Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Click on the Survey

This blog wants to know what you think and feel about the election for State Senate, District 3.  In plain English that is the seat that includes nearly all of Medford, plus everything south.  That means Phoenix, Talent, Ashland, Jacksonville, and Ruch.  

This blog promotes a point of view that is both 1. out of fashion and 2. un-intuitive.  

I am un-fashionable.  Political science punditry and operations are increasingly working on the assumption that your vote is pretty much locked in before any campaigning.  Democrats vote for Democrats, Republicans for Republicans, and "nonaffiliated" split alongside the ratio of the parties.  The presumption is that hardly anyone is persuadable.  

Therefore, it is all just voter registration and turnout. Forget campaign themes, slogans, speeches, ideas. This is all just noise that cancels itself out.  The voter registration data determines what is possible, and turnout seals the election.  At the national level there is some fine tuning.  The "economy, stupid" adds or subtracts a fews points.

People with rigorous mathematics and statistical skills show data sets on spreadsheets.  It frightens the un-mathematical.  It looks like science, not art.

I disagree.  I think that campaign themes matter because I have watched it matter, up close. I see that voters are real human beings, not calculators.  We do not in fact vote as predicted.  Many cast their votes based on precious little information and gut feelings.  

We don't think and judge. We feel.  

Powerful communication.
I attended my first Trump event in September of 2015, when Trump was considered a vanity joke candidate.  I approached the event and saw that the Rochester, NH High School Marching Band was just outside the venue, and the big base drums were pounding as they played march music.  How different from the Hillary event earlier that day, where she listened patiently to people in recovery from opium addiction.  Rationally, Hillary might have been seen as "serious" and Trump as a "mere showman" but in the moment, comparing the two events, it was clear to me that both candidates were doing a performance, both were creating impressions in their audiences. 

There was a wordless message: Trump communicated power and action.  Hillary was communicating the tedious hopelessness of real change. 

Un-intuitive. My theory took clearer form as the campaign progressed: impressions matter, tone matters, and the important communication takes place below the surface of words, without our knowing it.  People can introspect and convince ourselves we are making decisions with judgement and rationality--that is why it is unintuitive--but the big driving force is the human gut feeling.  Trump's high school marching band, with a row of 8 young men pounding on the base drums, communicated deeply--wordlessly--to the audience and prepped it for the Trump performance we saw, a man of resolve and power.  

So this blog does not search for hard numbers.  It searches for gut feelings, impressions and mood, and therefore asks readers to click on the survey. 

Most useful will be the comments. Is Alan DeBoer a wise philanthropist? It he a weak conflict avoider? Is he a sneaky car dealer?  Is Kevin Stine a breath of fresh air, or too ambitious, too soon?  Is Jeff Golden well experienced, or old news?  Is Jeff's tone one of concerned empathy, or is that hippy-dippy?  Is it good or bad that Athena Goldberg is new on the political scene?  

You tell me.

1 comment:

Rick Millward said...

High School marching bands are derived from the "fife and drums" that accompanied soldiers to slaughter on the battlefield. You couldn't ask for a more Regressive symbol.

The phrase " tedious hopelessness of real change" jumped out at me. Perhaps the most important poll we should watch is the "direction of country" metric. There is a Buddhist saying along the lines of "it's not how fast you go, it's more important that you never stop". Most, including myself, were content with the Obama administration's slow progress, despite Republican obstruction, because it was felt the country was heading in the right direction. Clinton's election would have continued that progress, and that was unacceptable to Regressives. They chose to blow up the country and introduce chaos rather than be out of power for another eight years, and so embraced Trump's cult. No one expected they would sink so low, and it has been a wake up call for Progressives.