Thursday, April 22, 2010

The power of a vote

Completely contrary to received wisdom, people are wildly optimistic about how much voting power they personally have.

In truth, it’s vanishingly unlikely that your vote will make a difference between a candidate winning or losing. Only 14 constituency results since 1918 have been majorities of under ten votes; just one of these was in the last 35 years (Winchester in 1997, by two votes). There are no single-vote wins on record.

But an unnoticed finding in an ICM poll this week was that a really quite huge 48% of people think that their vote will make a difference to which candidate wins in their constituency. This figure is pretty consistent across different demographic groups.

Delusional, but heart-warmingly so. And good for turnout. Let’s not tell them.

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