Electoral Calculus 101
You dreaded it in high school and every April 14th since then. It is math, and that subject is more important this year than any other. Do the candidates proposed budgets add up? How much will a prescription drug benefit really cost? Was that last number billions, or trillion? But the most important math this year begins and ends with 1 - your one vote.
In the Presidential race, some people want to make their vote "count" by voting for a third party candidate. Doing the math, the actual result is:
(Nader + 1) + (Gore - 1) = More SO2 (acid rain), less protection for old growth forests, and no right of choice.
In the Senate race:
(Gibson + 1) + (Dayton - 1) = Same do-nothing noneffort we've had for the last six years.
In the 4th Congressional District:
(Foley + 1) + (McCollum - 1) = Less funding for education, eldercare, and environmental protection and back to deficit spending.
O.K., O.K., you get the picture. But the importance of your one vote is even greater in serious three-way races. The more competitive the candidates are, the fewer votes are required to win. Using the 1998 4th Congressional numbers, the race was decided by 33,338 of the total 239,746 votes cast. If the turnout stays the same in 1998, the Republican total of 95,388 is sufficient to win if only 14% of the votes go elsewhere.
There is an idea out there that individual votes don't count. But the math proves otherwise. So long as voters stick to the candidate in fundamental agreement with their issues, showing the most strength, electoral calculus is an easy course.
Congratulations, you got an A.