Monday, November 06, 2006

Voting & Rational Ignorance

Economic analysis suggests that voters can be expected, in general, to be rationally ignorant about public policy issues as well as about candidates. There are many implications of this analysis that I think we observe in our politics. Greg Mankiw writes about an implication of this sort of analysis that might not be so obvious:
"So the next time a friend of yours tells you he's not voting, don't try to change his mind. It's a good bet that if he's not voting, he's not been following the election closely anyway. Maybe he watched a baseball game instead of the debates. Maybe he is bored silly with all the talk of targeted tax cuts, privatized social security, and campaign finance reform. Maybe he's as ignorant about public policy as those focus groups of undecided voters that are the media's latest darling.

So rather than pushing your friend to the polls, perhaps you should thank him for staying at home. He's making your vote count just a little bit more."
You should read his whole explanation.

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