Modern political science has cast doubt on the average citizen’s acumen when it comes to voting, and there may be some truth to that suspicion. Even though suffrage is one of the basic rights that people living in a democracy are entitled to, that does not mean that individuals should vote just for the sake of voting. Suffrage is indeed a right, but it is also a privilege, therefore it is essential to do some research before filling out a ballot. Politics is in many ways like sports, not least in how the preference for one political party or another is inherited from one’s parents, who in turn inherited it from theirs. Voting is very important, but so is knowing who and what people are voting for.
Being part of a specific political party does not mean voting for that party’s candidate for life, in fact, there have been several well known deviations such as the Reagan democrats in the 80’s (democrats that voted for republican Ronald Reagan), and the Clinton conservatives in the 90’s (republicans who voted for democrat Bill Clinton). It all comes down to voting research, finding out each candidate’s platform and voting for the one that the individual identifies the most with, regardless of political colors. In other words, voting for what the person considers to be the best for themselves individually, and for the whole country in general, based on factual information.
On the other side of the spectrum are politicians, the ones that the people are voting, or not voting for. In order to assure that they are indeed being voted for, candidates must keep close track of voting trends. Voting tendencies may and probably will vary from one election to the next. Voting trends are also very closely related to demography, age, ethnicity and several different factors. Other trends are common to most elections, such as that of swing voters.
Swing voters are those that may not be affiliated with a particular party or that will vote across party lines. In U.S. politics for instance, many centrists, liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats are deemed swing voters, since their voting patterns cannot be accurately predicted. Swing voters are undecided about which party to vote for, as opposed to partisans that will vote for their party’s candidate regardless of what the opposition offers. Therefore, candidates tend to pay special attention to them, specially since swing votes have been known to heavily influence some elections. An example of this is Jesse Ventura’s Minnesota gubernatorial bid, in which first time and swing voters are believed to have given the advantage to Ventura, a third party candidate. It might be said that these voters have a bigger responsibility to be informed since their vote may actually tip the scale one way or another.