How do you vote?

Since this could get debate-y and it is political, I begin it where it is most likely to end up.

Here are the questions, and all questions refer to national elections (president, senator and house of reps):

[li] Do you vote straight party, or do you have individual issues in mind and vote according to each candidates stance on those issues?[/li]
[li] If your vote is issue-oriented, what are the top 3-5 issues that determine who you will vote for in national elections? Please try to give a thumbnail sketch of the issue position your support, i.e. “The economy” is terribly vague. “I vote for the candidate who believes in less regulation on business, which I believe permits it to thrive, and therefore increases the general wealth and my personal wealth.” or “Crime” - again, vague. I’m looking more for “I vote for the candidate that seems to be tougher on crime, which I agree with. I’m motivated to support candidates that support harsher laws and the death penalty.” or whatever.[/li]
[li] Do you find that even though you are voting based on issues, you end up voting the party ticket anyway?[/li]
[li] What are your 3 most-relied upon sources for political information/national news?[/li]
[li] Do you actively participate in any of the major religions? (“major” denotes numbers [and the sons of Abraham, right? ]: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - and I am not asking for which one.)[/li][/ul]

I offer a sincere thank-you in advance to everyone who chooses to share their information.

And I will get the ball rolling by answering the questions myself:

[li] I vote issues, but when it comes to prez, I limit myself to the two major parties since I know they are the only ones with a prayer of getting elected. I am more willing to vote the lesser parties for the Congress.[/li]
[li] [/li]1) The Environment, above all else. I’m a passionate believer that the preservation and care of the natural world is the most important issue our species faces, and that we have a sacred duty to care for the earth and her creatures, for itself and for humanity. All the other issues that come up in politics are by their nature temporary. Environmental choices we make could end up influencing the state of the planet for centuries to come, even millennia.

  1. Reproductive Choice. This long ago ceased to be a personal issue for me, since I am sterile, but it is important to me because I think it is important to our society as a whole. This matter is primarily a Presidential issue, since the President is the one who nominates SC Justices, and it is they who have the power to reverse Roe v. Wade.

  2. Civil Liberties. I choose the candidate I think is mostly likely to support and preserve the individual rights and protections outlined in the Constitution. This is a broad area, obviously, and open to interpretation. As most GD’ers know, I’m a card-carrying member of the ACLU, and as far as I’m aware I agree with their positions and interpretations on everything.

There are other issues I care about, but these are the make-or-breaks.

[li] I find that I end up voting for Democrats for President, every single time without fail, and that in other races I have voted Democrat/Green/Libertarian, depending. I can’t remember any Republican that didn’t make me crazy on some level.[/li]
[li] Currently, I find national news and politics extremely disturbing, so I confess I’m taking in a lot less information right now, just as a mental health issue, and I’m deliberately choosing sources that are more likely to spin in the direction I find less distressing. So I’m hanging with NPR, whichever station is on when I turn on the TV, and about 6 different magazines, including US News, Atlantic Monthly, and Harpers. When I’m feeling more able to handle it, I tune in Fox to hear the spin from the other side. And of course, Doper cites. :D[/li]
[li] No, I do not. I am not an atheist, however.[/li][/ul]

I’ll play

Generally straight party line

NY Times, Wall St. Journal, and (which includes articles from many sources.)

No organized religion

  • I vote on issues. Straight-party votes are generally for mindless lapdogs. However, I would consider voting straight-party under certain circumstances - the current power struggle in the Senate being a good example.

  • The top issues vary, depending on current events. Economic views are almost always a critical factor - I vote for people who won’t try to raise my taxes, who won’t interefere with the free market more than necessary, and who (hopefully) have a demonstrated knowledge of basic economic principles. Experience running businesses is always a plus. In this election, the stance on the war is important; I want candidates to reflect my pro-war attitude wrt Iraq. I also tend to look at their attitude towards personal freedom - anybody promoting a fat tax, another cigarette tax, anti-smoking laws, government usurption of private property, etc. will not be getting my vote, unless the opposition is pretty damned bad.

  • Yes, I tend to find myself voting almost exclusively republican. This doesn’t surprise me much. I believe in the personal freedom/personal responsibility ideals that (at least used to) form the backbone of the republican ideology, so it makes sense I would typically vote for them. I have voted for democrats, and for mild libertarians (I have pretty much libertarian ideals, but I’m also a pragmatist, which most libertarians aren’t). I would vote for anyone who I thought would represent my opinions, of course.

  • I get all my news from the internet. I hit Foxnews, CNN, Washington Times, and Washington Post regularly. I figure that gives me the news from both sides of the aisle. I also read National Review regularly, for excellent political commentary. Oh wait, that’s 5 sources. Ah well, sue me.

