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How Voter Shortsightedness Skews Elections 269

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-don't-like-the-last-thing-you-did-so-i-don't-like-you dept.
sciencehabit writes "'Are you better off than you were 4 years ago?' Ronald Reagan's famous question in the U.S. presidential election of 1980 is generally a good yardstick for picking a candidate, or at least for judging a leader's economic policies. But few voters follow it. Instead, they are swayed by economic swings in the months leading up to the election, often ignoring the larger trends. Why are we so shortsighted? A psychological study of voting behavior suggests an answer and points to a simple fix. ... Healy and Lenz challenged their subjects to evaluate hypothetical governments based on slightly varying information. For example, some received information expressed as yearly income while others received the same information expressed as a yearly growth rate. The same information in a plot of steadily increasing average personal income over 3 years—$32,400, $33,100, $33,800—can also be expressed as a steadily decreasing rate of growth—3%, 2.3%, 2.1%. That did the trick. Just changing the units of the data was enough to cure voter fickleness. When economic trends were expressed as yearly income rather than rates of change, the subjects made accurate judgments. But if the same information was expressed as a change over time—the bias reappeared."
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How Voter Shortsightedness Skews Elections

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  • by nman64 (912054) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @06:36PM (#46156011) Homepage

    None of us is as dumb as all of us.

  • Re:Not quite that (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @06:36PM (#46156017) Homepage Journal

    One thing which increases inefficiency in the system is wild swings from one extreme to the the other. A path of moderation gets more lasting things done.

  • Re:Not quite that (Score:5, Interesting)

    by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @09:08PM (#46157553) Homepage Journal

    In the US, there is no choice.

    You have choices, and some of them are third parties. You (and people like you) just choose to make your own prophecies become a reality

    We have had presidents from only two parties for more than 150 years. One thing they have done an exquisite job of over those years is preventing anyone from any other party from being able to make a credible run at the white house.

    However, even more significant is the fact that both parties have tacked hard to the right over the past several decades. Our current president comes from what is allegedly the "liberal" party yet he is further to the right than any president before him. Meanwhile the republicans are out in outer effin' space with their hard-right ideology. While this should make an opportunity for someone from the center or (gasp!) the left to rise to power, it really just leaves the lower economic classes with a choice of how badly they want to be screwed.

    For me, the choice is pretty easy. The republicans want me to lose my job and then work at something else for pennies a day while they get rich. The democrats at best will allow me to continue in my chosen line of work, with no real hope for a meaningful chance at career advancement. A vote for a third party is a vote taken away from the democrats, which only improves my chance of ending up unemployed.

    Don't get me wrong. I don't like what the democratic party has become. I just prefer it over the punishment the republicans have in mind for me.

  • Re:Not quite that (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dryeo (100693) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @12:31AM (#46158955)

    From the outside looking in the ACA looks pretty conservative. Forcing people to deal with corporations is the opposite of socialism and it is so funny to hear American conservatives going on about how it is socialist.
    Its got the usual right wing authoritarian thing going of forcing you to give your money to big business. The left wing authoritarian thing would have been the government running it.
    Remember that the it started out by being proposed by a right wing think tank and championed by Romney who is even more right wing then Obama.
    Of course ideally would be non-authoritarian healthcare where right wing would be lots of competing small businesses and the left wing being lots of competing co-ops or at least local government.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @05:55AM (#46160467)

    The politicians lie, the media lie. The hallmark of democracy is that they tell different lies.

    So watch out, for one of the first sign of a dictatorship coming is when their lies sync up.

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