Monday, April 25, 2011

Non-Strategic Voting

In Canada there is a debate between two types of voters: people that vote 'with their gut' and strategic voters. Since the conservatives are the party favored to win, strategic voting is typically reserved for people voting in the fashion most likely to unseat the incumbent Tory politician. This must take into account the fact that the Liberal opposition is not always the second candidate in the race - it is occasionally NDP, Bloc, or even Green, despite the fact that they have not attained a seat. This form of voting throws its support behind any other alternative, so long as it isn't Conservative (or, theoretically, whatever 'winning party' the voter dislikes.) On the flip side, voting with one's gut relies on the voter ignoring the dynamic, and focusing on the benefit gained from any vote to support a favored party/candidate; a lot of these voters think about the dollar funding given to a party from every vote they receive, and the candidate's likeliness to stay in politics if they are not elected in one race. 

The other dynamic in voting is between supporting the candidate in your riding and supporting the party they represent - both notions that are, in reality, fraught with peril. Finding official party platforms is incredibly easy, but forming a personal relationship with a candidate is easier. Considering how easily candidates swap parties, and that they are rarely required to vote with their party, a case could be made that it is more beneficial to vote far the candidate, hoping that they support your views regardless of the party.  However voting with the party could theoretically harness the support of a group of party MP's that support your views, though they may do so less of the time.

Observing the subsequent four voting profiles reveals the imbalances:
1. Voting with your gut for your candidate can yield the greatest satisfaction. If your candidate is elected, you are guaranteed someone in the house of commons that will accurately represent you. The downside is that you may or may not see much results from that representation, subject to the full house makeup.

2. Strategically voting for the candidate means that you will most likely not NOT support the person that is elected - this is different from supporting the candidate elected. This is the most rare voting style since it is not typically the case that people hate their candidate so much that they would support ANYone else (regardless of their beliefs.) This could be a good solution, however if you have been following your MP and dislike their voting history, but suspect they may win anyway.

3. Voting with your gut for a party means, again, that you can console yourself with the dollar of support if they lose, but you may also gain the benefit of mostly supporting what will occur in the house if the party wins and, again, harnessing a 'block' of votes in the house.

4. Strategically voting for a party means that you are more likely to enjoy election day, owing to the increased likelihood that the party you dislike will be ousted, but not necessarily the subsequent four years, since the elected MPs are more likely to be split between other parties.

Typically, then, if you want to micromanage your candidate and be heavily involved with politics your best plan is to vote for a candidate with your gut instinct (this requires the large amount of trust that if you find a candidate compelling, others will too, since if your candidate fails you are S.O.L)), but if you don't want to pursue further attention to politics, preferring to 'set-up' a government you like, then let them run it, you would benefit best from strategic party voting: It is easiest to assess a party by their history, and so you can examine the ruling party, decide if you like them or not, then take a minor gamble that the next party, whoever it is, will do better, since assessing the fitness of a party to run is ridiculously difficult.

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