I had a professor in college whose area of research was political parties, their history, and how people identify with them. It was all very interesting, though admittedly I never actually read any of the thesis he had posted among family pictures on his university website.
Anyway, his suggestion for voting was to do the research to determine which party suited you best and then vote straight party ticket. Every decade or so, he said, or during particularly contentious primaries, you might reevaluate how each party and/or candidate aligns with your views — but for the most part, just be a partisan and be done with it.
I can’t say that I was ever swayed by the argument, but it was interesting, nonetheless. I was reminded of it today by this post from worstthatcouldhappen on Tumblr, which another blogger, squashed, responded to. The original post is very brief, and basically argues that you do lots of research and vote based on what you’ve learned about the issues, concluding: “Use logic not emotion when making decisions that effect the rest of the world.”
Squashed’s reply disagreed, advocating that voters simply go with their guts. Considering the issues logically, he writes, is the “wrong tool for the job,” and:
Thinking logically about the issues is not for helping you decide between candidates. By the time you sit down to do your thinking, you’ve already made your decision. The purpose of “thinking logically about the issues” is to help you feel smug about the decision you already made.
I understand the perspective (and the point about feeling smug is too often spot on), but it seems to me that the primary problem with this argument is that it severely discounts the filters through which we receive information about our candidates.