A case for voting Republican

A centrist New Yorker finds a reason to cast his vote strategically.

I’m writing this from an hour-long polling line on the Upper West Side, where no political races will be remotely competitive this year. The presence of so many people willing to put up with the inconvenience of a long wait to cast a vote that’s unlikely to make a difference is inspiring, but under conditions like this one my mind tends in a cynical direction, and when I go cynical I start to think about voting Republican.

That temptation comes not from the party’s position on FEMA or climate change, its willingness to force legislative cliffhangers rather than compromise, or its alertness on issues as diverse as Barack Obama’s birth certificate and the war on Christmas.

Rather, the temptation arises from this map, which shows the concentration of political influence in just a small handful of “battleground” states. Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have together visited Ohio 75 times. They’ve visited New York 24 times, almost all of which were fundraisers and media appearances. The political cycle, and the issues it chews over, are calculated to excite voters in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida — hence a focus this year on industrial offshoring and retiree health care. Political campaigns use the same big-data approaches that any clever startup or retail chain would use to segment voters and target them directly. Undecided voters in swing states have enormous leverage. The rest of us have been mostly segmented out of the process.

As much as I hope Obama will win today’s election, I’m tempted by the thought that my vote — which is practically certain to have no impact on the outcome of any election today — might be better spent strategically in making New York a slightly more competitive political arena.

You might point out that the candidates’ fundraising hauls come largely from New York and California, and so my fellow urbanites have perhaps a greater say in the formation of the political agenda than a voter in a closely-contested state. But I think it’s safe to say that Donald Trump is not whispering in Mitt Romney’s ear about the need for better rail transportation between New York, Boston and Washington, or the threat to the Northeast of rising sea levels.

If New York were a battleground state, we might enjoy political spoils as lavish as any enjoyed by a subsidized Ohio farmer — and those spoils, in the form of badly-needed improvements to interstate infrastructure, would probably be better for the country than the former, since a modest improvement in the functioning of the New York City area — whose GDP is $1.3 trillion — could have an outsize impact on the national economy. At the very least, presidential candidates would be better attuned to the needs of our big cities, which are the engines of U.S. economic growth but are mostly in electorally uncompetitive states.

Of course, hoping that my vote will make a difference in the competitiveness of this state is probably as far-fetched as thinking my vote will determine the outcome of any election. In the meantime, there are more promising ways to work against the injustice of the Electoral College — like an effort to have states commit to giving their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular election.

As it turned out, I took the safer route and voted straightforwardly, for the candidate I’d gone to the polls to support.

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  • deemery

    One thing you can consider are measures to make voting districts more competitive. That means removing redistricting from politicians and putting it in the hands of independent agencies with clearly established (and immutable) rules. It seems to me that, when the state legislatures control redistricting, they conspire to group like voters together -for both parties-. The argument is “OK, our party has X safe districts, and we’ll marginalize the other party by constructing Y safe districts, consolidating all those enemy voters into a small number of districts.”

  • Guesty McGuesterson

    You might also consider voting third party, for more or less the same reasons you gave. It’d be good to make things more competitive beyond the two dominant parties. Also, while not affecting the outcome, a vote recorded this way will have a comparatively great impact on the third party candidate’s total, for which that candidate may be grateful.

  • Guest Concerned

    I’m far more concerned by this:

    When you get a vote tilt that varies in proportion to district size, that’s algorithmic voting, and that’s some programmer doing some fraud.

    To me the biggest risk here, is all the districts that don’t check the random sample of paper trails against the voting machine tallies for their district. Without that, it is no surprise that the paper count shows one patter, and the central tabulator shows a different pattern:


    • Guest

      Just to make this clear.
      Imagine you have districts X1,X2,X3 of 5000 people, and Y1,Y2,Y3 districts of 6000 and Z1,Z2,Z3 districts of 7000 people, M1,M2,M3 of 8000 and so on. To get a flat horizontal voting pattern, they simply have to vote and have a particular preference for a candidate. That is what the result should look like, noisy for small districts and settling to a horizontal line for larger ones.

      To get a line that goes up or down, exactly as detected in the ES&S tabulators districts and corresponding downs and up in the other candidates, the Y’s precincts have to cooperate with the Xs and Zs. The Y’s have to agree to vote more towards Romney than the X’s but not as much as the Zs! Likewise the Z’s have to agree to vote more from Romney than the Y’s but less than the Z’s. There needs to be coordination in voting pattern between districts.

      That was not voting, that was a computer algorithm.

      Some vote flipping algorithm like N*P where N is the number of votes that need to be flipped and P the probability that the result has settled to it’s final value.
      P confidence would increase as more people had voted and so the flipping algo did bigger flips on larger districts.

      The trend you see if simply a bug.

      You can also tell it was run on the tabulators, not the voting machines, because it relates to the tabulator count size, not the votes counted on a voting machine.

      So code was run on the tabulators to flip the votes, and this is the chance, possible the one and only chance, you get to catch them. Because next time, they’ll get a better data feed and make a more convincing flip.

  • Guest Concerned

    Now that Obama’s won, time to go dig in and tackle the voter fraud. The *real* voter fraud, not the wild claims of single vote flipping on individual machines. The stuff that got Ron Paul and Rick Santorum ejected prematurely.

    It may only have been a primary, and thus it may only be a civil matter within the Republican party itself, but it shows a few things:

    Means – They have the means to rig a vote
    Willingness – It showed a willingness to do it
    Unaccountable – Where were the checks and balances??

    It makes zero difference that its a civil matter, the means willingness are identical, and after the election nobody seems willing to investigate any detectable fraud claiming the ‘unity’ argument.

    Unify you a$$ around Putin, I want democracy!

  • JMB98115

    Because my state goes SOLIDLY blue, I’ve been voting 3rd-party for the last 20 years. F— you, Republicrats and Demopublicans.

    [Moderated for language]

  • Joe

    This is interesting

  • poeddroiduser

    The GDP of NYC is about the same as the current budget deficit. Maybe if Obama Nationalizes NYC he can balance budget?

  • Vinifera

    After our email server went sour after Sandy, it was resurrected with all my old RSS feeds including this one and I wondered why I had removed O’Reilly in the first place. Thanks for reminding me.