Thursday, January 10, 2008

It's A Popularity Contest

"Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half." ~ Gore Vidal

I probably wasn't the first person to point this out, but I am the first person I know of to point this out.

Now, many others, both professional and non-professional, have agreed.

I called it. I said Hillary's (almost) crying was a blatant attempt to win votes from the Liberal Democrats, because Liberals feel instead of think. And it worked. Just as I knew it would.

Liberals are so predictable!

Hillary's show of emotion won her Blue Hampshire. She played the whiny bleeding heart sob sister Liberals like a Stradivarius, and they bought it, hook, line, and sinker.

Dan asks me why I have such a low opinion of the rank-and-file average Americans intelligence....well, that's why.

I will say it again. The average American doesn't pay close enough attention to politics to be able to make an informed decision. That's why the Democrats win elections. They only vote (if they vote at all) for the candidate they hear the most about, and the media makes sure the people mostly hear about the candidates that the media wants to win. And the media usually overwhelmingly support Democrats.

But Democrats aren't the only victims of this media manipulation.

Republicans can sometimes be just as gullible, and for the same reason. Whatever candidate the media talks the most about is the candidate that Republicans end up supporting. Example?

There is Conservative media. Rush, Hannity, Ingraham, Hewitt, Savage, and many others. Rush refuses to endorse any one candidate, and technically, so does Hannity (or so he says). Mark Levin has remained pretty much silent on which candidate he favors but he has mentioned on many occasions that he likes Duncan Hunter (as I do).

But if one listens to Hannity even once in a while, it becomes blatantly evident he is a Rudy Guiliani supporter. I really don't know who the others support, but Hannity is the second most listened to talk radio host in the country so his influence cannot be denied.

Guiliani has a lot of support from self-described "Reagan Conservatives", yet he bears little resemblance to Reagan. In fact, he may very well be the most Liberal of all the Republican candidates (not including Ron Paul, of course, but he's not really a Republican anyway). So why do they support Rudy so vigorously?

I may be way off base here, but I believe it has to do with the exposure he gets from Conservative pundits like Hannity. Especially Hannity. Does Hannity show such enthusiasm for Duncan Hunter?

No.

Why not?

Watch this:



Hunter is the most Reaganesque candidate in this election field. Hannity claims to be a Reagan Conservative. Hannity even claims he likes Hunter. In fact, all the Conservative talk show hosts say the same thing. I have never heard a negative word about Hunter from any of them. So why will they not support him instead of Liberal Rudy Guiliani?

I don't know.

But it makes my point. The average American voter will not do the homework necessary to find out which candidate best exemplifies their own politically ideology. They rely on media hype to make those decisions for them.

Republican or Democrat.

You want to become President? All you have to do is get your name out there in the media, and have them (as Ann puts it) talk you up. If you can get them to mention your name more than anyone else's, you will have the election sewn up.

Good luck.

22 comments:

Neil said...

Re. Hillary's crying: One of my employees is a Certified Fraud Examiner and takes some interesting classes. He had this to say:

"I was watching the Hillary Clinton crying incident on the news last night.

While on vacation I was reading a book on body language and detecting lies and deceit.

If a person looks down and to the right (as you face the subject) indicates that the subject is creating a physical feeling not experiencing a remembered feeling.

Throughout this entire segment, she was looking down and to the right. This is a tell tale sign that the feeling was a created experience (or better known as a lie) not a real emotion."

Pamela Reece said...

Mark, I find these observations very interesting. Even though I am a self-described conservative republican, still I did not detect this reaction as intentional. It may have been a reaction to her not being able to answer off-the-cuff, but can human-beings collectively control this reaction of self-pity? I'm not so sure.

BB-Idaho said...

