only 25 less than Chris Dodd got!

Who is Spelbring? I have no idea, but think about this. If you got your name on the ballot, and asked every single person you know -- friends, family members, co-workers -- to vote for you, could you get past the 200 vote mark? Probably not, but old Ralph did it. In fact, he got almost as many votes by himself as Gilbert, Cort, and Wiles combined.

Here's where it gets interesting. In order to get your name on the primary ballot in Missouri, you have to pay a fee of $1,000 and submit a petition with the signatures of at least 5,000 registered voters. So, at some point, Ralph Spelbring had thousands of people willing to help him get on the ballot -- but then only 224 of them voted for him! Not the most effective use of his thousand bucks, was it?

More intriguing were the results of the Libertarian primary, in which Wayne Root was the leading candidate with 372 votes, just over 18% of the total. However, Root didn't come in first. That honor went to "uncommitted," with 963 votes, almost half the Libertarian ballots cast.

Voting "uncommitted" is an odd concept. In this case, it means that nearly a thousand Missourians decided to get in their cars, drive to the polling place, wait in line until an election official found their name in the big book of registered voters, asked for a Libertarian ballot, then took it to the voting booth, where they chose "none of the above."

They could have accomplished the same thing by staying home! These must be the same people who participate in online surveys ("Do you like carrots? a) Yes b) No c) I Don't Know") and, after giving it a full five seconds of thought, pick choice C!

Actually, that's a little extreme. They don't choose A, B, or C -- because they're uncommitted.

Maybe they wouldn't commit to a candidate because they just couldn't find one they liked among the 27 possibilities on the Missouri ballot on Tuesday. To them, I can only ask that they consider throwing their support behind a man who could really use it.

With their help, and yours, next time we can get Ralph Spelbring into quadruple digits.