Thursday, July 06, 2006

strategy in multi-party elections

Anytime there are more than two candidates, the question arises if voting for anyone other than the top two constitutes a wasted vote. In this year's Mexican presidential election, the answer was "it depends." It depends primarily on the voter's individual agenda, motive, and purpose.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the PRD: People who voted for the poll leader were the least complicated in their motives. They resonated to his image and bought his promises. I have not heard anyone say that a vote for AMLO was just a way of defeating Calderon, Fox, or the PAN.

Felipe Calderon of the PAN: People who supported this relatively bland conservative did so because they liked his experience, his (relative) honesty, or his stand on the issues (pro-life, free market, tough on crime). Alternatively, I have spoken with several people who didn't particularly like Calderon (or the PAN in general) who voted for him simply because he was the one candidate with the best chance of denying the victory to AMLO. Some of Calderon's last ads even emphasized this strategy.

Roberto Madrazo of the PRI: I have yet to meet anyone outside of the PRI who thinks that Madrazo was the most likeable or the most honest or had the best stand on the issues. Just as there are some people in Eastern Europe who wax nostalgic about the stability of Communism, so there are some people in Mexico who long for the PRI bureaucracy and didn't want to see Madrazo lose by double digits (but he did). If someone's goal was to stop AMLO (or Calderon for that matter), voting for Madrazo would not be as effective as voting for a stronger opponent.
Patricia Mercado of the Alternative Party: She was the most articulate and left-leaning of the field, yet with no chance of a double digit percentage. Most of her supporters either don't trust AMLO to fulfill his promises or just wanted to keep up the pressure on issues such as reproductive rights. (She and Calderon are the only candidates to take firm, but opposite stands on abortion.) Most her supporters were convinced that AMLO would win, but hoped that a good showing for Mercado would pressure AMLO to fulfill promises and pressure the PRD to nominate future progressive candidates at every level.

Roberto Campa of the New Alliance: His campaign started out as an anti-Madrazo, PRIista revolt. His party obtained about 5% for the Senate and Deputies, but he himself garnered about 1% of the vote, despite being quite likeable and articulate. My inference is that his followers were more interested in defeating AMLO than in giving more votes to Campa's losing cause. Even if all of Campa's votes had been added to Madrazo's total, the PRI still would have landed in third place.

This election should have been a referendum on Fox, and Calderon (or any other PANista) should have won easily. It became a referendum on AMLO with both Calderon and Mercado supporters saying "no" but for different reasons. Madrazo and Campa lost their relevance to this discussion.


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6:34 PM  

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