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
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.