Skip to content

Why People Who Want “None of the Above” Should Vote For Obama

2012 October 27
by Eric Horowitz

In the coming days there will be a flood of articles about the “none of the above” voters – people who don’t want either major party candidate to be president. Yet all of these articles will overlook the fact that if voters truly don’t want Obama or Romney to be the U.S. President, the logical thing to do is vote for Obama.

This year the “none of the above” voters are screwed. Either Obama or Romney is almost sure to be elected president. So the goal of these voters should evolve into ensuring that neither Obama nor Romney is elected president in 2016. Here’s where the decision become clear. If Obama wins this year there’s almost no chance that Obama or Romney will win the 2016 election. But if Romney wins there’s better than a 50% chance that Obama or Romney will win the 2016 election. For people who claim they don’t want either Obama or Romney to be president, a 2012 Romney victory is a disaster because it ensures that in 2016 one party’s nominee will be somebody they already disapprove of.

I’m not sure there’s any logical case that somebody who equally dislikes Romney and Obama can make for voting for Romney. Many of these “none of the above” voters will say that regardless of who wins this year there’s almost no chance they would approve of the 2016 Democratic or Republican nominees. Still, an unknown scenario is better than helping pave the road for the favored nominee to be somebody you already know you disapprove of.

11 Responses leave one →
  1. Chris Oldman permalink
    November 4, 2012

    This is a pretty poor way to choose whom to vote for. Like it or not, there aren’t enough people who are choosing none of the above to take the election away from obama/romney. Therefore, their choice becomes who is the better candidate, and they should choose between them.

    What you have ignored in your proposal is that you have no idea who will be running in 2016. The two major candidates could be worse than either Obama or Romney. Then what? Then you screwed yourself by not voting for Romney in 2012.

    • Eric Horowitz permalink*
      November 4, 2012

      I don’t disagree — I think that in reality nobody is truly indifferent. My point is that even if we accept that somebody is actually indifferent, if they’re logical that indifference should evolve into a preference.

  2. John permalink
    November 4, 2012

    The argument is that if someone on the ‘far’ left punished Obama it will force the Dems to nominate someone who appeals to the base (similar to the Tea Party shifting the GOP to the right). Strategic voting in a repeated game is easy to justify…

  3. mike permalink
    November 4, 2012

    “Still, an unknown scenario is better than helping pave the road for the favored nominee to be somebody you already know you disapprove of.”

    Your critical mistake here is assuming that just because the 2016 candidate is “unknown” that we don’t know anything about him. That’s obviously incorrect. We don’t know who he is, but we have a pretty good idea of the pool of people he will be drawn from, and we have very good indicators of what his demographic characteristics will be and what kind of platform he will and will not embrace. If, for example, your “none of the above” voter cares deeply about Palestinian rights and sees both Romney and Obama as tools of Israeli oppression, there is still no reason to expect that an “unknown” 2016 candidate would be any less pro-Israel given the influences that govern our political process.

    You’re also assuming that the “none of the above” voter has specific complaints about Romney or Obama that do not apply to typical major party candidates. Maybe if your hypothetical voter is a hard line evangelical who hates suspected Muslim/Atheist Obama and Mormon Romney for their religious beliefs, that makes sense. However, it’s much more likely that the “none of the above” voters have much more generic objections that would apply equally as well to whoever the Democrat and Republican nominee will be in 2016. In that case, your best bet would be to go with the devil you know (and perhaps agree with on some issues) than the devil you don’t.

  4. November 4, 2012

    How often does someone lose a presidential election, and then win the very next one? I know Nixon lost in 1960 and then won in 1968, but that’s often considered an unusual case. I bet it happened more in the 18th/19th century.

  5. Steve M permalink
    November 4, 2012

    It you dislike them equally as people, you could vote Romney to prevent an unrestrained Obama running amok in his second term, but I suppose if you’re considering them as candidates you’d have already accounted for that.

  6. Daniel permalink
    November 4, 2012

    I’m none of the above, and I settle it by remembering that politics isn’t about policy, it’s a mentally castrated team sport and I am going with the team I was born with LET’S GO REPUBLICANS LETS GO FOR THE GOLD

  7. John Thacker permalink
    November 4, 2012

    True none of the above voters should vote for a third party, or not at all.

    The problem with the argument is that a voter who dislikes both of the candidates presumably dislikes their policies, not their personages. Therefore, a vote for either of them encourages more nominees like them. Even if Obama cannot run in 2016 if he wins, by being re-elected he will encourage both candidates in 2016 to be like him.

    The best logical reason for a None of the Above voter to vote Romney is that many political scientists believe that elections are primarily referendum on incumbents. Thus, a one term President is somewhat more a rejection of his policies than an embrace of the challenger.

    I don’t think that it’s that difficult to conceive a logical argument whereby a constant succession of one-term Presidents paves the way for more radical changes in what’s offered by the parties than a constant succession of re-elected Presidents. I am a none of the above voter who also believes that Obama and Romney are *both* like George W. Bush in policies.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Assorted links
  2. Solid Voting Advice « A Holy Impatience
  3. Assorted links | Economics of the 2012 Presidential Election

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers