Imagine you go out with your friends and everyone is ordering ice cream. There are three options: chocolate, coffee, and vanilla. You like coffee, but you think most people will find it absurd you like coffee ice cream. So, you chose vanilla instead, because you think it’s the most popular option. That is how strategic voting works.
Strategic voting can happen in any type of online poll, whether it is for a school election, a product review, or a social media post. There are several negative implications of strategic voting in online polls such as inaccurate poll prediction, reduced poll credibility, and spreading of misinformation.
In this guide, we will explore what strategic voting is, its importance, and how to spot it.
While online polls are a powerful tool for gauging public sentiment on a wide range of issues, they are also susceptible to the manipulation of strategic voters.
Strategic voting in online polls is when people vote for a candidate or option that they don’t support, but they think will win. They do this because they want their vote to count, and they don’t want to waste it on a losing candidate
Let’s say you are to pick and vote for your favorite candidate on a reality show. But instead of choosing your favorite, you pick one that helps you win. It means you are voting to win, not to support your ideal candidate or share your opinion.
People use strategic voting for different reasons. Some do it because of the bandwagon effect– everyone is doing it, might as well join them.
Voters may also vote strategically if they believe that their preferred candidate has no chance of winning. For example, a voter in a swing state might vote for a major party candidate even though they are not their top choice, to avoid wasting their vote on a third-party candidate.
Real voting is when a voter casts their ballot for the candidate or party that they truly believe is the best choice. Strategic voting, on the other hand, is when a voter casts their ballot for a candidate or party that they do not necessarily believe is the best choice, but that they believe has a better chance of winning or producing the desired outcome.
Here is an example to illustrate the difference between real voting and strategic voting:
Strategic voting can have several negative impacts on elections. It can:
Here is a simple analogy to help understand the impact of strategic voting:
Picture this: you’re on the pitch with 11 players. You’re trying to decide who should be the team captain. You have two options: A or B. You want A to be chosen, but you think B is a better bet.
Voting for A means you’re wasting your vote because A probably won’t be chosen. Voting for B means you’re more likely to get what you want, even if B isn’t your favorite option.
If everyone on the pitch votes strategically, it is more likely that B will be chosen as team captain, even if A is the preferred choice. This is how strategic voting affects election results- everyone is voting for the candidate who they think is more likely to win, even if that candidate is not their preferred choice.
There are several ways to identify strategic voting patterns. Here are some of the most popular ways to detect strategic voting in polls:
Keep in mind that it’s not always easy to figure out if someone is voting strategically or being honest in a poll. Sometimes, people change their opinions because they have seen new information that changed their misconceptions about candidates.
People vote strategically for various reasons, including:
The first thing you need to do to prevent strategic voting in your polls is to select a good online poll maker. A great option is the formplus poll maker.
The Formplus poll maker offers all the features you need to protect the accuracy of your poll data. Let’s see how you can use Formplus poll maker to make your online polls more accurate:
Here are some popular cases of strategic voting that made news in the last 10 years:
In this election, some voters who had originally supported third-party candidates such as Bernie Sanders or Gary Johnson decided to vote for Hillary Clinton in the general election to prevent Donald Trump from winning. This strategic voting is thought to have played a role in Clinton’s narrow victory in some key swing states
Some voters who had planned to vote “remain” opted to vote “leave” to avoid a second referendum. This strategic vote is believed to have contributed to the ‘leave’ campaign’s narrow victory in the referendum.
Lessons learned from these cases:
Some argue that strategic voting negatively impacts polls, while others argue that strategic voting can be beneficial. Here are some of the most common arguments for and against strategic voting:
Freedom of Expression: The principle of free speech protects a person’s right to say what he or she wants to say. In voting, this principle implies that a person should have the freedom to vote for whatever candidate or option he or she pleases, even if he or she chooses because of strategic reasons.
Some people argue that restricting strategic voting is a violation of this basic democratic right.
Fairness: However, when it comes to fairness in an election or poll, it’s really important to make sure that the results reflect the true will of the people. When people use strategic voting, they’re not only manipulating the results, but they’re also distorting the truth about what people really want.
This can lead to inaccurate results. This raises ethical objections because strategic voting distorts the results and distorts the integrity of the process.
Proponents of Preventing Strategic Voting: Some experts argue that measures to prevent strategic voting ensure that the results reflect genuine opinions, which is essential for making informed decisions based on accurate data.
Opponents of Preventing Strategic Voting: Others believe that people should have the freedom to vote strategically if they want to. They argue that strategic voting can be a legitimate expression of people’s preferences and can reflect their desire to influence the outcome in a way that aligns with their interests.
Restricting such behavior may infringe upon personal autonomy and freedom of expression.
Eliminating strategic voting should be done carefully, taking into account the context and intent of the poll. However, in most cases, especially policy changes and general elections, preserving the integrity of the process may override ethical objections to restricting strategic voting.
Strategic voting can make a huge difference in the outcome of elections. You must design and analyze your polls with the possibility of meeting strategic voters to maintain the credibility of your polls.
Also, using a user-friendly polling builder like Formplus poll maker enables you to eliminate strategic voting by providing you with features to prevent and detect strategic voting.
Ready to create more accurate polls? Get started with the Formplus poll maker!
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