The Universe wants me to vote for Ron Paul

Boo Universe! Boo American politics and your absence of choices!


You can try this electoral quiz that tells you who you should vote for here. The Universe has apparently determined that I should vote for Ron Paul -- which is really unfortunate for the Universe because I ain't doin' it.

Try for yourself. Or you can feel free to speculate in the comments while all libertarian candidates (big L or little l) are such nutcases.

UPDATE: Daniel Drezner is having a similar issue.

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This is why I hate these kinds of on-line quizzes. Any idea who made it? Call me paranoid and skeptical, but I wouldn't be surprised if it were the spawn of Paul supporters.

Notice how Paul is (inexplicably) the closest candidate to the center of the graph, hence the most moderate. If the bulk of respondents are somewhat moderate in their views (e.g. answering "tend to" rather than "completely"), guess where they're going to fall? My guess is that about 80-90% of the people who take this test are going to fall closest to Ron Paul.

So is Ron Paul a moderate? Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Good one.

Ron Paul is a moderate in the same way that a broken clock shows the correct time twice a day.

By Matt Platte (not verified) on 10 Jan 2008 #permalink

Yep, I totally was informed that I should vote for Paul too. In fact, my little pointer was pretty much smack dab where yours is, Jake. Which means if you run someday, I'll probably be told I should vote for you. And I would, if only to plague your administration with damning evidence of your youthful shenanigans.

So Ron Paul is to the left of most of the Republican field on economics? I'm not buying it.

Still, looks like a fun diversion...


The "center" is a meaningless concept - it's just where you put your axes. What matters is the order of the candidates relative to each other, which seems pretty accurate for Paul - he's more liberal on non-economic questions than the rest of the Republican field, but less so than the Dems. He actually does have pretty moderate social policy views - he's content to leave gay marriage and abortion to the states, which represents the moderate end of Republican social policy. His immigration position is pretty solidly in the middle of the Republican party distribution and he's on the more liberal end of the Democratic party on civil liberties.

The biggest problems with the quiz are in the distribution of the more traditional candidates relative to each other -the paucity of economic questions on the quiz on which there is disagreement within the candidates for a given party bunches them up and doesn't really reflect the intraparty order well (Hillary, for example, is probably not the leftmost candidate on economics).

The two-axis analysis also doesn't work particuarly well for the question set, which includes lots of civil liberties and foreign policy questions, which I'm assuming get lumped under the "social" category.

The "center" is a meaningless concept - it's just where you put your axes.

Well, no, not if it's how you calculate the responses as well. The scale of responses was from: completely agree -- tend to agree -- neutral -- tend to disagree -- completely disagree.

My guess is that "neutral" doesn't move you at all, "tend to" moves you a little in either direction along either axis, and "completely" moves you a lot. If most respondents answered primarily with "tend to" instead of "completely", they're going to fall near the center of the graph. And the loonies who put this graph together just happen to put Paul near the center of the graph.

I don't think someone who favors abolishing most government agencies, including the Department of Education and the IRS can be considered "moderate".

I was impressed that my dot landed on Obamas face -and he is the one I support. Although I disagree on some issues.

I suspect boiling things down to only two dimensions means some strong positions cancel out. For instance for RonPaul, I like his anti-imperialism -which is clearly a hard-left position by my meaning of left/right, but his position on some other issues would be hard right. Perhaps that suggests a third dimension variance from the simple 2D analysis.

I suspect libertarians are nuts because they take a reasonable principle, but treat it as if it were the only thing that matters. The world is complex enough to require nuance, and one philosophy fits all tends to make for a pretty poor match.

He actually does have pretty moderate social policy views - he's content to leave gay marriage and abortion to the states

...which is a little less reassuring to those of us that are from Texas.

Derek, that site has been around for years. It most definitely was not created by Paul supporters.

I'm a libertarian, and I score as a Paul supporter on that test. Too bad I'm a Canadian, and the political parties here are either socialist or neocon. You don't know how envious I am that you Americans have this huge opportunity to support 3rd party views.

This is an excellent example of why a two-party system is such a bad, bad idea. Note, first, that the "left-right" axis is often split into two dimensions: a progressive-conservative axis, and a liberal-interventionist axis.

We have, depending on whether you accept that split or not, four or eight basic positions that (at least in moderation) can be taken by reasonable people. Eight possible basic political viewpoints. Two parties. People falling in six of those eight positions end up with no representation and nobody to vote for in order to change that.

I got a similar score to yours, Jake. It is particularly funny for me because I was reading just now comments to an old post of yours in which you argued that the fact that some prominent libertarians are kooks is not a good reason why you should not call yourself that, whereas that fact is the very reason why I no longer call myself a libertarian.

The again, I would trust these tests too much. I once had a test tell me that my best candidate was Kuzinich, but when the test itself showed me a sample of his voting record I disagreed with every single instance in it.

By Valhar2000 (not verified) on 11 Jan 2008 #permalink

That y-axis is a poor design. Rather than being progressive versus conservative, it should be liberty versus authoritarianism. That would be more meaningful. As it stands in that axis, those who favor the most liberty (Paul) wind up in the center.


Yes, the axis represents the center of the question set, but the center of the question set doesn't necessarily correspond to the median voter (let's call it the "political center"). In the case of this quiz, there were a few questions where the median and modal responses would both be an agree or disagree value. The center of the questions in a quiz like this should represent the center of the candidate field in order to best capture the distinctions betweeen them and Paul's presence skews the center of the candidate field towards libertarianism relative to the political center.

If you want to find where the political center lies on a test like this, a good rough technique is to bisect a line between the centers of the two clusters of "mainstream" candidates (if you want to get fancy, you can weight the entire field by popular support and do a linear regression). I ran a test "moderate" through based on what I remember from polling regarding similar questions and they fell near the midpoint of the line, so I'm pretty confindent that the technique works with this quiz.

Yes, the axis represents the center of the question set, but the center of the question set doesn't necessarily correspond to the median voter (let's call it the "political center").

Why should it? If the general population has a measurable ideological inclination, why wouldn't we want to be able to display that tendency? The axes should be set at actual ideological neutrality to convey maximum information.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 11 Jan 2008 #permalink

Kucinich isn't even on here, but Richardson, who just dropped out of the race, is. Go figure.