Following up on Neil's comment, I sorted through the 584,000 google refs for 'body language lying'.
Can only conclude that each candidate be wired to a lie detector for the duration. Bet we'd see a lot of redlining!! Regarding the assumption that the media makes the winner, how do you explain Huckabee coming from nowhere in Iowa? Or the intense loyalty of the Ronulites? Those of my acquaintances marching lockstep with media are the Rush
listeners, who prefer to let Mr. L do their thinking. Another odditiy which I find confusing are the FredHeads, extremely loyal bloggers, but he seems to fare poorly (so far) in the voting booth. I suspect the press may be correct, however in that the average voter is sick of the widening partisan divide...and we see candidates moving to get in front of the 'desire for change'.
Well Mr. A's idea of change may be the opposited of Mr. B's idea of change. Only one thing for certain: this is an extraordinary campaign with a lot of runners and no real clear leader yet.

Trader Rick said...

Duncan Hunter is the only REAL conservative putting himself out there. Why nobody talked him up or took him seriously is a mystery--except that the republicans and moderate wimpy conservatives can't handle the truth...

Dan Trabue said...

So, there it is. At least Mark and Rick think the electorate a bunch of spineless, brainless wimps – Dems AND Republicans.

Keep telling them that. Perhaps you’ll win them over.

Mark said...

I didnt say that at all, Dan. I said the Average rank-and -file American votes based on what candidate the media hypes most. I'm talking about the uninformed, uneducated Democrat and Republican.

I know you know this. You are capable of even passive observation, in spite of your protestations of ignorance.

The average uninformed Democrats vote for the Democratic candidate MSNBC, CBS, CNN, ABC, NBC, and other Liberally biased news sources talk about most, because those are the news sources they listen to.

Average uninformed Republicans vote for the Republican candidates who's names are most frequently mentioned in other, more fairly represented news sources like FOX News, Washington Times, New York Post etc. because those are the news sources they most frequently pay passive attention to.

Independents are swayed not by core ideology for the most part but by how often they hear certain candidates names in the news. Most know little about what the various candidates stand for, and often will vote for a candidate because they like his looks or how friendly he appears, etc.

Impressions are deceiving, which is what good politicians understand and yes, exploit.

Marshall Art said...

I haven't heard much at all regarding Hunter recently. Is he even still in it? I know he wasn't invited to the last debate. But I like him. I think Fred's a real close second and his website is thick with info, which I've begun to read. I think the two of them would be a great ticket, perhaps with Fred and his celebrity as the lead and Duncan the VP, but either way is fine with me.

But as you say, the media, including the radio talk show people I like, are not focussing on who's most conservative, or most like Reagan or anything like that. They just seem to think in terms of "who's electable". Wouldn't that be the person with the most votes? If the word about a candidates record, along with his platform, is articulated accurately to the general population, it should be easy to see even Pat Paulson's corpse win the election, if his platform align's with true conservative philosophy.

Instead, what we hear is how a candidates placement in Iowa will impact his chances in New Hampshire. Why should it? Don't the people of New Hampshire have their own opinions? Or is the electorate as useless as Mark implies? I don't care how Hunter or Thompson fared in other states. My job is to pick the candidate I think will do the best job or believes what I believe. If conservatives really believe in conservatism, they'll pick one of these two guys.

Dan Trabue said...

If conservatives really believe in conservatism, they'll pick one of these two guys.

Perhaps the Republican Party - and the nation as a whole - is not as conservative as one might think?

Or, as Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a liberal bias...", perhaps?

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...


I may be way off base here, but I believe it has to do with the exposure he gets from Conservative pundits like Hannity.


No, I don't think so at all. Do we see an overwhelming conservative base support of Giuliani, thus far in the primaries? We'll see, come Florida.

I said the Average rank-and -file American votes based on what candidate the media hypes most. I'm talking about the uninformed, uneducated Democrat and Republican.

But how does this explain Rudy's support amongst your blog-friends who are political news junkies? Who look to alternative AND mainstream media?

They just seem to think in terms of "who's electable".

Period! Dot! Bingo!, as Laura Ingraham would say.

Wouldn't that be the person with the most votes? If the word about a candidates record, along with his platform, is articulated accurately to the general population, it should be easy to see even Pat Paulson's corpse win the election, if his platform align's with true conservative philosophy.

