Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Robin Hanson on voting advice

Robin Hanson has a very interesting post up on his advice on voting. Read the whole thing here.

I'd like to focus on one piece and the counter-intuitive implication:

The thing you probably know best is your own life. So a good simple strategy is to vote “retrospectively,” i.e., for incumbents if your live goes well, and against them if your life goes badly. The more voters who do this, the stronger incentives incumbents have to make most lives go well.
For life quality extremes this advice is clear, but what if your life is near the middle? What should be the cutoff between a good and bad life? One simple reference is how you expected your life to go when incumbents were elected – reelect them if your life has gone better than expected.
The result of this strategy would be for a lot of voters to reject their preferred candidate when that candidate was the incumbent and for a lot of others to vote to re-elect the opposition. The expectation for many is that one's own candidate will right all wrongs and bring near utopia while the opposition will be the one to finally turn the lights out on America. Both extreme positions are obviously wrong in retrospect for many of the reasons Robin describes in the post along with the general truth that there isn't that much change a president, et al. can effect and there isn't much difference between most candidates in most elections.

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