  • Nope, I don’t practice (or subscribe to) organized religion, but neither am I an atheist. Quite the opposite, actually.

I do not participate in popularity contests.

I vote on issues, not candidates. It’s actually amusing to me that people tend to make such a big deal about character weakness (Bill Clinton) or intelligence (GW Bush). Even if these weaknesses were always true, which IMHO they are not, I would rather have an idiot in office that I agree with on most issues, than an intelligent person whom I disagree with.

So, I hate to admit it, but I too vote for the big party when it comes to Presidential elections. But, on the smaller ones, I tend to vote Libertarian or Republican. I honestly couldn’t see myself voting for a Democrat just because they take the opposite stance on me on the issues that I find important. I would’t be opposed to the idea of voting in a Democrat, if he stood for the right things, but he would have an uphill battle convincing me of that.

My issues:

Most important of all: Fiscal policy. How much larger is the government going to get under this person? How much will my taxes increase? How much money the government is spending is the source of all programs, good and bad. Everything else that a candidate stands for is secondary.

Gun control. Easy to indentify the good guys here that support the 2nd ammendment. The NRA tells me right before the election what every candidate I am voting for ranks with a letter grade A - F.

There are plenty of issues that I agree with the Dems on:

I am against the drug war.

I am pro-choice.

I am an athiest, so I don’t want the government - religion mix that the Republicans seem to be so fond of.

Well, like I said, any particular issues aren’t that important to me compared with the increasing size of the federal gov’t. Guns could be outlawed tomorrow, and we could reverse that law later. The war on drugs could end next year, and then start up again 10 years later.

The one thing that isn’t easy to change is when Bill Clinton increases the size of the federal government 8% in his last year in office. The size of the MA state budget has doubled in the last 10 years. The Republicans and Libertarians are the only ones who seems interested in stopping this trend. I don’t want to live in a socialist country.

Oh, and Fox news, CNN (regular and headline news), Bloomberg for finance, Drugereport every day, Love Oreilly all the time even though I only agree with him about 75% of the time.

Local news makes me laugh with how silly it is. Network news makes me angry with how biased it is.

A long tradition of hold-your-nose-and-vote-Democratic. And since I’ve mostly lived in states with Republican majorities, I usually wind up voting for losers, which is a pain in the ass. Rarely I get on the winning side by voting for Republicans running for judgeships, treasurer (they tend to be a little better handling money) and such.

Top issues: a coherent policy toward achieving energy independence (neither party is worth a damn), environmental protection (Dems marginally better), population control (seemingly not on anyone’s radar screen) and abortion rights (Dems with clear edge).

Top news sources: N.Y. Times, local paper, NPR, potpourri of major network websites, Fine Gardening.

Reform Agnostic, except when the level of commitment starts feeling too onerous.
"If your vote is issue-oriented, what are the top 3-5 issues that determine who you will vote for in national elections? Please try to give a thumbnail sketch of the issue position your support, i.e. “The economy” is terribly vague. “I vote for the candidate who believes in less regulation on business, which I believe permits it to thrive, and therefore increases the general wealth and my personal wealth.” or “Crime” - again, vague. I’m looking more for "I vote for the candidate that seems to be tougher on crime, which I agree with. I’m motivated to support candidates that support harsher laws and the death penalty." or whatever."

Yeah, that’s me. I’m generally pro-crime if it increases my personal wealth. :smiley:

I consider the issues, listen to the candidates’ stances, weigh their statesmanship, and then vote Republican.

Eljeffe and Debaser are both pretty close to my attitude: small government, less restrictions on trade and personal freedom, fewer taxes, right to bear arms , and I support going into Iraq.

My more liberal agenda: a) I am very pro-choice, but I just hope and pray that abortion couldn’t possible be outlawed in this day and age; b) I’m anti war on drugs.

News sources? on TV: CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN. I rather enjoy the O’Reilly report. Online: AP, Reuters, NY Times, CNN, CBS

Raised Christian but now agnostic. Went through an atheist phase.

OK, I’m in.

Party-line or individual
Like almost everyone else on this board, I think, I look at the candidates. Thanks to a nasty primary this spring, I’m a registered Democrat at the moment, but I’ll go back to my usual Independent after the election. As a rule, I tend not to vote for the two major American parties (Republican and Democrat), and I’ve only voted for an incumbent once, and that was because of an extreme dislike of his opposition.

