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Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

Why we vote the way we vote

Fire station, Politics, Wauwatosa

Everyone is pretty sure that we vote for candidates based on rational decision-making. But the research says we're not rational. Instead, we are rationalizers. We hunt and sift for good sounding reasons for our decisions after we've already made them.

That sounds about right to me. Researcher Richard Lau says that the real reasons for choosing as we do are:

  1. The candidate shares our biases.
  2. Our neighbors say nice things about them.  
Number 2 doesn't mean rational arguments from our neighbors. It means things like "Assemblyman Schliffenpfeffer is a doo doo head" or "Senator Prysbyczeski looks like my mean old kindergarten teacher and has a yucky voice."

According to Lau, who's coauthor of How Voters Decide: Information Processing in Election Campaigns, what doesn't sway people are policy analyses or arguments.

What's more, "the people who look at the most information. . . are not necessarily the people who are going to best be able to determine which candidate is best for them. Really, people often do better with little information than with a lot of information."

Who knew?  

If you're voting Tuesday, chances are you fall into one of these voting types:

  1. Fast and frugal (the one issue voter)
  2. Cognitive miser (looks for cue words and goes with them)
  3. Rational (try to learn as much as possible)
  4. Confirmatory (you already know you're going to like the liberal or conservative candidate better).

You'll have to read the article if you want to find out why "less information is more." But I'll use the advice for my endorsement:

Vote yes for the fire station. We need it, it's cheaper now than it will be later, and Dean Redman is an upright kinda guy who wouldn't steer us wrong.

As for the mayoral candidates, you've already known for a long time who you were going to vote for, haven't you? 

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