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Why I Am Unlikely To Vote In A Primary - The Mad Schemes of Dr. Tectonic [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Beemer

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Why I Am Unlikely To Vote In A Primary [Jan. 7th, 2008|08:48 pm]
Beemer
I was originally going to title this post "Why I Don't Care About Primaries", but that's not quite true. I do care, in the sense that there are some outcomes I would prefer over others. But I'm still unlikely to vote in one.

A lot of people have been posting the results of various pick-a-candidate quizzes. I would like to summarize my results in graphical form:



So, okay. Primaries. The point is to pick which potential presidential candidate you prefer, right? And I could look at this ordering (even though it shuffles around a little bit depending on how each quiz is structured -- and how I'm feeling when I fill it out) and choose one of them.

But. Come November, we're not going to be picking amongst all these candidates. We're going to be choosing between one of the blue ones or one of the red ones. And in that case, it doesn't. freakin'. matter. I want a blue dot. Any of the blue dots. The very worst of the blue dots is nearly twice as good as very the best of the red. And if you throw out Giuliani as an obvious outlier, the average blue candidate (and note that they're clustered pretty tightly) is almost FOUR TIMES better than the average red candidate. I fit a gaussian to each of the parties. The two humps are NINE SIGMA APART. Differences between individual candidates? Totally irrelevant on that scale.

So obviously, what I want is for the most electable Democrat to win the primaries. And I have absolutely no idea who that is.

See, I can kind of wrap my mind around the thinking of people for whom the X-axis on my graph is reversed. I have to turn my worldview upside down and it's very weird, but I can at least sort of understand (in a hypothetical way) how that group of people thinks.

These people are also totally irrelevant to the decision-making process, though, because their graph looks just like mine, only backwards. So they're going to vote for whichever red dot ends up on the ballot. Choice of which particular blue (or red) dot it is will not affect their voting in the least.

No, the voters that will determine whether I am happy (blue dot) or sad (red dot) on November 3rd are the undecideds, and I don't understand them AT ALL. These are people for whom the two curves overlap significantly, with red and blue all interspersed and mixed up. And obviously, that makes no sense to me. I just don't get from what perspective you'd look at the candidates and see them all tangled up like that. The mind of the undecided voter is a complete mystery to me. Would Joe Undecided be more likely to vote for Obama or Clinton? McCain or Romney? Who knows? Not me, that's for sure! Joe Undecided confuses the hell out of me.

And so, the one thing I want from the primaries -- for the most electable Democrat and the least electable Republican to be the ones who get the nominations -- is the thing that I am utterly incapable of making an effective judgment about. Therefore, if I vote in a primary, all I'm doing is adding noise to the system. And thus, I think the most sensible thing to do is for me to just stay out of it and hope that people who do have that insight are able to carry the day. (Because it's not like I can even tell who has that understanding and defer to their judgment! The whole problem is just opaque to me.)

And that's why I'm not planning on voting on Super Tuesday. I just don't see any benefit to it.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: ui_tomcat
2008-01-08 04:46 am (UTC)
The benefits of participating in the primary is getting to participate in the convention as a delegate. Getting to put your ideas forward about the party platform. I'm doing everything I can to ensure a Democrat in the White House.
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[User Picture]From: flwyd
2008-01-08 06:33 am (UTC)
I'm not registered as a Democrat or Republican and I plan to be in Yunan province on February 5th where primaries really don't matter, but I though Colorado (at least the Democrats therein) holds caucuses on super-duper-über Tuesday. It is therefore extremely unlikely that you will vote in a primary.
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[User Picture]From: dcseain
2008-01-08 01:18 pm (UTC)
That reminds me that i need to write to my state reps in Richmond, as they're considering implementing party registration here in Virginia, which i oppose heartily. Our non-partisan registration has served us well, and seeing as almost half of all elected offices in the commonwealth are non-partisan, really, what's the point of party registration.
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[User Picture]From: jofish22
2008-01-08 10:31 am (UTC)
wot is vertical axis?
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[User Picture]From: dcseain
2008-01-08 01:16 pm (UTC)
I was wondering that, too.
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[User Picture]From: melted_snowball
2008-01-08 02:07 pm (UTC)
He's training a mixture model. Those are the densities of the two normals in the mixture.
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[User Picture]From: lvlndlthr
2008-01-08 12:54 pm (UTC)
And your allowed to make such decision, and enjoy your freedom to do so here in the wonderful U.S.A.. We Love you and your hubby's regardless. Trust me Chris and I are not seeing eye to eye on the candidates this year at all. We more or less chuckle and tease each other about it because you are absolutely right their will be one blue, and one red on top of the lists, and whomever that blue candidate is, it will be the one I am voting for.
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[User Picture]From: thedragonweaver
2008-01-08 01:45 pm (UTC)
California manages to stick at least one proposition in each primary, and since they moved the date up we get two primary elections this year.

Did I mention the state is broke?
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From: orbitalmechanic
2008-01-08 02:11 pm (UTC)
But primary voting isn't just a stepping stone to voting in the final election. Those votes do trade power among the delegates, as someone's already said. They raise voter turnout which makes more demands on the candidates. What you're calling "noise" is what I would call "representation," and although I totally understand your fears of pushing someone unelectable onto the ticket, no one knows how to solve that problem. No one knows whether Obama or Clinton or Edwards is more likely to win, and I don't see anyone else getting the nomination.

The way I think about it is this. When voter turnout is very low, candidates (and current elected officials!) can buy votes cheaply, with small concessions to the loudest people. When the party base is broad, diverse, and active, it demands a more nuanced and thoughtful position.
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[User Picture]From: dpolicar
2008-01-08 03:44 pm (UTC)
Clearly, what you should do is register as a Republican and vote for the candidate you like least in their primary.
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[User Picture]From: melted_snowball
2008-01-08 04:06 pm (UTC)
Or think is least electable. I think I'd vote for Huckabee except that I have all of these fears of reaping what I sowed.
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[User Picture]From: dpolicar
2008-01-08 04:20 pm (UTC)
We could get you a "Blame me! I voted for Huckabee." bumper sticker.
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[User Picture]From: thedragonweaver
2008-01-09 03:34 am (UTC)
I have always said that this is a very bad tactic,because the candidate in the opposing party may well get elected, and then you're stuck with the guilt of having helped them into office. (California's primary is no longer fully open, but you can ask for any party's ballot at the front desk, so you can actually vote for a party you are not registered for.)
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[User Picture]From: dpolicar
2008-01-09 03:51 am (UTC)
Well, I agree with you that, by getting involved in this way, you become more actively responsible for the result than if you just sit back and stay out of it. Whether this is a good reason to avoid doing it or not is a whole different question.

That said, I wasn't actually serious. I also think that it's a bad tactic, but for a different reason: it corrupts the democratic process, which I tend to find some value in.

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