Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Wisdom of the People

We've all heard that the taller candidate usually wins, right? (Which might actually be a good thing, considering that Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Napoleon and the conqueror Alexander "the Great" were all short.)

And while some people - I'm inclined to think, those who have seriously thought out their values - will vote for their own party no matter what, others will vote according to how they "feel" about the candidate. You know, his body language on televised debates, whether the media publicized something dumb he once said, that kind of thing. This weekend a woman told me that she's not voting for Hillary because "I couldn't stand four years of pantsuits. Put on a skirt!"

Well, the following has me ready to start scouring the countryside for a Stuart or a Hapsburg to put in charge.

I think most people would agree that in elections when the voter is not familiar with the names on the ballot, it is simplest to choose the first option. What's interesting is that research clearly shows that order makes a difference even in large-scale elections with recognizable names of candidates!

As reported by Jon Krosnick, in the 2000 presidential race, George W. Bush received 9 percent more votes among Californians in districts where he was listed first on the ballot than where he was listed later. Even in high-profile elections such as the presidential race, name order in balloting does make a big difference.

In general, we know there is a huge advantage to being listed first. In multiple-choice questions, people often choose "A" simply because it is listed first. But knowing that the world can change due to list order is amazing! In all three states where name order was studied (California, North Dakota, and Ohio), Bush got more votes when listed first on the ballot. Other candidates studied also received more votes when listed first. Name recognition and other factors may make a difference, but the impact of name order is clear.


~Kevin Hogan, The Science of Influence

2 comments:

Jackie said...

I'm sad you won't have any more monarchist posts at LJ, though I can see why. You've reminded me that I do NOT see democracy as the super-ultimate best and only legit form of government... I believe it was in one of my high school history books that I first learned that it's "only the best of the worst types of government." (And if you didn't already know I was homeschooled, that right there should tell you. ^^)

-ainaweth

American Monarchist said...

Ainaweth, I'm so glad at least one person followed me here from LJ! A couple of people from my F-list have already tried to "set me straight", and I also got the distinct feeling I was boring everyone.

"only the best of the worst types of government." Score! That was great! I shall appropriate it.

And btw, you have the honor of making the first comment on this blog! Welcome!