Why people vote against their values

By TJ Reilly,

Each election season political campaigns try to define their candidates. They want their candidate to be likeable and their opponent’s candidate to be unlikable. The real issues are not important unless they can create an emotional response in the voter. They will do everything they can to defame the candidate they want to lose and promote the candidate they want to win.

People vote for people they like even when they don’t represent their values. This was more than evident in 2006 when Carol York ran against Senator Rick Metsger. Early on an “issues poll” was taken in Senate District 26. The “issues poll” showed that York would win over Metsger by more than 10 points if they could get the message out. Several hundred thousand dollars was spent promoting York. The final outcome of the election was that Metsger won by over 10 points.

So why did Metsger win if York better represented the average voter’s values? The reason is that voters knew and liked Rick Metsger more than they liked Carol York. In the end, the issues had nothing to do with the final outcome.

The same phenomenon is happening this election season. Many people are going to not vote for a candidate that best represents their values because of something the media or the opponent’s campaign said (whether it be true or false). Some people will just refuse to vote or else write in someone’s name they wish they could vote for.

The problem with this philosophy is that if you write in someone’s name that can’t win or don’t vote at all, you are actually voting for the candidate that you don’t want. This is exactly the emotional response that the opposing campaign is trying to create.

This philosophy is particularly harmful in legislative races. After each election the “first vote” determines who gets to be The Speaker of the House and The Senate President. The Speaker of the House and The Senate President are the ones who determine which bills get to be heard and/or voted on. If there are more democratic senators than republican senators, you will have a democratic senate president because of the “first vote”.

Remember that when you vote your values, even if it’s for someone you don’t like, you are also voting for the “first vote”. The “first vote” is the most important thing you will vote for this election season.