[ul][li]Reproductive choice, as Stoid put it. While my own views on sexual morality are very strict, I think abortion should be, as a pro-choice group put it once, “safe, legal, and rare.” IMHO, criminalizing abortion may make it rarer, but I fear that women will die or be permanently damaged as a result. Yes, it is a terrible choice.[/li][li]Common sense. I get fed up with politicians who talk about funding new programs while vowing not to increase spending. One of my major objections to Reagan when he first ran for president was he promised to increase defense spending, cut taxes, straighten out Social Security, and balance the budget. The numbers added up all wrong to me, although I was in high school at the time. Right now, my state is roiled up about unfair and poorly administered property taxes to the point where there’s talk of abolishing them. That’s all well and good, but if property taxes are abolished, where will we make up the money from?[/li][li]Quality of campaign. While I’ve resigned myself to some negative campaigning, I will not vote for someone who only tells me why I should not vote for his or her opponent. I read a certain amount of dismay that my generation doesn’t vote much. If all we hear are two people telling us how awful the other guy is, why should we? By the way, I mentioned voting for an incumbent once. That campaign got to the point where I actually got hold of his opponent’s home phone number and called and told his opponent that he had just lost my vote.[/li][/ul]
Straight ticket? The closest I’ve come to voting straight ticket is straight Libertarian.

Here I confess to being somewhat lazy. I mostly rely on my local newspaper, going to Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, and Time for national news. I don’t care about television ads, although I watch some television news. While I was living in Hawaii, I would also walk up to candidates and ask why I should vote for them (on Oahu, anyway, candidates will stand on street corners with their supporters waving signs with their names on them. The candidate’s the one wearing a lei, as a rule.) I will also, as noted, call candidates at home if I feel I need more information. Yes, I’m snarky! :wink:
One important note. The number of signs a candidate has along the side of the road does not influence me at all. That said, I did smile when I saw signs reading simply “Yurt Supervisor” along the road a couple of years ago. Then again, I know someone in the SCA whose persona is a Mongol.

Religious participation.
I’m a devout, renegade, practicing Episcopalian. I figure if I practice it long enough, I may get it right.

Voting for me is actually rather fun. Since I have a rather anarchist streak in me, I’ve been known to describe it as “a legal attempt to overthrow the government.” One of these days, I might even succeed. I am a firm believer in the virtues of democracy and believe that people should inform themselves as much as possible before they step into a voting booth. As a naturalized U.S. citizen, it’s also something I don’t take for granted. I’m a little suspicious of what I see as hyper-patriotism, but when I walk into a voting booth in a few weeks time, it will be with as much pride and joy in this country as anyone waving a flag the size of a pick up truck bed.

See you at the voting booth,

I never vote straight party – as ElJeffe said, it’s for mindless lapdogs. Besides, Illinois Republicans got rid of the straight party option when a Democrat who nobody had ever heard of won a Chicago or Cook County race because so many people voted straight Dem. I found that very amusing. But I digress.

Top issues? First Amendment is first – specifically church/state issues. Any support of pseudoscience is a huge black mark against (whether it’s supporting creationism in schools or featuring a psychic at a fundraiser – and yes, I’ve seen the latter – you can read about it in the letter I sent to the local paper here; oh, she lost – bigtime).

The environment is certainly an issue (as in, not denying reality).

Other “issues” are hypocrisy and experience, but, frankly, it’s hard to find a politician these days who isn’t a hypocrite.

Does this mean I’ll vote a straight party anyway? Well, maybe this time. But in Illinois, the Republicans have been so disgusting lately that I can’t think of a good reason to vote for any of 'em. We have a governor who is sinking in muck of his own creation (though he’s not running for re-election), an AG running for governor after not investigating the muck (among other issues), a prosecutor running for AG after he presided over a horrible travesty of justice that almost ended with an innocent man being executed, etc. Ick, ick, ick.

I vote by candidate, not by party though in larger issues In more National issues I lean strongly towards Republican.

I don’t consider the environment in my vote because I don’t think anybody has a coherent environmental strategy, and the future of our globe rests in the hands of the developing world, not in the US. Technology will be what saves us if anything does.

Reproductive rights are not an issue for me, as I’m torn both ways and aren’t sure what’s right. I don’t want the repeal of Roe vs. Wade, but I don’t want to see abortions extending past the second term except in dire physical emergencies when the mother’s life might be at risk.

My top issue is smaller government. The government can’t give us anything. It’s all ours in the first place, and when we get fooled into thinking the government can give us something, and we let it, the reality is that it’s taking from all of us. I want somebody in Government who works to cut the fat.

I want a strong and clear foreign policy and defense

I want my personal freedoms left alone

I want somebody who is focussed on the good of the community, the gestalt, and not special interest groups.

