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Value of swing vote

Posted April. 24, 2017 07:32,   

Updated April. 24, 2017 07:34


“No voter goes to the polls actually believing that her single vote will affect the outcome. Of the more than 16,000 Congressional elections, only one election in the past 100 years -- a 1910 race in Buffalo -- was decided by a single vote. Therefore, do not wrongly believe that our votes will affect the outcome.”

Surprisingly, this is what Steven Levitt, professor of economics at the University of Chicago, said in his article contributed to the New York Times. In fact, it is said that the probability of a single vote to change the election outcome is merely an average of one 60 millionth.

If it’s true, voting is waste of time. As a matter of fact, many voters do not appear at a voting booth for this reason. When the expected value of voting outcome is extended to others, however, the story becomes totally different. Suppose that the political party that I endorse has pledged to expand social benefit. If your single ballot is a decisive one for the party to win and other constituents come to enjoy the social benefit that the party promised, it means that you have contributed to helping them even though you are not one of beneficiaries of the party’s manifesto.

What’s interesting is that the value of a single vote differs for each and every voter. In constituencies where people only vote for No. 1 or 2 candidates, the value of that single vote is meaningless. On the other hand, in intensely competitive areas where the result of each election differs, the value of a single vote goes up. A study on American voters shows that a single ballot in Washington D.C. where almost all the voters cast their ballots for a Democratic candidate is worth some 3 U.S. dollars while one ballot in Colorado, New Hampshire and Virginia where ballots are cast for either Democratic or Republican candidates, a single ballot is worth 10,000 times more expensive at some 30,000 dollars.

According to an EMBRAIN election survey commissioned by YTN and Seoul Shinmun on April 18, 28.1 percent of respondents said they could change the candidate that they endorse. Other surveys show similar results. What’s notable is voters in their 20s. The result of Korea Gallup on April 21 said that more than half of 20-something respondents (58 percent) expressed their willingness to change their favorite candidate. It appears that many Koreans badly wanting for the change of government due to the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye have now turned to meticulous voters who eval‎uate capabilities and qualities of presidential candidates through TV discussions and other validation processes. As if it is difficult to hit the moving target, it is also quite difficult to grab changing hearts and minds of voters. Swing voters are smart citizens who know how to raise their own value.