A tidbit in Electoral-Vote yesterday had me laughing:
Special Election for Murtha’s Seat Today
When Rep. John Murtha died earlier this year, that triggered a special election for his seat that will be held today. PA-12 is a swing district (R+1) and is the only district in the country that voted for both John Kerry in 2004 and John McCain in 2008. Clearly they like people named John there, but neither the Democrat, Mark Critz, nor the Republican, Tim Burns, is named John, so it could go either way.
What was so funny? Well, the idea that people in a district would vote for someone just because their first name is John may sound ridiculous, but it is closer to reality than many people might want to admit.
Tuesday was also an election day where I live. We have “vote by mail” here, which I dearly love. My wife and I sat down more than a week ago, went over all the candidates and issues, and decided relatively carefully for whom to vote. She and I are both politically aware (no, we don’t always vote the same way), and probably spend far more time educating ourselves before voting than most.
And yet, for the long list of candidates and issues to consider, I have to confess that some votes came down to things of the same importance as whether their first name was John. Perhaps we didn’t like their photo in the voter’s guide. Or one of us didn’t like some of the companies they had worked for. Or they were endorsed by someone we either liked or didn’t like. Or someone we knew had made a comment in favor of some candidate, but we can’t even remember who made the comment or why.
The sad truth about democracy is that elections are often decided by trivial things. Indeed, how often has the predicted outcome of an election been overturned because bad weather suppressed voter turnout?
So just how did we manage to elect someone with the name “Barack Hussain Obama”? I have no idea. But if the economy hadn’t suddenly tanked in 2008, the election might have gone very differently the next year.