I want somebody who has not spent their entire career in Public service but has lived and worked in the real world.

I don’t mind somebody who disagrees with me as much as someone who’s telling me what they think I want to hear. I’d rather have to swallow an unpalatable truth, then bite into a sweet lie, and I strongly distrust the person with the quick and easy solution to a difficult problem.

I guess I’m not issue based as much as personality based.

I usually end up voting a mixed bag rather than the party line.

I get my news from the radio and the internet.

QUOTE]• Do you vote straight party, or do you have individual issues in mind and vote according to each candidates stance on those issues?

I never vote straight party, don’t belong to one. My votes have tended towards Democrats. I usually seek out Republicans to vote for, deliberately looking for the ones who have chosen the correct side of the issues I care about in contests with Democrats who’ve put their foot in it. I’ve always felt like the Democrats consider votes like mine automatically “theirs”, so I’m happy to reward Republicans who think outside the box and sometimes end up more aligned with what I want politicians to do than the Democrats. (But more often, some Republican drives me to vote for the opponent in an “anyone but that jerk” sort of way)

a) Candidates oughta be pro-choice. Definitely can’t be pro-life. I wouldn’t vote for a dog catcher who ran for office on a pro-life position.
b) Fiscal responsibility. Used to be a Republican’s issue (and Reagan received my vote for this reason in ‘80 before I got hard-line on abortion rights), now the Democrats are making it a much tighter contest, especially with the Republicant penchant for irresponsible tax cuts. Don’t spend more than you take in, and reduce the damn debt and start paying off what the USA owes.
c) Candidates must not support forced psychiatric treatment. Many a Democrat has lost my vote over this, including New York’s AttyGeneral Abrams. I dont’ give a rats’ ass how much your bleedling heart politics leads you to sympathize with poor defenseless mental patients who need treatment, if you support programs that impose it on us against our will you’re a Nazi. Godwin my ass. The Republicans, oddly enough, do much better on this issue sometimes, although they are not good about restrictions on what psych facilities can and cannot do. Why the hell can’t we get some more Libertarians on the damn ballot???
d) For big offices like you’re asking about: candidates oughta have a general philosphy, not just run on the issues of today. Yeah, yeah, so this is what you’d do about this here hot-button issue. What are your general principles, so I can extrapolate and guess what you’d do on issues you haven’t addressed? And do you have a task or two that you’d like to take on? A goal you’d like to achieve, aside from getting reelected repetitively?
e) World Citizenship. I can 't vote some someone who is going to do destructive things on the world stage. Separate national governments are not likely to be around forever; they may not even outlast me. I want leaders tough enough to keep the US from being pushed around by other countries, but visionary and idealistic enough to participate in forming more and more effective global cooperative strategies, including but most definitely not limited to military.

See above. Short answer: not quite, but the Dems have the edge.

The Straight Dope Message Board, various moderated email digests I subscribe to, and a random assortment of website commentaries such as CNN. I also try to read some non-USA viewpoints on our politicians in the month preceding the election.

No. Hell no.

I tend to vote straight-party for one party, with exceptions when there’s a candiate or issue I really like on the other side. Since I hope to work in electoral politics, I need a strong partisan affiliation. In the past I’ve voted straight Republican, with a few exceptions. This year I’ll likely be voting straight Democratic.

My most important issue has always been the protection of civil liberties, especially and above all else freedom of speech.

Up there as well is usually “economic growth/tax cuts” are good thing, which always made me lean Republican.

But given the changes in my life in the last nine months, I’d have to say that keeping religion and government as far apart as possible has become very important to me, as has opposing the ever-spreading “war” and the cause of civil rights, gay rights in particular. Self-serving? Yes.

The New York Times. A huge spray of websites. CNN and MSNBC.

I’m formally Catholic, tend to attend Episcopal services, but not sure what I beleive anymore. First, I have to nail down my politics, then I can figure out how to reintegrate religion into my life.


QUESTION 1: I’m a Canadian voter. Voting a “Straight party” ticket at one time is not really an option, because in Canada we do not hold our elections on one day, a la the USA’s November election days. Federal and provincial elections can happen, theoretically, at any time preceding five years since the last one.

Also, Canada doesn’t have the same parties at the federal and provincial levels. The Canadian Alliance is a big party at the federal level, but does not run in provincial elections. There is no Progressive Conservative party in Quebec, no Bloc Quebecois in Ontario, no Saskatchewan Party in Manitoba. Also, municipal elections do not tend to be as openly partisan as federal/provincial ones.

