Are you a strategic or idealistic voter?
Some conservatives are saying a vote for Huckabee is a vote for McCain. They figure that Huckabee and Romney are the most conservative of the Republican frontrunners. Conservative Republicans will be voting for both Huckabee and Romney, while more moderate Republicans will be voting for McCain. They figure this means that the conservative vote is divided among two candidates and the moderate vote is unified behind McCain. Since they think that Romney has a better chance of winning than Huckabee, they are advocating that conservatives throw all their votes behind Romney in order to beat McCain. If you want a truly conservative candidate, they say, you should not vote for Huckabee, because McCain is more likely to win if the conservative vote is split.
That is a strategic voter.
Consider this: What if Romney is really stealing conservative votes away from Huckabee? Why not advocate throwing the collective conservative weight behind him? Would that not accomplish the same goal?
This strategic suggestion may simply show a support for Romney, not conservatism. Some Romney supporters are trying to influence Huckabee voters, appealing to a sense of solidarity, calling them fellow conservatives with a common cause. In reality, they want their common cause to be Romney himself.
To be sure, there is a common conservatism and many of the strategic advocates are genuine in their perception that only Romney could win. But this brings me to the idealist.
An idealist votes according to what is right, in his or her view, not what is expedient. Idealistic voters simply sift through the views of the candidates and pick the one who, as best as they can tell, seems to be the best suited for the job. If it does not look like their candidate is going to win, even with their vote, they have at least made a statement about the views they think are important and the policies they think are right for our people.
And that is exactly the point; their loyalties are not so much to a candidate as to their ideas. They have principles they hold to and they will stand behind candidates who share those principles. If those candidates deviate so do their loyalties.
Strategic voters may think idealistic voters naïve for some of the same reasons. They think it’s a practical matter of how to get their principles represented in the real world. This translates to voting, not for the candidate with views closest to their own, but for the most electable candidate with the views closest to their own. This, of course, is the heart of party politics.
For you Independent Strategists out there, fret not. In some states you can help a party elect their candidate. In CA, only the Democrats have an open primary. So say, for instance, you were leaning toward favoring the Republicans, you can request a Democrat ballot and vote for the person lest likely to win against a Republican, maybe the experienced yet disingenuous Clinton.
What if you are an Independent Idealist? Again, say you were leaning toward the Republican side, you could request a Democrat ballot. You would, of course, vote for the person most akin to your personal views regardless of their electability, maybe the liberal yet charismatic Obama.
In the end, whether idealistic or strategic, the choice is yours. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go figure out who I’m voting for.
(NOTE: all the above examples are for the sake of argument and discussion. I am not here advocating any candidate or party.)