the shy voter problem

Tom Switzer

In 2016 U.S. pollsters had to deal with the “shy Trump” factor. People feared admitting they’d vote for the Republican nominee because he was socially unacceptable. The same dynamic was at work in Britain during the 2016 referendum on whether to leave the European Union. Polls pointed to a Remain victory, but millions of shy Brexiteers crept into the polling booths and voted Leave. By depicting its opponents as backward and deplorable, the left intimidated them into going underground, making it impossible to gauge their strength before an election.

Shy voters now shape Australian politics. During the past three years, television and social-media outlets created a climate of opinion in which it was politically incorrect to oppose identity politics, high taxes, wealth redistribution and costly climate-mitigation policies. In the privacy of the voting booth, “quiet Australians,” as Mr. Morrison calls them, decided that their interests lay in a low-tax and resource-rich market economy. 

Prediction: Increasing calls from the left for ending the secret ballot. “People should have to take responsibility for their votes!” Intimidating the non-woke and moderates into silence has, generally speaking, worked throughout the English-speaking world; intimidating them into voting “correctly” has not. When faced the the choice between (a) abandoning the strategy of mocking and belittling all the unconvinced and (b) changing laws to make mockery and belittlement more effective, I bet I know which way many, and especially the most vocal, of the left will turn. 

May 20, 2019

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