Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Undecided Voter

Let's suppose you are a member of a club. As this is supposed to be a sailing blog, let's assume it's a yacht club. This year there is an election for the head honcho of the club, the Commodore.

There are two members who are running for election as Commodore. You like them both and can't decide which one to vote for.

The younger of the two guys is very personable and has a knack for persuading other members to volunteer for club activities (an important talent for a sailing club commodore as I can personally attest). If elected he wants to spend more of the club's funds on repairing some of the old docks and revitalizing the junior sailing program. You support both of these aims.

The other candidate has a lot of experience racing internationally and has spent many years active in club politics. He has said that, if elected, he wants to spend more of the club's money in sponsoring sailors to participate in major overseas regattas and to improve the club's dining service. (No more pork.) You think these two changes are worthwhile too.

So you can't decide which candidate to vote for in today's election for Commodore. You are an undecided voter.

Many of your friends are strong supporters of one candidate or the other. It's pretty clear that a majority are leaning to the younger candidate. But you would be quite happy with either of these guys as Commodore.

So what do you do?

Do you just toss a coin and vote for one of them even though you think they would both be equally good for the club?

Or do you respect the collective judgment of your fellow members and let them decide?

Note: If you feel motivated to comment on this post please don't tell me which candidate you
would vote for. That's not the point of my question. What I'm interested in exploring is whether or not you should vote at all if you really are finding it very hard to choose between two candidates that seem equally good to you.


Ordinary Bob said...

This kind of decision is always difficult when you try to feel your way through it. I'd recommend that you build a decision matrix.

List what criteria you would use to make a selection. Then apply a ratio value to each criteria. Score each candidate based on the selection criteria, do the math, and bingo, you will have a winner.

Google Military Decision Making Process, or just decision matrix.

Unknown said...

Did one of the previous sponsored international sailors borrow a very expensive boat from the club and pile it up on the rocks on the way to a race that it turns out wasn't even happening? That might influence whether I'd focus on more of that or on building a new pier. And figuring out a way to pay back the loan for the new boat.

Anonymous said...

Choosing A or B is more appropriate for the Pepsi challenge not selecting the leader of the free world. If their is a third party candidate who has some ideas you like vote for them. My state is going to be a solid victory for one candidate so he will get the electoral votes. I am voting for a someone who wants to make citizens more important than corporations. I know he will not win but hopefully his message will get out there. It would also be good to have more than 2 people at the presidential debates goign forward.

Anonymous said...

typo: I meant there not their

The O'Sheas said...

I'm having a hard time in my local sailing club election because it seems such a clear choice. I am dumbfounded that the undecideds are, well, undecided at this late date and my impatience has been making it's presence known expletively.

I appreciate the chance to step back and look at the whole thing from the perspective of somebody who's struggling with this choice, but at the bottom of it all, *I* have been paying attention and the choice is clear as far as I'm concerned; we have nearly bankrupt the club over the past eight years, pursuing international domination in events that were not recognized as important by our club members, or the rest of the international racing community. And, truly sad for me to witness, our juniors are sailing around in brokedown gear, while subsisting on meager victuals and facing a lifetime of seriously decimated opportunities.

Less it be mistaken, I've voted for both sides of the clubhouse in the past, so this is by no means a choice that was made for me owing to which side of the clubhouse I hang my foulies.

Tillerman said...

I too have a hard time understanding why so many people are undecided in this election, when there has been so much information made available to members of the club, and the campaign has been going on for so long, and the differences between our two potential commodores in philosophy, policies, character and ability seem (at least to me) so marked.

But I wrote this post after reading a post by one of my favorites bloggers today. I have come to know from reading her blog for several years that she is intelligent, rational, thoughtful, caring, sensible, and can have strong views on many issues. But she is undecided on which candidate to pick as commodore.

Which made me ask the question? If you really are undecided this morning, is it better not to vote at all, and leave the decision to those who do have a strong view on the matter?

Anonymous said...

The winds are going to be fierce for the next Commodore, with sudden shifts and likely a squall or two. Painful decisions will have to be made considering that the docks need to be fixed and that a raise in dues was overdue anyway. All these stresses could lead to a 'coronary event' for the more experienced, older, candidate. This would be especially worrisome because the person running for vice commodore, although an excellent social chairperson, has no on the water experience.

The O'Sheas said...

In answer to your question, homme de talle, it's best if she comes over to my house and I sort it out for her.

Okay, seriously, I think you make a good point with your question. Maybe getting dunked in the frostbite series has helped clear your head in the midst of this political season haze. I might try it myself, if I weren't afraid I'd get a nostril or two full of dioxin for my efforts.

It's best she not vote. Let the decideds decide and don't risk dropping your penny in the hat of the man bent on a path you will regret in short order.

Anonymous said...

For me it was pretty simple. The times ahead are so uncertain that no amount of personal experience. I wuld vote for the smartest guy who seems to be good at surrounding himself with wise people and making smart analtical decisions based on the input he gets it.

