Gabriel Hidalgo Andrade *

In a controversial interview offered to a newspaper Earth In Spain, Ecuador’s former president, Rafael Correa, insisted he would return to the country to issue a new constitution, reorganize the country and overturn his trials. He confirmed that he has the electoral capital to return and be president. A few days later, on Tuesday, June 13, Correísmo presidential candidate Luisa González registered her political candidacy amid “one round” of harangue, citing the fact that she would win the election without going through the ballot.

All pollsters agree that correísmo enjoys support of around 25%, which some call “correísmo’s heavy vote”. Paradoxically, the same pollsters agree that the margins of undecidedness, barely two weeks before the elections in Ecuador, after President Lasso dissolved Congress, remain consistently at 70%. How can there be a disciplined vote with such a small margin of decisive voters?

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There are several persuasion maneuvers in this election game that, in black and white, are not what they appear to be. According to studies, many voters like to win and very often bet on the winner of the polls, thus creating a false consensus effect. But what happens when those polls don’t reflect reality?

For Christopher J. Anderson, of the London School of Economics, and Andrew J. Lotempio, of Binghamton University, in their study of the relationship between winning and political trust, “Winning, Losing, and Political Trust in America,” the vote is not only an act of trust , but the intention of believing that someone will win the competition.

Crucial choice

Voting for the winner has been shown to have a positive impact on other political attitudes, such as feelings of receptiveness to government, satisfaction with democracy, and people’s willingness to engage in political activism. Voters favor any of the possible options, with the intention of becoming materially or emotionally connected to the political offer they hope will win.

Anderson and Lotempio argue that the experience of winning or losing affects how voters perceive the political system. Winning or losing, and being in the majority or the minority, are concepts that people use to understand the political environment and influence their later attitudes. Voters even switch candidates when they show no chance of winning, a phenomenon called “strategic voting.”

Presidential debate: other issues

Director of the Center for the Study of Voting, Elections and Democracy at the University of New Mexico, Lonna Rae Atkeson, said in her study, “Of course I voted for the winner! An Overwhelming Report on Party Candidate Primary Voting in National Election Studies” which people are more likely to vote for their second choice if they feel their first choice has little chance of winning. This effect is particularly associated with the category of “wasted vote” or the desire of voters not to waste their vote.

According to Rae Atkeson, voters have three options when faced with a choice: favorite, second choice, or void/abstain. The voter always hopes that his favorite will be the winner. In the belief that the favorite will not win, the voter changes his decision to the one he believes to be the winner, thus becoming his second choice. If the first two options are not met, the voter withdraws from voting or cancels his vote.

For experts Vicki G. Morwitz and Carol Pluzinski of New York University, voter exposure to polling stations changes candidate preferences. Some studies even refer to this effect of influencing majority opinion as the “bandwagon effect” or the “resistance effect.”

An individual’s idea system finds a state of cognitive consistency when the average voter and the poll voter agree. This match is called a false consensus error. Polls give voters information about how the electorate thinks about who should be president, and therefore function as a reality check of voters’ expectations of the election outcome. Thus, when a voter is exposed to this information and is convinced that his candidate will not win, he might change his mind and bet on the “winning horse” in the contest.

However, many voters overestimate the probability of their preferred candidate winning. For example, according to Morwitz and Pluzinski, during the week leading up to the 1992 US presidential election, 68.9% of George Bush’s supporters falsely believed that other voters shared their support for their candidate, leading to a false consensus pattern that was what polls have reflected. But Bill Clinton won the election.

When voters are in a dissonant or undecided state before being exposed to a poll, and when the polls confirm expectations about the election outcome, many voters change their preferences to match their expectations and poll information. This is where manipulation can occur.

When polls are given to voters whose attitudes toward candidates are changing, they may change their attitudes and voting behavior. Depending on preferences and expectations, Morwitz and Pluzinski say polls can serve to reinforce existing expectations and attitudes, change voters’ expectations about who will win an election, or cause changes in attitudes toward candidates.

Does correísmo have 25% hard votes compared to 70% undecided? He is gone. If a preference of 25% is compared to a margin of decision of 30%, the proportion would be 7.5% “faithful vote”. On the contrary, the 20% or 25% attributed to him could indeed be his electoral ceiling if this figure is compared with the results of the last local elections in Ecuador.

Figures are more categorical than stories in politics. Insisting on a false consensus of hard voting is the strategy of those who want to show themselves the winners. Will this narrative maneuver work? (OR)

* Gabriel Hidalgo is a political scientist and lawyer. Professor at the University of America (Quito). Master of Political Science and Administration, Flacso-Ecuador., a plural communication medium dedicated to the dissemination of critical and truthful information about Latin America. Follow us on @Latinoamerika21