We are told to vote with our hearts. Our inner feelings are ideally there to guide us to cast our votes for the candidates whom we feel will best serve our country. In a perfect world this would be the best way to vote. In our cynical world today, however, I feel it na?ve to vote solely based upon feelings. There is another way to vote: vote strategically.

Strategic voting causes one to consider other factors before casting their vote. To give one’s vote the most weight, one must evaluate how strong each candidate’s campaigning skills and support are. One must also take note of local voting history; whether one particular political party seems to win more often than the other, if not all the time locally. If one party’s candidate has won every election at the local level practically every time, it may prove strategic to vote for a more moderate member of that party than the seemingly doomed opposing candidate you truly support.

It is wonderful to vote based on ideals; to vote under the impression that your vote for the underdog could give that underdog the win, but statistics make this highly unlikely.

This is but one example of how “strategic voting” works. It works in different ways depending on the election. The primaries, especially for this year, are very complicated. There are now four Democratic candidates in the running who have won at least one state at the primary level: Clark, Dean, Edwards and Kerry, as well as two who haven’t: Kucinich and Sharpton; both of whom are severely lacking in the polls.

By my own personal rules of strategic voting, Kucinich and Sharpton are both out due to low support (about 0%-3% per state). Note that this is purely a strategic observation. Was I to vote with my heart I would consider Kucinich.

There are many factors to consider here, not the least of which is specific to this particular election: which candidate stands the best chance of winning against President Bush.

Dean has adopted the motto “A.B.B”: Anybody but Bush. I fell in love with Dean when I heard this but unfortunately, after his battle cry on the night of the Iowa caucus, he’s lost much of his support in this election, myself included. Nonetheless, I still believe full force in the power of “ABB” and I encourage everybody planning to participate in the upcoming Caucus to vote with this in mind.

I am not encouraging anybody to vote for any specific candidate, nor am I urging them to betray their personal ideals. If the concept of “strategic voting” makes you uneasy, then please continue to vote based on your inner calling and your instincts.

I envy your ability to simply vote as you see fit and hope for the best. I wish I didn’t have to turn people away from Kucinich and Sharpton as they are both good men, but I honestly can’t see them winning the party nomination at this point, considering they’ve yet to even take a single state.

If I didn’t feel Bush had done so much damage to the state of things in this country I might not feel so strongly about strategic voting, but alas I must concur with the “ABB” motto and do my part in hopefully electing whatever carbon-based life form stands the best chance of defeating him. I encourage you all to vote as you see fit regardless. Just know all your options before pulling that lever.

Dan Goldstein can be contacted at [email protected]

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