What influences our votes

In just under a month, many of you will be facing for the responsibility of voting for the first time. This is not something to be taken lightly as our voting is our way of voicing our opinions on how we think our country should be run.

All voters should be voting for parties and politicians that they think have good policy, since it is those policies which will determine the direction of New Zealand. But if the majority of voters know very little about the different policies and agendas of political parties and list MPs by the time they hit the voting booths, how do they vote?

Political Compass

Obviously media exposure is important in gaining votes, as you cannot vote for a party or a person if you have no idea that they exist. How personable a leader is compared to his opponent can also be a contributing factor. However media exposure and a candidate’s charisma are not the only factors that can cause voters to not vote with their policies they identify with.

Many studies have shown that where you vote can affect what policies you identify with and ultimately how you vote. The study showed that voters give more weighting to policies depending on their surroundings. For example, people voting in a school are more likely to support a party with strong educational policies, more than they would normally.

School Bus

Our Prime Minister John Key and the leader of the opposition Phil Goff have both stated that the results of the Rugby World Cup will have no effect on the election. This is unlikely to be true. A Stanford University studyshows that a change of up to 4% towards the incumbent (the party currently in power) can be caused by a favorable sports result. That might not seem like much, but that would have been enough to break the Australian hung Parliament at their last elections. Turns out the All Blacks’ performance can have a serious effect on Australian Policy.

Rugby Ball

Finally another well-documented strong voting influence is (unsurprisingly) how the politician looks. The studytook brain scans of subjects, showed them pictures of politicians they were unfamiliar with, and asked them to vote for one based only on their looks. The results nearly mirrored actual outcomes.

So what do these studies say? It shows us that many things which shouldn’t influence how we vote can and do influence our votes, whether or not we recognize that they do.
What will determine how you vote? A candidate’s looks, or their political beliefs and their agendas?

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