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One of the more annoying habits of elections commentary is ascribing a collective will to the electorate

Fair point, and I was actually conscious of it while writing that sentence, and decided it would do in a metaphorical sense.  Of course there can be an element of tactical voting - e.g. vote for Edwards in order to keep the race alive even if you don't really support him - but it is anthropomorphic, or something like that, to ascribe "a will" to the electorate as a whole.  

People vote all sorts of different ways for all sorts of different reasons and then the political analysts come along later and "tell us" why they did so - as if all those different reasons could be summed or averaged into one overall resultant reason rather like how, in physics, all sorts of different forces coming from different directions can be reduced to one "resultant".

Please accept my apologies for a somewhat lazy rhetorical sleight of hand.  But in order for commentary to be possible at all, we have to try to reduce many thousands of different motivations to a few explanatory variables.  Perhaps more correct would have been to say that the effect of all the different voting behaviours has been to keep the race remarkably open, with those touted by the media (and polls) as hot favourites often experiencing a late swing against.

Lets call it the reverse bandwagon hypothesis!

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 16th, 2008 at 06:41:35 PM EST
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