Monday, August 17, 2009

The Power Of Your Vote

A new report released by the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that an average individual voter in the United States has one in 60 million chance of casting the deciding vote. Not necessarily surprising. But the authors conclude:
"A probability of 1 in 10 million is tiny but, as discussed by Edlin, Gelman, and Kaplan (2007), can provide a rational reason for voting; in this perspective, a vote is like a lottery ticket with a 1 in 10 million chance of winning, but the payoff is the chance to change national policy and improve (one hopes) the lives of hundreds of millions, compared to the alternative if the other candidate were to win. Different voters have different opinions about which candidate is desirable, but many can feel that their preference is not only better for them personally but for millions of others. (On the other hand, for voters in states such as New York, California, and Texas where the probability of a decisive vote is closer to 1 in a billion, any reasons for voting must go beyond the any instrumental rationality.)"
It makes my lottery ticket purchases seem more rational than my voting in New York. OK, not really.

It is interesting research and worth reading. If you don't have access through a university library you may have to pay for the report. Sphere: Related Content

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