Salary Survey Extra: When is an election a sure thing?
Salary Survey Extra is a series of dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our annual Salary Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.
In the waning decades of the Roman Republic, a charismatic young tribune named Gaius Marius (destined to become one of the most influential reformers in Roman history) threw the weight of his office behind the passage of a very particular election law. The new law stipulated a dramatic narrowing of the corridors by which voters accessed that period’s equivalent of the modern ballot box.
The idea behind the law was to curtail harassment of voters by wealthy elites, who often gathered at the polls and demanded to inspect ballots before they could be cast. There is no one-size-fits-all cure for election tampering, of course. When Marius was elected to the office of praetor a few years after his dabbling in election reform, critics assailed him with charges of ballot fraud.
As podcaster Mike Duncan observes in Episode 31a of his excellent podcast The History of Rome, “I guess it doesn’t matter how narrow a passageway is if the man walking down it is going to cast 50 votes.”
This is all by way of introducing this week’s particular tidbit from our most recent annual Salary Survey, an item that concludes our reporting of “news” from those Not So Serious questions at the end of the survey. In this instance, we looked back across recent events and noted the election — or should we say “election” — of Vladimir Putin to a fourth non-consecutive term as president of Russia.
We left the question of whether we should say “election” up to survey respondents. Is there something shady about Putin serving either as Russia’s president or its prime minister from 1999 to the present? An impartial observer would probably say something along the lines of “(heck)s yeah.”
Old Marius, who served as consul of the Roman Republic seven times, including for five consecutive terms from 104 to 100 B.C., would probably take a different view. As, no doubt, would Putin himself. Shenanigans, comrade? Nyet. Here’s what we learned from putting the question in the hands of certified IT professionals:
Q: Vladimir Putin was elected President of Russia for the fourth time on March 18 (2018) because:
The system is rigged and the job is his for as long as he wants it. — 51.3 percent
He is a strong leader whose strongest strength is leading strongly. — 22.4 percent
There are presidential elections in Russia? — 20.3 percent
U.S. hackers tampered with the vote to ensure re-election. Duh. — 6.0 percent
Did we snark a bit? Yeah, we probably snarked a bit. When you’re essentially wrapping up your second full decade as the most powerful political figure in one of the largest nations on Earth, well, who could question that the benefit of the doubt no longer applies?
At any rate, we’ve now emptied out our stockpile of Not So Serious data, at least until the next Salary Survey rolls around. (Which — spoiler alert! — is likely to happen soon.) Next week, we’ll get back to the good stuff.