“When Your Vote Doesn’t Matter, Try Switching Ballots”

Jonathan Robinson and Sean Trende in the Atlantic:

Pundits and voters of all stripes lament just how extreme, polarized, and ideological American politics has become. But such grievances rarely come with advice for how ordinary people can address this problem, other than by voting for their preferred political party’s candidates in general elections. Even that advice isn’t very helpful: Voters in many parts of the country do not have the chance to participate in close electoral contests.

Yet Democrats in Alabama and Republicans in New York, say, still have the power to secure better representation in Congress andstrike a blow against political polarization. In places where electoral competition is lacking, primary elections by and large decide political outcomes. Voters in those places are accustomed to participating in their own party’s primaries. But often the opposite party’s primary is more competitive and more consequential. So why not strategically vote in the other party’s primary?

To be clear, we’re not talking about trying to throw the opposite party’s primary to the least electable candidate, which can easily backfire. Our proposal applies to races that either Democrats or Republicans know they will likely lose. In these circumstances, voters should try to influence how they will lose. Their ultimate goal should be to pull the other side toward their preferred ideological position.

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