Monday, October 15, 2012

Weird Voter Behavior

Daniel Larison analyzes the case of an "undecided" voter who proclaims that he is "fiscally conservative and socially liberal" but presents this voting history: Republican in 84, 96, 2000, and 2004, third party (presumably Perot) in 88, Democrat in 92 and 2008. Larison:
The main reason that this voter is in a quandary seems to be that he thinks the Republican ticket has something to do with fiscal conservatism, but his past votes for president suggest that fiscal conservatism isn’t very important to him. For instance, no one votes for the fiscally irresponsible Bush in 2004 to express support for an extremely costly and unnecessary war if one is concerned with being fiscally conservative.

What’s particularly odd in this person’s voting record is that he never voted for the elder Bush (probably the Republican candidate most in line with his stated preferences), voted against Clinton’s re-election “on grounds of integrity,” and then voted for Bush’s re-election to express support for the Iraq war. According to the way he described himself, he has consistently voted for the wrong candidate in almost every election, and he has done so for reasons that don’t fit the description of “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” at all.

He voted third-party in 1988, which suggests that he would be open to doing so again. Gary Johnson would seem to be the most obvious candidate for this voter, but Johnson’s name is never mentioned and a third-party vote is never even raised as a possibility. . . . If someone truly is “fiscally conservative and socially liberal,” he certainly should vote for Johnson, but the vast majority of those that describe themselves this way will typically end up backing a Republican ticket that doesn’t represent their stated preferences in the slightest.
People really are remarkably shallow about their politics.The only President in my lifetime to actually balance the budget was Bill Clinton, and Obama is fiscally even more conservative than Clinton, but the belief somehow persists that Republican = fiscal probity and Democrat = spendthrift.

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