by Ron McNinch, for KUAM News
Guam - On Guam, we have two types of political races. The first type of race is the collective group election where voters have up to 15 opportunities to express their opinions. We have found that on average, citizens only use about 12 of these votes in an election. The reason is some voters only vote for two or three candidates or "bullet" vote. This increases the support of these few candidates while denying support for any other candidates. The reason this happens is votes are cumulative in nature. If a person uses all 15 of their legislative votes, the high vote getters more strongly distance themselves from the rest of the pack. Other collective group elections include the school board, and various other public boards.
Of course the goal of every candidate is for you to vote for them. The most effective method for this is for the candidate to ask the voter for his or her vote. In a political environment like Guam, this is actually possible using a sort of indirect reference effect. While asking for a voters vote is important, asking the voter to ask his friends and family to also support them has a sort of magnifying effect. Good politicians on Guam know this and use it to their advantage.
The second type of race is an individual or "head to head" race. The US Guam Delegate, AG, Public Auditor, mayors, vice mayors, and of course the gubernatorial races are all head to head. One key difference in these types of races is the role of criticism. In collective races, few candidates are really critical because everyone is running as a group. In the head to head races, talking about what a candidate will do, has done, is doing or is proposing to do is the bread and butter of these elections. This is a wonderful exchange aspect of these races. Generally, these exchanges are high road contrasts of ideas. At the primary stage, candidates generally stay in their lanes and seek to get their party affiliates to support them.
Because of the direct competition, some of these elections go to the low road. Direct remarks about a candidate, their families, and other details are raised in an effort to either drag down or discredit candidates. In the past, candidates have been accused of all sorts of things, true and untrue.
On Guam, the low road is often a "no" road. The reason is we actually know the candidates. When bullies call our friends bad names, the effect is to defend them, not agree with the person attacking them. Some lessons should have been learned in kindergarten, not in the media on an election stage.