22-Person Poll: Why Did New Yorkers Even Vote Today?

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The results of our unscientific poll.

Mitt Romney is definitely going to be the Republican nominee for president, but New York still held its Republican presidential primary today, because ... they have to, we guess. It's like when a basketball team — mostly likely the Charlotte Bobcats — are down by 30 points with two minutes left in the fourth quarter; they still have to play out the rest of the game, even though the outcome is no longer in doubt. But basketball players get paid to do that. Why did a very small number of New York Republicans take the time to travel to a polling station and cast a vote today in an election that just doesn't matter? To find out, we sent intrepid intern Rebecca Berg to various polling places in the Upper East Side — a relative GOP stronghold as far as Manhattan is concerned — to ask 100 voters what motivated them. However, so few people are voting today (see also: this) that we eventually settled for an even-less-representative sampling of 22 voters. 

Each of the 22 voters was asked why they voted today, and was provided with five choices:

a.) A feeling of civic duty
b.) To help my preferred candidate win the primary
c.) To show support for my preferred candidate even though I know it won't affect the outcome
d.) Other

As you can see in the pie chart above, civic duty was the main factor, and a sizable number of people seemed to think their vote still mattered in some way, even though it does not. Here's a sampling of some other explanations we heard from voters: 

  • "I happened to be in the neighborhood, and I got two calls from Mitt Romney. I like him."
  • "Romney has the nomination wrapped up, but I wanted to add my support for him."
  • "I always believe any vote makes a difference. I vote all the time."
  • "Mr. Romney called me up. I just wanted to show my support."
  • "I got an e-mail from a friend telling me to vote."
  • "I live a block away, so why not? I've never missed a vote."
  •  "I figured I should vote because no one else was. I got a recorded phone call last night and thought I should vote. Romney will get the nomination, but then he'll lose in New York anyway. That's the way the world is, I guess."
  • "I wanted to make sure that my candidate won every state possible. Santorum is still on the ballot." 

We don't think Santorum is going to be a threat. Twenty out of twenty-two poll respondents told us they voted Mitt Romney. The other two wouldn't say.