Thursday, July 26, 2012

Still More About None Of The Above

Conor Friedersdorf gives advice to voters like me who are dissatisfied with both Obama and Romney:
If you aren't crazy about the Republican or Democrat, but think of your vote from a utilitarian perspective and are uninterested in purely symbolic gestures, here's how to impact presidential elections in two easy steps:

1) Postpone your calculated support for someone you don't like until you're standing in the election booth. Before then, support the third-party nominee you'd like to see win. If a pollster asks who you support give their name, not the major-party candidate you may wind up voting for in the end. Doing so doesn't squander your vote on someone who won't win, but could be the difference between a Libertarian or Green Party candidate being included or excluded from TV debates.

2) Think about whether or not you live in a swing state. If so, maybe it makes more sense to vote Republican or Democrat. But if you live in a state like California, where the Democrat will obviously win, or a state like Utah where the Republican is obviously going to win, your vote is going to have a lot more impact if you're part of a third-party surge that signals disaffection to others.

These two strategies make sense partly because a third-party needn't win or even swing an election to make a difference. Neither the Green nor the Libertarian parties are likely to ever win the presidency. But that needn't be the goal. If Republicans or Democrats notice a third party getting traction -- that is to say, 8 or 10 or 15 percent of the vote -- they'll start co-opting its issues.

That's worth something.
Freidersdorf's point about polling makes sense, but getting polled is unlikely. No one in this house answers the phone if the number is unrecognized.

His second point reinforces points I made earlier. Citizens living in red or blue states really don't get to cast a vote that matters if they don't support the dominant party. South Dakota is a red state; in fact, it's so red it makes a raw steak look well done. A vote for a Obama is as big of waste as a vote for Gary Johnson or Dr. Jill Stein. Getting Libertarians or Greens close to double digits seems as realistic as having Obama carry the state.

Friedersdorf's advice will probably anger partisans, but it gives us dissatisfied voters a strategy and logical support for voting for someone other than Romney or Obama.

1 comment:

caheidelberger said...

His advice doesn't anger me. I can work with the idea of withholding that vote until the last moment, when it matters most. Use that third-party advocacy to pull the candidates your way.