Monday, July 30, 2012

Vote Against

Robert Reich’s description of this election sounds right to me:
....the White House doesn’t want to take any risks. Polls give Obama a slight edge in the critical eight or so battleground states, so, the thinking goes in the Obama camp, why say anything that might give Romney and the GOP a target?  
Besides, polls also show Romney isn’t well-liked by the electorate.
So Obama has decided to campaign as the anti-Romney. 
.....Romney’s advisors assume Obama can’t possibly be reelected with the economy this bad. Just 44 percent of registered voters in a Washington Post-ABC News poll earlier this month approve of the job the president is doing on the economy, while 54 percent disapprove. Even more encouraging for Romney is that 41 percent of those polled “strongly” disapproved of Obama’s economic performance, while just 21 percent “strongly” approved — an enthusiasm gap of major proportion. 
So Romney’s advisors have concluded that all Romney has to do between now and Election Day is avoid a mistake that might give Obama and the Democrats something to shoot at.
Romney has decided to campaign as the anti-Obama. 
The two anti-the-other-guy strategies fit with a ton of negative advertising that’s just begun but will reach mammoth proportions after Labor Day. Much of it will be financed by super-PACs and by political fronts already taking in hundreds of millions of dollars in secret donations. Romney’s camp hopes to out-negative Obama by almost two to one.
So what’s the logic in voting for one of these guys?  The campaign is all but telling us we have to decide which one to vote against.  Unfortunately the voting system itself doesn’t give us this option.

But it could.  A simple reform (too late for 2012 alas) would be to allow voters an option, either to cast their vote in favor of the candidate of their choice or against the candidate they oppose most strongly.  These votes would be tallied as either +1 or -1.  On election night, after a race like the one we’re having now, we would find out, not who got the highest number of votes in favor, but who has the least negative.

In a narrow, who-wins-and-who-loses sense, the result would be nearly the same.  (Life could get interesting, however, for minor parties.  My reform might require a two-stage election to narrow the field to only two candidates.)  The main point is the message.  It would be clear to everyone what kind of government we have: not the one we, or even a modest plurality of us, want, but the one we despise a bit less.

PS: I’m still in hiding.  This post doesn’t count.


Anonymous said...

That's best-worst voting. The original method was invented by my boss (Jordan Louviere) and its possible use in voting has been discussed by our co-author Tony Marley.

Sandwichman said...

Good idea. That's why it won't be implemented -- or even be considered.