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?