The blog, Pressing the Flesh has commented on the opinion poll showing that “35% of those responding believe that their vote for American Idol counts as much or MORE than their vote for a U.S. Presidential election. ” According to this blogger, this explains “what’s wrong with the American voting public” and “why you have such incompetent representatives in the White House and Congress.”
I would disagree. This explains that only 1/3 of the American population has some (small) grasp on the concept of percentage contribution to the total. It would seem to me that fewer people would actually vote on American idol than would in a national election, so, if you evaluate your individual voice (vote) as simply one vote in a vast, “virtually” infinite, sea of votes cast, then perhaps one would be left with the sense that their vote is “worth less” (much less) than the votes cast in a much smaller voting population.
Of course, it is the aggregration of the votes that matters, and every vote is required to get to that aggregate figure, but in “most” presidential elections, the marginal benefit of a single vote is miniscule.
For instance, if you are having a local run-off for school board, and you happen to live in a nice, small town, your one vote out of the 30 cast can be significant. It’s 1/30th of all the votes cast, and one can see how important that one vote can be. On the othe hand, in 2004, there were over <a xhref=”http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/2004/popular_vote.html” mce_href=”http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/2004/popular_vote.html”>122 million votes cast </a> which would make one think that their individual vote is worth considerably less than it was in the election for the school board.
In point of fact, the school board candidates probably spend far more time, and would be willing to listen to that one voter for far longer, than any single voter’s ability to talk with any Presidential Candidate.
This is, actually, one of the great paradoxes of voting. The individual vote is essentially worthless, however, as part of the aggregate, contributes to the mass of votes required to achieve a victory.
I welcome your thoughts on this. Do you feel your vote doesn’t count? How does one overcome the sense that my vote, counting for only 1/122,000,000 of the total, carries meaning and weight?