Trust the process: Are American presidential campaigns too long?
I think American election seasons are too long. To me this is obvious and, to me, elaboration seems unnecessary.
However, if I must continue, I would like to explain why so many complain about the length of our election cycles.
Many complain not because they don’t care or don’t want to pay attention, but because much of the grandeur and stagecraft of politics have little influence on them.
According to The Los Angeles Times, as of September about 7 percent of expected voters are undecided.
In other words, while candidates scrap over the remaining crumbs of voters before the final month, the rest must continue to listen to the droning of the talking heads.
But this is an important decision, and every last minute counts, right?
Actually, in the wise words of Donald Trump: “Wrong.”
There will always be undecided voters; extend the election for an entire year and there will still be undecided voters.
In fact, the longer the election season goes on, the greater chance the candidate a voter is sold on will say or do something regrettable, thus blurring the voter’s decision again.
Possibly the harshest truth about voting is that not only is your vote not going to count, but it’s probably not even going to have a chance of counting.
According to Nate Silver’s model on FiveThirtyEight, there are only nine states in which the expected margin of victory for a candidate is five points or less.
If we consider these states to be “swing states,” then the vast majority of states in the country have made up their minds.
With the exception of Iowa, almost no swing state composes a significant number of our student body. This means if you’re reading this and are undecided, there’s a good chance your vote is pointless anyway. You’re wasting your time—and ours—just by thinking about it.
And you know what you’re also wasting? Money.
In 2012, Mitt Romney’s campaign spent roughly $992 million, according to The New York Times. For this expenditure, he received just over 60 million votes. To put it bluntly, the Republicans spent roughly $16.53 per vote, which seems excessive even by political standards.
Now consider the fact that Romney didn’t even win and that the $992 million was essentially wasted.
Lastly, consider local and congressional elections.
I can guarantee most South Dakotans don’t know who John Thune, perhaps the state’s most high-profile candidate, is even running against. Whoever they are, they have less than a 1 percent chance of winning the election, according to Silver’s prediction model.
It’s not like this is a rare case either. U.S. House incumbents get reelected approximately 95 percent of the time.
Just as individual voters in non-swing states have virtually no chance of tipping the election, voters supporting Thune’s opponent, Jay Williams, also have no chance.
Either our election seasons aren’t long enough for out-of-power candidates to mount good comebacks, or we’re wasting time even letting the fight drag out so long in the first place. All forms of rationality point to the latter.
Austin Graves is a senior history major from Sioux Falls, S.D.