Partisan Voting.


Wonkette points out that Alvin Greene, the Democrats' unusual candidate in the South Carolina Senate race, picked up more votes than candidates in Nevada, West Virginia, and Arkansas, and in terms of percentage, performed better than Democratic candidates in North Dakota (22.2 percent), Idaho (25 percent), Oklahoma (26.1 percent), and Kansas (26.2 percent).

If this shows anything, it's the enduring power of partisan affiliation as a simple heuristic for voting. Most people have neither the time nor inclination to research candidates or issues, and as such, the easiest thing to do is vote the party with which you most closely identify. That sounds like a recipe for trouble, but there is a fair amount of research in political science suggesting that even ill-informed voters are pretty good at voting their preferences, and that being highly informed isn't as much of an advantage as it seems.

Put another way, if Alvin Greene were elected, there is a near certain chance that he would vote like the median Democrat. His quirks aside -- and as far as policy is concerned -- how would this be a problem?

-- Jamelle Bouie

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