Over-thinking it - Macleans.ca

Over-thinking it


Alice Funke takes apart the strategic voting movement.

I think it’s time to say that these projects are not politically sophisticated enough to get their calls correct, and while they get a lot of people engaged in our democracy, which I can’t ever be opposed to, they do so under false pretenses: namely that you can know the outcome in a riding ahead of time, and game the system to your own ends.

The record of the two main strategic voting campaigns in 2011 proves that you cannot.


Over-thinking it

  1. I agree. Strategic voting doesn’t work. We’ve seen that in several elections now. Vote for the person you want in there, no one else. 

  2.  Surely the previous comment is a no-brainer truth.  Give a political junkie a computer and he will dream about strategic voting. 

  3. Welcome to the world of game theory, incomplete information, and probability.  It’s one most grown-ups have to engage from time to time, and voting is surely one of those times.  I don’t have much use for organizations that try to mobilize strategic votes, but don’t most thinking citizens give at least some passing consideration to the best *likely* outcome their votes may influence?  Some countries have run-off elections after the first ballot.  Here, we sometimes need to do that calculus in the sole round we’re provided.  Nothing wrong with that, in my opinion.

    In a society so catered to individual satisfaction and preference (though largely of an illusory nature), we need to remind ourselves that collective decision making (such as elections) will never feel the same.  Go to Harveys if you want a burger fixed to your precise specifications, but understand that large scale democracy sometimes requires a choice between two or three sets of fixings – no substitutions allowed.

    • I fully support Sean’s ‘democracy as choosing a burger’ theorum.  Many scholars think that the key to voter engagement and rectifying the ‘democratic deficit’ is to have people vote by choosing what burgers they want at scheduled burger stations during an election.  If you order a single burger with bacon and cheese, and get a double burger with onions and pickles, you voted Conservative.  If you order just a bun into which you may pour your dreams about the ideal burger, and look down on others who ordered differently, you voted Liberal.  If you order a burger with fries and a drink and a soft-serve ice cream and a car and a pony, the NDP gets a vote.  Veggie burger: Greens.    And if you order a hotdog, you voted Bloc.  Democracy can be delicious, you see.

      • Yeah but you might have to wait 5 years and or for the budget to be balanced before your tory double burger arrives – serve you right if it’s cold when or if you ever get it. What’s more, you shouldn’t be at all surprised if they tell ya it’s been downsided to a hot dog instead. Bon appetite. Hope it doesn’t arrive wrapped in a donation appeal. 

        • You see, that’s the beauty of burger voting. You’re stuck with the burger that you did or did not willingly vote for, and may even be left with a burger you never would have voted for had its true identity been revealed to you at the time of voting. It’s called burger democracy – learn to love it, or you’re a communist.

  4. Canada should replace the FPTP voting with an Alternate Vote ballot. By ranking your choices your vote can be transferred to your next preference, should your 1st choice be eliminated by finishing last.
    The AV ballot would put to an end Strategic Voting. The LPC blundered when PM Chretien did not adopt the AV ballot when they controlled both the House and the Senate. Had they, there would never have been a Harper Government in Canada!

  5. Strategic voting works well enough if you follow politics closely, watch national polls, and have the pulse of your riding.

    I have at least two NDP-leaning friends who knew well enough to vote Liberal in their home ridings — they had an impact on the vote, and they guessed right.

    Trying to organize it nation-wide — the critique here is true.  If you aren’t dead sure of your home riding, vote for the candidate you want.

  6. While i don’t disagree with some of Alice’s conclusions ie., the amount of effort is disproportionate to the results and may indeed have created more smoke then fire, thus mererly confusing many. I have to take some issue with her. First off isn’t she basically whomping the stategic guys for not having hindsight in an extrordinary election, where it is indeed likely their predictions will not apply the next time around? IOWs, if it had been less of an all change election they mave have upped their averages quite a bit. And isn’t she using hindsight to whack them for their lack of hindsight? Oh well…
    There is at least anecedotal evidence that SV can make a difference. I voted at least twice[ not in the same election] for the NDP in VI North, where the libs were nowhere, but the results in both cases were a squeaker. Once for the dippers, once for the cons. In the first instance i at least had the feeling that my strategic vote had pushed the candidate over the top, and had helped to make the race a close call in the other loss for the dippers. Agreed however that we should make our own call at a strictly local level and leave it at that. I didn’t need any help in figuring out where my best interets lay. On the whole  i’m not infavour of SVoting – as it has a tendency to increase both cynicism and polarization; better to try n persuade your  neighbour to your pov.

  7. “I think it’s time to say that these projects are not politically sophisticated enough to get their calls correct …. ”

    Good luck, Ms Funke, trying to get left wing types to believe they are not sophisticated enough to read minds and predict the future. Libs and NDP are all about science and intelligence, don’t you know, and will convince themselves they can predict future next time even if they haven’t been able to in past.

    • Cons also try strategic voting…and that is also the topic here. Not confusing science and intelligence with the ability to read minds.