ISSUES: This varies from election to election, but my basic hotbutton issues are, in order,

  1. I will tend to vote for a party that favours economic freedom over economic interventionism

  2. I will tend to vote for a party with liberal views on social and legal issues than a party with reactionary views on such issues, especially where individual rights are concerned. Issues here that are of a concern to me are: respect for the freedom of expression, even when unpopular (e.g. Nazi speech); a liberal, individual-freedom outlook on family law, including rights for homosexuals, liberal divorce laws, and abortion rights; individual economic freedom.

  3. I will tend to shy away from parties that seek to solve problems by skirting the Constitution and the rule of law, and vote for parties that on major issues seem to be more interested in the rule of law than in solving a specific problem.

  4. I am extremely pro-immigration and am strongly inclined to vote against a candidate that expresses restrictive views on this

5 I will not vote for parties that do any of the following:

  • I won’t vote for a party that openly supports the right of a province to separate from the country
  • I won’t vote for a party that seems to be strongly influenced by religion
  • I won’t vote for a party that upholds outright socialism, the banning of abortion, “right to work” laws, “male abortion,” or reducing individual rights in a substantial manner.

Like Ahunter, a tiebreaker for me is the candidate’s focal length of approach. Is s/he campaigning on TODAY’S issues, or do they present a general philosophy? I’ll take the latter.

QUESTION 3: “…even though you are voting based on issues, you end up voting the party ticket anyway?”

No. I sincerely doubt any Western democracy has parties that are that consistent.

QUESTION 4: I suppose my 3 most relied-upon sources are CBC, the Globe and Mail, and the National Post. Conveniently, this covers most of the moderate political spectrum in central Canada. For international news I like CNN, BBC, and surfing for foreign newspapers.

I never find national or international news very disturbing, and I love absording as much of it as I can. All I have to do is talk to my grandfather, who fought in WWII and saw some of his friends washed out of their gun turrets with hoses and mops, and who saw black kids hanging from tree branches when he grew up in Ohio in the 30s, to know what life can be like when things are one hell of a lot worse than they are now.


I am an OFFICIAL MEMBER of one of the major religions, and I believe in God, but I do not “Actively” participate in it, if by that you mean attending official services or participating in church activities.

I tend to jump all over the board.

I never vote straight party, and have voted for both Republicans and Democrats, as well as Libertarians, before. In the current climate, my support tends to be Republican.

IN general, I try to vote pro-life. Unfortunately, there is a paucity of candidates that reflect my idea of “pro-life” - that is, both against abortion and against the death penalty - so I’m often forced to make a Hobsen’s choice-type selection. In general, this is a big priority with me.

Economic policies that favor the individual and business, over government, are important. I am firmly convinced that government does more harm as it grows larger, and seeks to impose both a mindset and specific values that are inimical to me, and to good and prosperous society. I believe people should be permitted to reap the rewards their talent or associations bring them, and not be subject to any kind of scheme to redistribute wealth.

Gun issues are important as well, and I support candidates that believe individuals should have a reasonable right to purchase, own, and carry forearms, subject to reasonable, but not onerous, restrictions.

I read the Washington Post on my train ride to work, the Washington Times on my ride home, and follow CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News pretty much interchangeably. I usually catch Meet The Press on the weekends, and the local NBC affiliate’s 11 PM newscast.

And, of course, Leno’s opening monologue. :slight_smile:

I am a practicing Roman Catholic.

  • Rick

Party-line or individual
As much as possible (always, for major offices) I vote for the individual. Sometimes for minor local offices I have no idea who the candidates are or what what stand for, so in those cases where I’m voting in a vacuum I’ll vote Republican.

Usually I end up voting for the Republican candidate, but because my views on the issues cross party lines significantly, you never know. I plan on voting for a Dem governer next month.

The big national issues for me are, in no real order:

  • the Environment (pro-conservation, anti-drilling/mining, etc)
  • abortion rights (I am pro-LIFE)
  • gun control (I am pro-gun control)
  • church/state (I am in favor of state support of faith-based charities)
  • Election reform (I am pro-reform; anti-big corporate donations)

The big state-level issues for me are:

  • Taxes (TN desparately needs an income tax and to scale back sales tax)
  • Education (my wife is a HS teacher and I’ve substituted at the school. The quality of the education there is awful.
  • Lottery (the state is voting on a lottery this year. I’m against for reasons too numerous to list).

You can see what I mean when I say I’m all over the map. Why do I seem to frequently have the minority view?

The internet, campaign web sites, local newspapers.

Religious participation.
I’m a religious Christian and very active in my (Anglican) church. I believe that political awareness and critical evaluation of candidates is a critical responsibility for Christians.