Election Addiction

(Photo: League of Women Voters of California LWVC)

From mid-July to mid-October, I became addicted—to the Presidential election. By October 20, I was looking at the FiveThirtyEight blog at least four times a day, and was constantly checking Google News and other websites.  This was a classic addiction—after three or four searches each time, I stopped because my marginal utility was diminishing.  But after another hour without my “fix,” I had to search again and got tremendous pleasure from that first search.  The addiction was interfering with my work.

The theory of rational addiction suggested a solution—go cold turkey.  So I vowed not to look at the FiveThirtyEight blog—and I’ve now been “clean” for 6 days.  To mitigate my withdrawal symptoms, watching the NLCS and the World Series has served as my methadone. Watching baseball for me has the virtue that it’s self-contained—I’ve not developed any addiction and only watch the games.  And if I can stay clean through Nov. 6, my problem will be solved!

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  1. joan mcgregor says:

    my symptoms exactly! i haven’t been able to quit 538 blog but did bring myself to unfollow all campaigns on twitter. as a tigers fan, baseball is no help!

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  2. Steven says:

    Here in Virginia (a swing state with the commensurate number of ads) I had a very similar problem. I needed to vote early because of travel and found that after I’d voted I simply didn’t care anymore about what was going to happen. I didn’t expect this response but it has been liberating.

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  3. James says:

    “…watching the NLCS and the World Series has served as my methadone.”

    Methadone? Say rather that your election habit served as a gateway drug to a far more destructive habit. Elections, after all, are self-limiting, and could have significant real-world effects on you. Televised sports you can watch year-round, and (unless you’re into sports betting) will never affect the rest of your life. So beer in one hand, remote in the other, you sink into your self-referential addiction…

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  4. JAM says:

    For me, paying attention to the election progress isn’t so much an addiction as a matter of self-preservation.

    Every night I have to glance over my left shoulder, to make sure the Dem mugger isn’t getting too close to my wallet.

    Then I have to glance over my right shoulder to protect against the GOP mugger form getting too close to my wallet.

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    • mfan2 says:

      Yeah, I’ve actually stopped voting since Republicans had a majority in the House and Senate, and had President Bush in charge. They did NOTHING to shrink the size of government in those two years. The Tea Party is really a reaction to that sad fact. I’ll vote for Romney, but I hope he doesn’t let me down like President Bush did.

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      • JAM says:

        I feel your pain.

        Consider a 3rd party vote.

        As you say the Republicans did nothing to reduce government’s footprint. By continuing to vote for either of the two dominant parties, you are signaling that at least one of their products is acceptable, even if not desirable.

        A third party vote will signal that this paradigm has changed.

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  5. mfan2 says:

    The New York Times is wasting yours, because their reporting of polling counts as advocacy. Pollsters have to flat out guess what the breakdown of the voter turnout will be – what the ratio of Republicans, Democrats, and Independants will be. Then the have to blend that in the results of their polls. This varies considerably. Right now, Democrat pollsters are merrily predicting/hoping for a voter turnout like 2008, one of the all time high turnout years for Democrats. They are at least hoping Democrats will show up at the polls in numbers they did in 2006. But according to the Gallup organization (and common sense), Republicans might actually go to the polls in greater numbers than Democrats this year. If so, that means there will be a Republican landslide in the Presidential race, and the Republicans will retake the Senate, while keeping the House.

    This is the reality you should ready yourself for. If nothing else, try to keep track of which organizations polls were most accurate so you can ignore the inaccurate ones next time. Try visiting the unskewedpolls website, among others, for more information.

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    • whynot says:

      Happened to be sitting next to a couple of republicans this passed week. Of course the con turned to politocs . They were staunch. No changing their minds.
      So i did not even try and spoke of the tension pitch and it’s destructive impact on our democracy. They ended it. I realized something…there are many people out their with no real experience with others other than people like themselves. They live in a social bubble of ignorance.. how to reach those capable of understanding the real value of scientific knowledge.
      The challenge!

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  6. Nick says:

    I was more repulsed than addicted, but I also went cold turkey on the election. I mailed in my early ballot as soon as possible and will remain blissfully ignorant of the election until the results are out.

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  7. Kenny BBK says:

    Can an App Predict The Next United States President? Prez Elect USA app promises to predict Election winner!

    Forget the political pundits and polls, the leaderboard on this App will apparently predict the outcome of the next US Presidential Election. Users of the App vie to become a top player and help their party become victorious. The player’s choice of “Elefant” or “Donky” sends a clear message as to which political party they support. The top players’ scores helps to determine which party wins more “Prez” Elections and holds power longer. Thus, not only are players achieving a personal best, but they are also achieving a collaborative best for their political party. The Top Standings graph reflects the most winning party in real-time.

    It is much like using the amount of funds raised as an indicator for Election victory. Although, Michael Moore argues that the influence of money in politics would lift Mitt Romney to victory over President Barack Obama in November, it’s not that simple. The more funds one raises does not automatically allow that candidate to buy an election. Steve Levitt attempts to dispel the myth that money buys elections. Levitt’s study found that “money doesn’t necessarily cause a candidate to win — but, rather, that the kind of candidate who’s attractive to voters also ends up attracting a lot of money. So winning an election and raising money do go together, just as rain and umbrellas go together. But umbrellas don’t cause the rain. And it doesn’t seem as if money really causes electoral victories either…” In the same way, the popular candidate will attract more players to their side with this App.

    And then there’s the ace in the hole. This is seemingly an App for kids (although many adults enjoy it too!) And what do kids know? Apparently a whole lot. Scholastic has polled American school children since 1940. And the school urchin have got it right all but twice. The two misses being 1948 Dewey over Truman and 1960 Nixon over Kennedy. That’s pretty impressive.

    Put these two factors together and the app creators over at Quatrian may be on to something. We have less than a week to see if they are correct.

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