rational romney

Remember a few months ago when a Romney staffer compared election campaigns to an Etch-a-Sketch? Each time, you shake things up and start over. People were appalled, but Romney’s staffer was correct. The reason is that elections are not driven by high information voters with strong opinions. They are driven by low information voters with no opinions. The reason is that people who know politics tend to know what they want. To get 50%, you need to focus on the weakly committed, low information voter. The person who still isn’t sure what they think of an incumbent – after four years!

The result? Once you win the party’s nomination, you can say more or less anything you want. The people who actually remember what you said won’t change their vote, unless you say something that directly and violently attacks a core belief of your base. The people who can be influenced don’t remember much and have a relatively limited knowledge of politics. Say what you want. They won’t remember.

While people may view politicians as evil, I say they are responding to the incentives given to them. If your job depended on pandering to amnesiacs, wouldn’t you keep fishing until you found something they liked?

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Written by fabiorojas

October 24, 2012 at 12:01 am

Posted in current events, fabio

2 Responses

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  1. This is a really astute observation. But I don’t think anyone actually thinks politicians are evil. I think they believe, exactly as you propose, that politics, as a social sphere, is evil and corrupting.

    I’m certain, by the way, that this sort of observation will soon justify the replacement of liberal democracy with some other political system. I think the time is coming when fascism will again seem like a plausible alternative.

    The fact that we seem to be poised to choose between letting “low information voters with no opinions” decide who our leaders are, and leaving it to our tyrants to organize power around themselves is a bit depressing. Of course, it might also be said that today our tyrants are organizing a mass of badly informed citizens with no opinions around themselves in their efforts to govern “democratically”. (Our candidates are of course merely the puppets of those tyrants on this view. I think it’s a bit quaint to think of them as people who are trying to get or keep their “jobs”.)

    Where are Tocqueville and Mencken when you need them!



    October 24, 2012 at 6:44 am

  2. Fabio, you forgot one key ingredient in your analysis: the press. The etch-a-sketch only works if the press lets you get away with it, as the American press does due to its overriding concern of appearing
    ‘balanced’. The American press has completely abdicated its responsibilities as the arbitor of competing claims. Instead the opinions-on-shape-of-earth-differ reporting style opens the door to Romnesia and outright lying without any consequences. In other Western democracies, the press sees its role as reporting the truth to the public and Etch-a-Sketchers pay a high price.



    October 24, 2012 at 8:58 pm

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