Election Time: What Are the Odds?

from the more-trustworthy-than-polls dept

I have a friend who has a “modest proposal” of sorts, that instead of an electoral system, the US political system should run like a stock market. Politicians could sell their own “equity” to the market in order to raise campaign financing, and whoever had the highest stock price at election time would win the positions. His theory, of course, is that this is a more open way of showing what really happens now anyway. Now Wired has an article saying that various oddsmakers that focus on political outcomes are often more accurate than the polls. So, maybe my friend is on to something…

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Comments on “Election Time: What Are the Odds?”

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2Lazy2Register says:

Re: Trying to fix a broken system

I wondered about that myself. With the available technology (and let’s for a second just assume it can be made sufficiently secure) we could all vote on every issue via the web or whatever. Here’s the problems I came up with:
– Time. I don’t have enough time to adequately research every issue to make sure I’m making the correct choice. Not that career poiticians do wither, but they have fulltime staff to help. (Note that I agree that even with staff they still get it “wrong” most of the time)
– Interest. Not every thing I would be asked to help decide would be of any interest at all to me, so I would likely either not vote or just randomly pick a choice.
– Popular isn’t always right. My daughter would eat cotton candy for every meal if I let her. Who would make the hard decisions if popular vote was all that counted? Who would actually vote for their own tax increase?
– Fragmentation. What’s to stop a numerically superior sect from making truly onerous laws like legalized slavery or the like? I live in Ohio – do I want to live with wacky California political decisions? (Note that this is why we have an electoral college instead of just a popular vote). I don’t think I would have been a big fan of prohibition, but get enough nannies together for a popular vote and we might have it back.

All that being said, I think we as citizens should have more of a voice on certain issues. I personally don’t feel “represented” by our do-nothing wind bags in DC. Those pampered aristocrats don’t have the least clue about the challenges their constituents face on a daily basis.

Steve Snyder says:

Re: Re: Trying to fix a broken system

Fragmentation. What’s to stop a numerically superior sect from making truly onerous laws like legalized slavery or the like?

DeToqueville called this Tyranny of the Majority, and it is the reason we have a Constitution which is (theoretically) the supreme law of the land. The Declaration of Independence framed the Constitution by saying “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…” Unalienable being the key word there, meaning tese rights cannot be infringed upon no matter what. Though if enough people want something, a super majority can pass an ammendment to the Constitution. But there hasn’t been a new ammendment passed in over 30 years.

I live in Ohio – do I want to live with wacky California political decisions? (Note that this is why we have an electoral college instead of just a popular vote).

Partially true, but this is something that I think the federal government is in violation of the Constitution–the Tenth Amendment says, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or
to the people.” Yet the federal government has continuously created federal laws where they have no right–the state’s should be free to decide anything not explicitly stated in the Constitution. For example, the fed witholding highway funding unless a state complies with their speed limit mandates.

While the idea of allowing everyone to vote on everything and seems intriguing, I think the biggest threat is general apathy of the people. Look at how horrible voting rates are right now. Consider if people had to vote all the time, they would probably drop even more, especially for things people don’t understand (like the DMCA). On an issue like that, maybe 5 or 10% of the population would vote, that’s just scary–because it means that an active few could probably get their view passed. The flipside is scary too–thinking about if a lot of people actually do vote, for most of them, they won’t really understand the issue and go on a whim–or worse yet, Disney sends everyone a free movie with a plug to vote for a DMCA like law. Granted Disney buys votes now, and that’s a problem too, but eventually campaign finance reform has to happen right? And I guess it’s a matter of the old “better the devil you know.”

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