Get Ready to be Depressed about Elections

I’m at the Electronic Voting Technology Workshop, where I’ll be blogging a few things.

Jon Krosnick of Stanford is just wrapping up a fantastic invited talk on how ballot candidate ordering influences elections… and the result is stunningly depressing: it turns out that the impact can be quite large. So large, in fact, that Jon Krosnick estimates that candidate ordering gave Bush the White House in 2000 and 2004, and may have given Hillary Clinton a win in the New Hampshire primary. Because a number of voters simply vote for the first person on the ballot.

Also interesting is that exit polls have been historically biased in favor of Democrats because Democrats (starts with a D) are listed before Republicans (starts with an R) in the exit poll candidate list, which ma partially explain why Kerry was falsely (or at least for the wrong reason) predicted to win in 2004.

Jon finished by saying that this effect has only influenced a “small number of races,” although as he pointed out, some of those races were quite important. In case you didn’t already believe it, democracy is quite difficult to get right…