But that's me.

coin tossing seems a bit nutty. If one doesnt know how to vote, don't vote. It will make the lines shorter for the decided.

Or for fun put your own name down as a write-in!

Adam Turinas said...

or you could take this approach.http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/talk/blogs/eastside93/2008/11/i-didnt-vote-for-obama-today.php

Jos said...

M3.3 Find the facts (rule 63.6).
• Write down the facts; resolve doubts one way or the other.
• Call back parties for more questions if necessary.
• When appropriate, draw a diagram of the incident using the facts you have found.
M3.4 Decide the protest or request for redress (rule 64).
• Base the decision on the facts found (if you cannot, find some more facts).
• In redress cases, make sure that no further evidence is needed from boats that will be affected by the decision.


Andrew said...

Vote for both candidates. Your vote won't count but the fact that you exercised your democratic right to vote will be registered.

Tillerman said...

Thanks for all the great comments. Some random reactions...

Adam - I didn't literally mean that an undecided voter should "toss a coin". What I was really trying to say was, "If you haven't made up your mind by now, then presumably if you do make up your mind it will be because of a fairly narrow preference for one candidate. If it's so close and you don't really have a strong preference, then why bother to vote at all?"

A supplementary question is, "If you agree that it's not worth voting in the hypothetical yacht club example, then is is different in the real presidential election? Are there factors that say you should exercise your right to vote for president even if you really think both candidates are equally good?"

O Docker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pat said...

The hypothetical yacht club election was easier to resolve than the national presidential election; in the yacht club election I could apply certain standing principles.

In the political world, we sometimes have a tough time with Jos' jury method of "Call back parties for more questions if necessary" because some of our candidates become a bit evasive when asked tough questions, and some of our news media and interest groups focus on peripheral questions, qualifications, and issues.

In the real world, it's been tough finding a willing, able vice-commodore candidate for one of our clubs.syzygy7

Pat said...

Part 2: Even though Tillerman's hypothetical yacht club election race is an allegory or parable for the US presidential race, the way I would vote in the yacht club election wouldn't predict how I voted in the US presidential election. Curious.

Partly, the construction isn't quite perfect or parallel between the elections, and partly the context and stakes differ, and partly what I want in a local organization isn't necessarily what I want in a national organization; different traits, skills, and abilities are weighted differently for different contexts.

And, as was alluded to in previous comments, the history and "popularity" (or distinct lack thereof) of the soon-to-be Past Commodore could have a huge impact on the real-world US election.

Anonymous said...

While I was glad that both candidates were nominated as they both represent the corinthian spirit of the club and have support from a wide swath of club members, unlike many of the people who run for club leadership who often are driven by extreme passion to purge the 'social' members out of the club at all costs or who run on strict one-design agendas.

While younger, I typically support the old guard as better stewards of the club. I've come to the conclusion that the old guard are not what they used to be and the people who typically drink at their table are getting more and more unbearable. There are many members that used to crew for them quite often that now are crewing on other boats, it's very sad.

Only in the past few days have I truly realized that I have a lot more reservations about the possible vice-commodore, most decidedly not a sailor, who seems to be stirring up support mainly from lapsed members and who picked up a life jacket when someone asked her with help carrying a boom. While I might oppose the younger guy on a few things and support the older guy on some things I've realized that the reputation of the club is at stake, why not give the young guy a shot?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for voting for the younger commodore, and restoring the rest of the worlds faith in your country.

Joe said...

You guys belong to clubs where there are Commodores? Holy cow you guys are elites! ;)

O Docker said...

If you can't make up your mind who to vote for - try harder, you can do it.

Along with the benefits of being a member of this club comes the responsibility to participate - to follow what's going on. It may not say so in the rules, but that's really your main job as a member. You can't just go sailing every day.

If you don't pay attention, the vice-commodore might take over and start running the regattas and fix all the rules so only his buddies could win. We'd soon lose the respect of all the other clubs.

One day we could turn around and all the petty cash might be gone.

And it could get worse than that. A lot worse.

Today we wake up with a new commodore who just might fix some of the things that are broken around here - if we pitch in and give him a hand. He's going to need a lot of help.

Where would we be if no one had bothered to vote for him?

Vigilante said...

What O'Docker said.

Anonymous said...

In the one case your choice will increase your comfort (better food and you like shiny trophies in the case because the case represents in some way your accomplishments).
The other case builds a better club for those that come after you at the expense of your satisfaction. It might even attract more people to the activity you love.

Seems easy to me.

Carol Anne said...

There is another option besides making a more-or-less random vote or just not voting. That option is voting for someone other than the two major candidates, even if there is absolutely no chance the minor candidate will win.

It's a more powerful statement than simply not voting, which would imply apathy. Instead, it makes clear that the voter doesn't like either of the major options.

Vigilante said...

I don't think so, Carol Anne.

Tim Coleman said...

personally I would be voting for the guy looking to the future of the club and not continually harping on about his past sailing experiances.

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