A slate is a group of people running together for political office on the same ballot, and often for the same office (in multi-member districts).
For the purposes of this entry, Slates are UC Davis school government candidates' version of political parties on Campus. While some view them as cliques, many in ASUCD recognize their purpose in providing support and assistance to candidates and senators.
Slates currently represented in the ASUCD Senate include:
There are currently two Independents in elected position as well (Maxwell Kappes, who has affiliated himself with like a dozen slates at this point; and Liam Burke, who is not-so-secretly with BOLD; for those keeping score at home).
Former slates that are no longer represented in ASUCD include:
Previous slates are discussed in more detail in ASUCD Senate History
Slates: A Misnomer
Generally speaking, slates are coalitions of candidates who team up to campaign for an office during a single election. Political parties differ in that they have members who are not candidates for office, they field candidates in multiple elections, and they tend to vote as blocks. What is generally referred to as "major slates" (currently NOW, SMART, and BEST, and previously L.E.A.D., Student Focus, and others) should be more aptly described as political parties, since they field more candidates over a number of elections, generally have a well-organized campaign staff, and have partisan supporters that identify with the slate similar to how voters in the U.S. identify as Democrats or Republicans.
Minor slates (generally 2 or 3 candidates) are more accurately described as slates, as they tend to be lower-key and generally do not run in more than 1 election.
Benefits of Running on a Slate
Slates offer a lot of benefits that running as an independent could never offer. Independents may have street cred, but slates already have an open door into many organizations. Candidates receive a lot of support from the campaign, as well as from slate partisans that would otherwise not vote for the candidate. Also, voters tend to rank members of a slate 1-6, so if a fellow candidate gets knocked out the candidates generally receives a bump in votes. The reverse is also true, if the candidate gets knocked out, running on a slate makes it more likely that somebody with similar political views as the candidate gets elected.
Slates also have a past history. This can be a disadvantage, but people are more likely to support your cause if you helped them or appealed to them in the past. Brand name recognition is key, and many slates wear clothing to show slate affiliation. For example, LEAD wore red, GO wore green, Student Focus (and now BOLD) wore yellow, and Friends Urging Campus Kindness wore punk-rockish spray-painted stencil art on shirts.
Slates are able to pool their campaign funds to purchase campaign materials such as shirts, hats, flyers, and facebook ads. Also, they often have the support of veteran campaign managers, treasurers, and volunteers.
And on a slate, one person does not have to go to every group. Fellow candidates can pick up the slack. And, just for note: sometimes, the less a slate expects your vote, the less people they send to your club meeting. This tactic of allowing an ambush of the poor candidate assigned to go to Davis College Republicans isn't very effective at getting votes, but that person has the least status in the clique and thus deserves to be sent. (In the Fall 2005 Senate Elections all 13 candidates visited the DCR. DCR was generally hostile towards the entire LEAD slate and Spencer Higgins of Student Focus while endorsing Jimmy Moresco and Joe Harney.)
The Winter 2013 ASUCD Election may be an example of the power of slates or an example of the weakness of the Independent candidates for that particular election. This was the first election since the Winter 2005 ASUCD Election to have three slates running for Senate and also the first election in several years to have no Independent candidate elected to the Senate. There were only three Independent candidates on the ballot in the Winter 2013 ASUCD Election and their support was minimal despite the fact that one candidate was part of a large campus organization, (Mustard Seed Ministry) and another was endorsed by the Aggie and spent a significant amount of time on his campaign. Past elections prove however that both of these facts do not lead to a candidate being elected, regardless of their slate or non-slate affiliation.
However, although it is easy to show that candidates running on a slate tend to do better than candidates running independently, this may be wholly or partially due to slates recruiting higher quality candidates or higher quality candidates choosing to run with slates rather than any necessary advantage that being on a slate gives. It is also possible that voters who support a candidate on a slate are more likely to support other candidates on that slate.
Of course, the most important benefit of being on a slate is below:
It doesn't matter too much if you lose, as long as some of your friends get elected — your friends on Senate or the ASUCD President will get you a nice job on a commission. Independents who lose sometimes end up getting nice jobs, too. See Jon Leathers, Kris Fricke, Arie Van Gemeren, and Joe Harney.
In addition, the President gets a $20,000 budget, part of which is discretionary. It has a good chance of shoring up the support of a key constituency, though it has been used for other reasons as well. The Vice President also has a budget. It's like Senator Gabe Bang said at a Senate meeting, "It would be really hard for my fraternity to have raised that much money; it's a lot better to raise student fees by a dollar or two." Slates back you up, and protect you from unnecessary press.