Archive for 2008

The Turbulent Electorate: Palin Goes from Zero to 60 in One Week

Saturday, September 6th, 2008

Rasmussen Reports:

A week ago, most Americans had never heard of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Now, following a Vice Presidential acceptance speech viewed live by more than 40 million people, Palin is viewed favorably by 58% of American voters. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 37% hold an unfavorable view of the self-described hockey mom. …

Perhaps most stunning is the fact that Palin’s favorable ratings are now a point higher than either man at the top of the Presidential tickets this year. As of Friday morning, Obama and McCain are each viewed favorably by 57% of voters. Biden is viewed favorably by 48%.

Talk to the People in Your Life

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

Probably the most-asked question about VotePact is the question of trust. How can you trust someone you’ve met on the internet?

Well, we’re using the internet to spread this idea, have set up a FaceBook page and such, but we’re not really suggesting that people meet on the internet. We want people to deal with people in their own lives. Lots of spouses could do this, brothers, co-workers, neighbors, etc. The issue of trust remains, but it’s subsided significantly when the person you’re dealing with is someone you have a real relationship with and have really talked about what you’re going to do. If you trust someone with your kids, shouldn’t you be able to trust them with your vote? It might work best with people you’ve avoided talking about politics with, avoiding the subject because it might hurt the relationship.

You could have prominent people doing this to publicize it — a union official and a business owner who have fought with each other for years, but agree on trade/war/civil liberties. Two famous actors. Two famous intellectuals. Combination we can’t imagine yet. For reasons we can’t imagine yet.

Another alternative is to have absentee ballots, walk them down to the mail box together and mail them together. (There might be problems with this, we understand some places don’t let you do absentee ballots unless you really are away, and some places allow you to “over ride” your absentee ballot by voting on election day.)

But if this takes off, say by people co-writing articles — if it’s publicized, it makes a dent in the polls (dispite how flawed they are), then you get third party candidates in the debates and then you’ve got a real three-or-four-way race. The seeming inevitability of the two establishment parties dissipates and people can begin to judge the candidates on their merits rather than political calculation.

Michelle Obama Unintentionally Makes the Case for VotePact

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

And Barack stood up that day, and spoke words that have stayed with me ever since. He talked about “The world as it is” and “The world as it should be.” And he said that all too often, we accept the distance between the two, and we settle for the world as it is — even when it doesn’t reflect our values and aspirations. But he reminded us that we also know what our world should look like He said we know what fairness and justice and opportunity look like. And he urged us to believe in ourselves — to find the strength within ourselves to strive for the world as it should be. And isn’t that the great American story?

It’s the story of men and women gathered in churches and union halls and high school gyms — people who stood up and marched and risked everything they had — refusing to settle, determined to mold our future into the shape of our ideals.

Evidence of a Trapped Electorate

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

I’ve been talking to several polling experts, especially sharing my “Why Public Opinion Polls Aren’t” piece. Charles H. Franklin at the University of Wisconsin sent me some interesting polls, especially this one:

FOX News/Opinion Dynamics Poll [June, 2007]

Would you consider voting for a presidential candidate you like who is a third party independent candidate?

67% Yes
25 No
8 Don’t know

Do you think a qualified third party independent candidate has a reasonable chance of winning a presidential election or not?

31% Yes
63 No
6 Don’t know

So a strong majority of respondents seem to want a third party candidate — while a strong majority of respondents think such a candidate would not have a reasonable chance of winning.

Why Public Opinion Polls Aren’t

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

[A shorter version of this piece was originally published by the Dallas Morning News on September 27, 2004.]

With all the discussion of polls and the presidential race it may be hard to believe, but I have yet to see a single poll asking whom people want to be president.

Virtually every poll has a structure like this: “If the 2004 presidential election were being held today, and the candidates were John Kerry, the Democrat, George W. Bush, the Republican, and Ralph Nader, would you vote for John Kerry, George W. Bush, or Ralph Nader?”

Of course a lot of people will respond “Kerry” simply because they don’t want Bush, or “Bush” because they don’t want Kerry. They don’t necessarily want Bush or Kerry — it’s the same bind people are in when they enter the voting both with our system; they disregard other candidates, whether it’s Nader or anyone else, and go for “the lesser evil.” But polls can offer a way out — they can ask people who they actually want.


Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

We want to work with other groups. VoteBuddy came up with basically the same idea and some people think the name is friendlier. There’s some interesting text and images on their page. It was set up by Kent Van Cleave.

A New Way To Vote — As A Duet

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

Originally published on Sunday, October 29, 2000

Come election day, millions may vote for George W. Bush and Al Gore while not believing in them. Doubtlessly, some will vote for one of these two enthusiastically, but sometimes it seems neither of these candidates has inspired many beyond their immediate family and those on their campaign payroll. Many unimpassioned voters would consider backing a third party candidate, like consumer advocate Ralph Nader – or Pat Buchanan or the Libertarian or Natural Law candidates. But voters are scared.