Friday, November 14, 2008

Crossing the Geographical Wires

Here's a thought experiment. I'm not suggesting we do this, but it's an interesting thought experiment.

Imagine that voting for president works the same way it does right now, with one tiiiiiny little difference: any citizen can cast their vote in any one state (or county, or however you divide it).

So I could cast my vote for MA, where I live, or I could cast my vote in, say, Texas.

Put aside the idea of ideal behavior: people aren't ideal. Instead, think about how many people of what types you think would take advantage of this "switched voting", and what you think the effects might be as years pass and people get used to the idea. What sort of new groups do you think voters would create to try to leverage their votes?

I'll get things started: I think that most groups of independents (such as libertarians) would get together and agree to win a specific (low-population) state. "Green party wins Alaska!" would be hilarious...


Olick said...

If organization is achieved... Then eventually this will become a bigger game than before.

Parties will have to strategize, not to get the most votes in certain states, but to spread the votes they get EVERYWHERE well enough to win. And, say, they hear the Green party is trying to get Alaska, so one of the other parties thinks that it is easy pickins, and tries to usurp the votes.

But voting, currently, is a fairly personal thing. You cast your opinion, and while lots of people cast on party lines, or whatever an organization tells you to vote for, the all important "swing voters" vote on thier own opinion, and will probably vote in thier own state.. So if we see this conflict, they become a sort of base-level difficulty.

I'm almost imagining that it could evolve even further down two party lines, where strategizing with faithfuls is the new election, and swing voters are a difficulty to overcome, not hearts to win.

Craig Perko said...

I don't know if that's true, but it's along the lines of what I was thinking.

But the reason I bring it up is because 40+ of our fifty states vote flat party lines, which is really very stupid. That means that no matter how GOOD one candidate is and how BAD the other, they'll still get their allocated states.

With this method, chaos is added to the pot. How many people would decide to cast their vote in an early-resolution state? How many in a late-game state? How many people will assume that MA is pretty secure and decide to vote in a swing state? Will it be enough to "desecure" MA?

Furthermore, will it educate voters as to the nature of their voting? After all, voting DOESN'T MATTER at present. I mean, you're more likely to get killed by a car while going to the polling station than to cast an important vote.

Will this get voters to try to leverage their votes? Will it get voters to think about things more?

I think it's an interesting bunch of questions!

Isaac said...

First, this rule would eliminate local interests entirely, weakening individual state lobbying and increasing national interests. Not sure if that's good or bad.

Mass chaos in the short run, of course, as everyone adjusts to the new rules. I would expect two or three election cycles before anyone really figures it out. That's probably the case for any rule change though.

Campaign strategy now becomes a part of the individual voter's decision-making. As mentioned, a lot of people would probably opt out, either by voting in their own state or by not voting at all.

Expect more ads aimed at the party base, telling them where to vote, and proportionately less attention to swing voters.

I suspect that it would end up increasing voter frustration as people vote and lose in a specific state.

Note that you can get the effect of this rule by moving to a different state. One way to estimate the effects of this is to look at groups that have advocated something like this and extrapolate additional voters that are slightly less invested.

Craig Perko said...

I'm not sure increasing voter frustration is a bad thing. Voters are in a really dumb place right now.

I just really don't like the idea that 80+% of the vote is stagnant. That's pretty repulsive.

isaac w said...

Don't really have an opinion on this; I'm a dirty forriner with not much interest in US politics other than whether you're going to screw us over or not.

In Australia though it feels like the independents have a lot more power than in the US. The two parties are about evenly split, so a lot of the time the fate of a bill is determined by one right-wing christian dude, one Green party dude, and a couple of independent MPs.

My real reason for commenting though is that my tag was previously isaac, but it looks like there's another dude in the world with my name :(. So I will now go by: isaac w, to avoid confusion!

Craig Perko said...

Independents have NO power here, which is one thing I'm not happy about.

I encourage all posters to have links with their names that actually point somewhere. The other Isaac doesn't have a valid link.