Friday, January 5, 2018

Survey Results: The Medford-Ashland Senate District

Here is what a hundred of you told me.

Survey Question One: Do you live in the District?

In politics and life, the real message is the one that is unsaid.  The truth is the underlying message.  

Let me explain.  Surveys like this need to be interpreted not for what they report,  but for what they reveal.

Just over 100 people responded to my poll. 

Gaming the poll.   It was pretty obvious to me that it was "gamed" a little to goose up the votes.  One candidate clearly contacted his/her allies and directed them to the poll. I expected that.  I was curious about which candidate would game it, and how well.

I don't consider that a moral flaw in that campaign.  Indeed, I consider it a kind of political tradecraft, recognition that an early surprise lead, reported in a blog that reached an audience that skews Democratic, meant that the campaign had some political organization up and running.  It might bring early credibility to a campaign.

One candidate did.  He/she did an okay job of it, bringing in an extra fifteen or so votes.  If that campaign were really up and running it could have brought in a landslide.  It didn't.

Yes, my audience apparently skews Democratic.  My comments are harsh on the self-desctrucive behavior of Democrats, and what I consider the implicit elitism embedded in some of Democratic messaging, so I assumed I had more Republican readers than I apparently do.  About 80% of the respondents to the poll said they were Democrats.  

Maybe that is by now well deserved.  This blog attempts to advise Democrats on how they might craft messages that will defeat Republican Greg Walden, if that is possible.  Focus on his being loyal to the GOP caucus, not to two-income professional households or to Oregon's large Medicaid expansion population.  I have probably turned off Republican readers, many of whom have burrowed into a Fox-hole of hating Hillary.  

People respond to assumed character, not policies.  Democratic survey commenters generally agree with the presumed suite of policies favored by all of the four--so far--Democratic candidates.   Curious to me was how few people listed specific policy matters.  The differentiation among candidates is based on their presumed character, personality, and motives.   

People care about biography, especially age and career.   Voters want insight into who their  candidate really is, deep inside,  and they don't trust a candidate's words. Words can deceive, but life cannot be faked. They trust that a medical social worker knows about health, that a man of 32 understands young people, that a wealthy car dealer understands business and doesn't understand poor people, that a talk show host is who he seemed to be on the air. This biographical determinism may seem capricious and unfair, but the common denominator in nearly all the comments is that they are about character traits revealed most honestly by biography.

Biography and also by message tone.  This is harder to explain, but it shows up in comments i the overwhelming number of surveys that describe motive.  Motive seems impossible for a voter to infer, but that--not policy--is the common denominator of comments.  Words like "arrogant" or "self serving" or "ambitious" or "concerned" or "unconcerned" or "intense" or "dedicated" or "doesn't care" or "mean" overwhelm the descriptors of the candidates.  These relate to the inner self of the candidate.

Candidate must talk about policy, but the message the audience really wants to hear is "who is this person, really, deep inside."  The policy can get in the way of seeming like a good person, so it is not irrelevant.  But the main thing is character. 

Candidate response to the survey.  One candidate worried about the survey, concerned if he/she would be reported negatively and had the campaign contact me asking me not to blog on it; one laughed about it and said the results would be bullshit but that I should go for it;  one gamed  the survey and succeeded in narrowly winning it;  and two candidates ignored the survey.  Each response is wholly legitimate. 

Their behavior, too, gives useful insight and window for me into the inner nature of each candidate. How to respond to an easily game-able survey?  Fret? Laugh? Game it?  Like every voter, I infer from revealed behavior what kind of person the candidate really is, inside.  How do they handle problems?  What worries them?  It is not communicated credibly by words, but by what they do when not realizing they are doing it.  

Voters understand that.


Anonymous said...

News flash! A politician gamed the system! Why, that’s as unlikely as a bear pooping in the woods.
Oh wait ...

Up Close: Road to the White House said...

Yes. Exactly one of five. I had hoped all would have. It would have given me some hints on the size and readiness of their social media organizations. The number of votes each got is not reliable information. The nature of comments I received on one candidate from the candidate who gamed it is, however, useful insight to me. It tells me what the gamer campaign thinks is the weakness of the criticized candidate. I see an attack meme shaping up. The nature of the caracaturing/mocking of that candidate in the comments was a surprise to me; it was not the direction that I thought would be the weakness of that candidate. I will see if that emerges when the paid ads started.

My sense is that the best forewarning about the upcoming campaign came from the candidate who stuffed the ballot box. That person tipped his/her hand.

A survey of this kind needs to be evaluated for what it suggests. Not what it says.