Monday, September 24, 2012

Immutable Voters


I've lamented here that voters can be illogically fixed. I think of 2012 elections for example, including the POTUS and our Warren/Brown Senate contests. I fully expect at least 40% to vote for what I consider definitely the wrong candidate; how can these races be at all close, I wonder?

No reasoning is revealed, but a solid piece in yesterday's Boston Globe, Wait, campaigns don't work?, does concur with my exasperated question. Citing proven political prognosticators, it reads that at least 80% of voters have fixed minds and hearts. All the campaigning possible in the time available won't alter their preset preferences. Ads, debates, conventions and such only reinforce their starting positions.

Instead, a very few factors, such as second quarter GDP and incumbent popularity in June, make the difference. The pros allegedly can use their formulae to pick the vote early and within 2%.

It's a little amusing to find such a clear, believable piece in the Globe. After all, more typical of its research articles is the weekly Uncommon Knowledge feature. It features short recaps of trendy, even sensationalist, findings largely by academicians. These are pop brights about your love life or how beer glass shape may affect your drinking rate or how coffee or red wine is good for you, no bad. Ho hum. These ephemera are often trivial and frequently destined to be refuted by future lightweight studies...and soon.

Lackaday. We can listen to the ghost of H.L. Mencken, who wrote, "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public." As much as we'd like to have faith that our electorate will generally get it right, we likely are deluding ourselves with such optimism.

Let us wonder now in the first major election after the Citizens United decision whether the sliver of perhaps 10% of the persuadable voters will fall and be fooled. This is the first go with SuperPACs weaving their distorted, dishonest and secretly financed lies in ad and advocacy forms.

It's quite possible that the hundreds of millions or several billion dollars spent won't determine the outcome of the POTUS race or control of either house of Congress. If nearly all voters were decided long before the campaigns really started, can those filthy bucks make the difference?

It's just as possible that the success in the disgraceful, un-American, anti-democracy efforts at voter disenfranchisement will make that difference. That is, in the many states where Republicans are actively trying to keep left-leaning voters from being able to cast ballots, if they fail, the democratic process perks along, quite likely favoring Democrats. If they succeed, historians will immediately start documenting the shame of it all.

Think too if the SuperPAC and winger billionaire money fails to tip the election, even with the shield of Citizens United. We're years away from overturning that though a Constitutional amendment. We can be positive that in the meanwhile the Dark Side would not slink away, admitting failure and discarding this weapon. Instead, they'd strategize how to make it work. Being called as anti-liberty and anti-democratic process won't deter them.

It's long been plain that we have many low-information voters. If the Globe piece is right, they have no intention of getting smart or risking having to think.

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