There’s only one way to be an effective political actor on Election Day, and that’s voting a straight ticket. Don’t throw away your vote by splitting your ticket.
Political scientist Jonathan Bernstein makes the case:
On Tuesday, I’ll be voting for … the candidate nominated by my party.
Indeed, that’s my strong advice to everyone: figure out which party you would prefer to see in the White House, and vote for that candidate, and every other candidate nominated by that party. Doesn’t matter who the particular candidates are, what you think of them as people, or as politicians, or anything else. Pick a party and stick with it. That’s it.
Given the way U.S. politics works in 2012, one would have to be nuts to do anything else.
Party is simply a much better indicator of public policy for an incoming president than anything else. That’s in part because of the commitments that politicians make. However, it’s more than that; if it were only about positions, one could track the promises they make to get there. It’s also about groups.
Americans often like to believe that individuals are all on their own, but in fact when it comes to politics we usually act, and unless we have unusual resources only act effectively, as part of groups. Those groups tend to be affiliated with one or the other of our major political parties. And those parties, and the politicians that they elect, know it – and so elected officials tend to be especially responsive to the groups within their electoral coalition. So, for example, knowing that Barack Obama was a Democrat and that as organized groups gays and lesbians are aligned with the Democrats turned out to be a far better predicter of Obama’s position on marriage than, for example, what he actually said on the campaign trail in 2008.