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February 2004
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Strategic Voting Bubbles

Coming back again to the difficulties caused by “strategic voting” rather than people just voting for the candidate who is closest to their own views. It just leads to all sorts of heisenbergian effects and distortions of the process. I’m not sure the “bubble” posited below will come to pass, but it might, and is just another example on the process feeding on itself in unhealthy ways.

Kerry 36,000
(Noam Scheiber, The New Republic)

Kerry is clearly benefiting from the fact that people think other people are going to vote for him down the road, which is why they’re voting for him now; they’re not voting for him because he’s the candidate they personally want to be president. As Chait points out, this is classic bubble behavior–you buy a stock not because it’s intrinsically valuable, but because other people are buying it and the price is going up (and you think both of these things is likely to continue). The problem with bubbles, both in politics and in financial markets, is that they tend to deflate just as rapidly as they inflate.