Strategic voting means voting not just your preference, but in a way that anticipates how OTHER people will vote. Personally, I have mixed feelings about it. In the Democratic primary, it is part of the “electability” foolishness where millions (Leonard Pitts Jr agrees with me). of voters are trying to figure out who might be more appealing to other voters. In that case, I advocate to vote for who you like- the winner of that will probably be the most electable!

For strategic voting, a mutually re-enforcing cycle between voters’ behavior and voters’ expectations. If I think I am the only person who will vote strategically, it is hard to imagine it will matter, so I won’t do it. If, on the other hand, I think others are ALSO doing it, I think it is more likely to make a difference and hence I will do it.

I made this little slide show that shows how this plays out with two realistic and also simplified examples. These spreadsheet models use real numbers about the number of voters and realistic turnout assumptions for this area.

One slide showing Erin’s race.

If you are a Democrat, and you want to see Erin Jablonski win, voting for only her and Virginia Zimmerman, the other true Democrat (as in, an actual registered Democrat), can’t HURT. But it is unlikely to help much either. For those of you not in Pennsylvania, the commonwealth lets candidates for School Director cross-file. Her primary opponent, Mary Gajda, only ever tried to win the Republican nomination. Erin tried to be cross-filed, but fell short among Republican voters (though she did get 912 R votes compared to 1,133 for Gajda).

Erin’s cool video.

Erin winning, which I very much want to see, might depend on Republicans (Rs) and Independents (Is) voting for her, especially if they “bullet” vote. That is vote for only her. Why? Basically, for Erin to overcome the greater number of registered Republicans who are likely to vote along party lines, she needs to earn votes that Gajda would have won.

I think a D voter who would have voted for Gajda (in any combination of votes) is very rare. So, the room for Erin to pick up those votes is small.

Reasons to vote for Erin:

  1. She brings experience to a board where the long-serving President is leaving (Kathy Swope).
  2. She understands school finance
  3. She wanted to be cross-listed, her candidate, Mary Gajda, did no. Erin cares about non-partisan decision-making.
  4. She is a creative and innovative leader- she was a founder of the Lewisburg Children’s Museum!

    Here is a slide show you can share with your friends, especially if they are Republican or Independent.

In the County Commissioner race, it is another story. In Pennsylvania, voters get only TWO votes for three offices. Yes, it is weird. Parties only get two spots on the ballot. The top THREE vote getters among an electorate that votes TWICE win an office. So, Democrats Trey Casimir and Stacy Richards, who are both excellent candidates, face a tricky situation.

Given the greater R registration numbers, and the fact that the two R candidates are largely unobjectionable in any way that would cause massive R defections, there is no meaningful scenario where both can win.

Both candidates face a situation where they are caught between a normative obligation to be “good Democrats” and support the whole slate, but each, assuming she or he wants to win, knows that victory will come from a combination of Republican defections and, and here is the temptation, asking close supporters to bullet vote. Just handfuls, in my example, 50, could swing the election for the third seat.

Should a Democrat vote for one or the other? I won’t make the case of what is the universal best choice. Reasons to bullet vote:
1) You MUCH prefer one over the other.
2) You believe, as a Democrat, that Democratic voters should be the deciding votes for the winning Democrat.

Vote November 5th in Pennsylvania! Check Vote, for anywhere, about your ballot and polling info (thanks to the League for that!)