Short explanation: We need 2% in the Iowa Governor's race because, under Iowa law, a minor party can gain major party status if its Governor candidate can get 2% of the vote.
Long explanation: The most common comment I hear from people when on the campaign trail is "Why should I vote for you? You can't win!". That is true; we are third party candidates and we are not going to win this election, however what our candidacy is offering is a path by which the Iowa government might eventually become smaller. Third parties can be very successful at getting what they want without actually winning elections. How? The two most successful third parties in American politics (in terms of accomplishing their policy goals) were the Populist party in the 1890s and the Socialist party of the 1910s. The Populists wanted direct election of Senators by the people (instead of the state legislatures) which they got when the 17th Amendment to the Constitution was passed in 1913, and a graduated federal income tax which they got when the 16th Amendment to the Constitution was passed (also in 1913). In the Socialist Party Platform of 1912, they wanted a minimum wage law, laws limiting labor by children, government provided unemployment benefits, a government pension program for the elderly, and the establishment of federal departments of Labor and Education all of which they eventually achieved. Neither the Populist Party nor the Socialist Party won many elections at all, and yet they were able to get most of their major issues implemented. How did they do this?
The way they were able to get what they wanted was that they were able to attract a small but consistent group of voters in every election (around 10% is all that is needed for this strategy to work). If a third party can attract 10% of the vote on a regular basis, the major parties will then be tempted to start poaching their issues in order to attract their voters because 10% of the votes is enough to decide most elections between a Republican and a Democrat. A minority of 10% that is strongly committed to their issues can actually be the most powerful group in an election if they are willing to swing their support to any candidate that supports their main issues.
The reason why the time is now ripe for a third party challenge to the major parties is that both major parties have become parties of expanded government. When I am campaigning, the first thing I ask people is "Do you think the government is too small right now, about the right size, or do you think it is too big?" and at least 70% of the time people tell me that they believe it is too big. Unfortunately, the government has kept growing and growing regardless of which major party is in charge. The last two presidents (one a Republican and the current one a Democrat) have expanded the size of the government more than any other presidents in history. What this means is that if you are one of the 70% of the voters I speak with who want the government to be smaller, you really don't have a major party right now that is willing to fight for that position. In contrast, the reason we are running is because we want the government to get smaller, and a vote for us is a clear vote for small government principles.
Here is the path by which our candidacy could start Iowa on the road to having a smaller government:
Step 1. Under Iowa law, a political party may gain major party status in Iowa by getting 2% of the vote for their Presidential candidate (in Presidential election years) or by getting 2% for their Iowa Governor candidate (in non-Presidential election years like 2010). The goal of our campaign is to get that 2% of the vote we need for the Libertarian Party to gain major party status. Gaining major party status means that candidates from our party automatically get ballot access in the next election (in other words, we don't have to collect thousands of signatures to get our candidates on the ballot like we must do now). Gaining major party status will allow many more Libertarians to run for public office so they can give lots of temptation to the major party candidates to steal our issues and thus steal our voters. Thus, the first step on the road to smaller government is for us to get 2% of the vote in 2010.
Step 2. In 2012 we run lots and lots of Libertarian candidates for as many offices as we can. These candidates spread the message of smaller government, and allow voters who are genuinely committed to making the government smaller an option at the voting booth.
Step 3. In 2014 and beyond, our candidates become more and more successful at attracting support, and the major parties realize that if they want to win elections, they must start adopting Libertarian issues with the result being that we get everything we want (just like the Populists and the Socialists were able to do).
If you are one of those 70% of people I talk to who really want to see the government get smaller, our candidacy is an opportunity to put your money where your mouth is. If you want the government to be smaller, but keep voting for candidates who make it bigger, smaller government will never happen. Your one vote is not going to decide the election between the Republican and the Democrat in this election so voting for one of the major party candidates is going to have no impact whatsoever on politics in Iowa and is therefore a wasted vote. On the other hand, your one vote cast for us will help us achieve the 2% that is required to get major party status for the Libertarian Party, and help us eventually restore liberty and small government to our state. We are asking those of you who honestly care about liberty and limited government to stand up for those principles by voting for us in November of 2010.