Let's get dirty. Let's get political. When we asked our August readers whether they wanted to hear about the CSM8 election, the response was an overwhelming 'yes', with the proviso that we not bother with useless candidate interviews and that we go heavy on the popcorn/drama/schadenfreude, because after all, CSM season is incredibly silly despite all the protestations of gravitas from CCP. It combines the worst aspects of democracy and party politics with gamer culture (and naive gamer delusions about democracy and party politics) into one multithreaded mess of shit-flinging, starry-eyed idealism, bitter cynicism and - the fun bits - character assassination, political strategy and mass manipulation.
It is inevitably a very loud trainwreck, and that's before you put on a wizard hat, down six jagerbombs in an hour, and make suicide jokes while on live television. Not that I'd know anything about that.
Realtalk: The CSM8 Situation
CSM7 is over except for the lame duck bits, and no one in CSM7 seems to be running again with the exception of Trebor, so let's realtalk. That's the first thing CSM-watchers should notice: basically no one wants back in again. That's not good. Is it not good because of CCP? Is it not good because the CSM themselves were so toxic that they couldn't stand dealing with each other for another year? This situation seems like corporate officials and politicians resigning to 'spend more time with their family' - if you believe that basically everyone of consequence on CSM7 isn't bothering to run for re-election is somehow a meaningless coincidence, you're a fool.
Second, CCP Xhagen seems to be much less involved in the CSM, with Michael Bolton III - now known as CCP Dolan - seemingly taking over, given his recent posting about a DUST War Council. The original CSM was a Xhagen/Diagoras affair; Dolan might do a fine job as the CCP face of the CSM, but we don't know this yet - all that CSM-watchers know is that Something Appears To Be Shifting, with Dolan having much more influence and involvement.
Whether or not you're a fan of CSM7, its members suffer a perception problem: they have been seen as do-nothings, with Seleene being afk for much of the year after seizing the Chairmanship from Two Step. They have defended against this accusation by stating that CCP didn't really do much to argue against during their term, yet the perception remains. The realistic impact of CSM7's debatable accomplishments or lack thereof is that interest in the CSM is likely to be down across the board, which means that organized blocs will have an even greater advantage than in a high-public-interest election.
Single Transferable Vote and You
STV is the new voting system for CSM8, which means that 'overvotes' are a thing of the past. If I had run under a STV system for CSM7, my 10,058 votes would have translated into the top spot for me, as well as #2, 3 and 4 spots for whoever was under my ticket. I advocated against a STV system as I believe it would allow nullsec to completely rig the election with maximal efficiency; Two Step likewise warned against this. CSM8 will be a test of my Cassandra-like warnings.
Organization wins elections. Nullsec blocs are the most organized entities in Eve, because the disorganized ones get destroyed. STV gives voters a roster of candidates to rank; your average unaligned voter in hisec will put in maybe one or two candidate names. Your average nullsec voter, motivated by his bloc and their incentives/whipping methods, will fill out the entire ballot based on a voting guide provided to him by his leadership.
On Democracy and Delusion: No, Jita Park Doesn't Matter
Many candidates mistake how elections are actually won, and focus on irrelevancies like forums instead of whipping and organizing votes. These guys write pages and pages of posts on Jita Park, a subforum that is read by perhaps 1% of the voting population, and then get surprised when their amazing forum presence didn't translate into actual boots on the ground at election time. A prime example of this syndrome in CSM7 was Hans (who is a sweetie, a genuinely nice guy - the poor bastard) who spent hours in Jita Park earnestposting, and then was surprised when he only landed an alt slot on CSM7 instead of a full seat.
Elections are about getting votes, measuring your vote total, and all the blogging and forum posting in the world won't reach those voters - many of whom don't even know what a CSM is. Ripard Teg ran as a candidate from LAWN in CSM6 and expected his blog to pull him through; it didn't. Riverini ran for CSM7 and converted EN24 into a "RIVRNICSM7' advertisement (I never quite figured out how/why he removed some but not all of the vowels from his name) but couldn't manage the last alt slot. Roc Weiler campaigned for CSM6 and CSM7 by tweeting 'Roc the Vote' a bunch and blogging. This doesn't get the job done. A bunch of likes on Jita Park, a popular blog or a podcast interview listened to by maybe four hundred humans, tops, does not an election win.