In Maine Senate race, national Democrats act like voters

It’s been reported that national Democrats, like national Republican groups have already, will engage in the Maine Senate race. Democrats will be running ads critical of Republican candidate Charlie Summers.

In this, they’re behaving like voters.

Sometimes voters vote for candidates they like, even really like.

But sometimes voters vote to try to prevent their least liked, lowest ranked candidate who has a chance of winning, from winning.

This year quite a lot of Republicans will be for Mitt Romney, not because they particularly like him, but because they really don’t want President Obama to be re-elected. (For example, a September Pew poll found, “Roughly half of Romney’s supporters say they are voting against Obama rather than for the Republican nominee.”)

In Maine in 2010, Mr. Cutler gained a lot of votes in the last half week or so from voters who preferred Libby Mitchell as governor, but who really did not want Paul LePage to win.

As political theorist Thomas Hobbes argued centuries ago, people are often motivated – quite strongly – to avoid pain and this may be more of a motivation than the desire to achieve pleasure.

Campaign and voter decisions may be based in those motivations.

Turns out, campaign decisions can be positively Hobbesian.


Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.