The UX of Primaries – Part II

Published 4 Comments on The UX of Primaries – Part II

Ok, so now we have a second data point after Iowa.  New Hampshire, which was a dead-even race for Clinton and Obama now has Obama ahead by 13 percentage points.

It is riddiculous to say that New Hampshire was taking into account the “retail campaigning” that happens in Iowa because New Hampshire gets it just the same.  You can’t say that New Hampshire care what “white Iowa voters” thought about Obama because New Hampshire is mostly white as well.  The only explanation for a 13% overnight swing is simple: People like to vote for the winner.

This is the reason they don’t allow the east coast voting to be shown on the west coast is because it has a very real effect on voter preference.  This is simple human psychology.  People can’t be objective if they know what other people are doing.  A person can be objective, but a mass of people can not.

A great book on this subject is “The Wisdom of Crowds” by James Surowiecki.  Crowds can be awesome at deciding things if given the right circumstances.  One of those key pre-requisites is that the people do not know what the other people have said.  The primaries is completely destroying the basis of asking the crowd to make a good decision.  Only by voting on the same day, without knowing the results when you vote can you hope for the voter to understand.

Don’t think this is all about politics.  This is about your web application and any web voting too.  When the user knows the outcome for other users, he/she will mimic that behavior with statistical relevance.  This includes asking the user about which feature is better and what their satisfaction or engagement is.  Even online polls about politics suffer from this.

UX Theory #32: A mass of people voting on anything will be influenced by knowing the outcome of previous voters.  They will mimic the winning behavior by a large statistical margin.

My prediction on the rest of the primaries.  Huckabee will win.  Obama will win.

One hope:  I hope Hillary Clinton stays in the senate for the rest of her career.  I would love to see her as Majority leader.  I would love to see her move to the LEFT.  I thought she should have countered Obama’s “change” message with the following.  “Is change good for change’s sake?  I am interested in PROGRESS.  Change just means different.  Do we want something different or something better?  I want to leave the world better than I found it.  Not just swap one dysfunction for another”.

I think that would have played well.


  1. You missed your calling–political strategist! Well, maybe you din’t miss your calling. Huckabee will not win. But if he is nominated he will be Obama’s greatest asset.

  2. The truth is that Obama is as much of a socialist as Hillary. And if Hillary were to move an inch to the LEFT she’d have to change her name to Karla Stalin.

  3. From what I’ve seen, it’s not so much just a sense of “change” that makes Obama likable, but the fact that he’s also “shiny and new”, i.e. a Washington outsider (which isn’t a bad thing).

Whatya think?