You are forgetting that the country is rather evenly divided between conservatives and liberals, with independents and moderates who will probably decide the election.

And I find it odd that you and Mark seem to think there's a talk show and media consensus. Laura Ingraham certainly isn't a Giuliani supporter. I listen to her try and derail Giuliani's candidacy every morning. Hewitt's Rah-rah Romney; Medved's a McCain backer. There is no consensus.

I'll tell what guys like Medved and Hewitt understand though: It is no moral victory, to "stand on principle", and elect in the primary your dream-conservative candidate, if you know that your candidate stands a good chance of losing in the general election. You have to look ahead to the general election and weigh into consideration who best represents you, who can also win. A conservative's conservative is not enough. And you have to take into consideration who the opposition is fielding.

Right now, the mood of the country is one of change- of something different. Obama represents that "newness" factor. Will the novelty wear off by November, and his lack of experience show through? I don't know. But he is very charismatic, very eloquent, and is riding a tidal wave of positive energy and press. Young voters are excited. Actually, not just the youthful voters, but a lot of people around here are excited about Obama. I think the nation is Bush-fatigued and Partisanship-fatigued. They are also weary of "Bush-Clinton-Bush-....and don't want another Clinton". I think her time may have passed. She has too much baggage and history, at this moment. The timing is wrong. She may still be the nominee, but she is being very seriously challenged. Obama represents the exuberance of youth, and Hillary is part of the "old establishment" of baby boomers and Washington insiders.

Now, Obama's been a media darling since the 2004 DNC. His name was a buzzword on everyone's lips ever since. He and Hillary have name recognition. McCain and Giuliani have name recognition. I'm talking about people outside of politics, who are headline readers and casual news observers, more into pop culture and reading People magazine and watch latenite tv.

Until these guys started campaigning, who really has heard of "Duncan Hunter"? "Mitt Romney"? "Mike Huckabee"?

Even now, with all the primary coverage, I guarantee you, there are casual voters out there, who will come to the voting booths in November, but who aren't following the day-to-day play-by-plays, and can't name more than 3 or 4 names from either Party.

You cannot underestimate the power of charisma, charm, and the superficial. Huckabee going on Leno and bringing himself into the homes of millions of Americans to play the bass and have a Clinton-sax moment, can influence voters even more effectively than Romney on substance.

The most illiterate numbskull high school dropout can "cancel" the vote of the most savvy political analyst and intellectual. And these numbskulls do turnout to vote. Most don't, but vast numbers do. Which is why politics requires simple messages and bumpersticker slogans.

As Hugh Hewitt writes in his 2004 book, Politics often comes down to slogans and pictures and music because candidates need to communicate with broad ranges of people, some of whom don't have the mental equipment to deal with policy papers.
The mandatory simplicity of a lot of politics puts off some people.
They want to talk big ideas and they scorn simple speech.
A lot of intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals fall into the trap of ignoring the need to communicate with every possible voter."


Anyway, I hope you understand why electability matters. And why party purists can sometimes ruin elections when they defect to third parties, or sit out an election because they did not "get their way". If Giuliani is the nominee and one-issue pro-lifers don't come to bat for the GOP pick, they are, in a real sense, helping the other side to win; thereby enabling a Democrat with whom they agree with 10-20% of the time to gain the presidency over a Republican candidate with whom they do agree with, 60-70% of the time.

Mark said...

Smithy, that's a lot to respond to. I understand your point and you are probably right for the most part.

I can't help but wonder, though, where Hunter would stand if he had the backing of those major Conservative talk show hosts from the beginning. Would he not be considered electable by now? Was Reagan considered electable? How are they different in ideology?

I agree that we must look to the candidate that is most likely to defeat the other party's nominee, but this is the primaries, not the general election. Who determines who is most electable anyway? Is it not the media, ultimately? Aren't they where we get the information that we utilize to determine who is our pick?

Here's an novel concept: Back the candidate that most closely identifies with your own ideology until the nominee is chosen. Perhaps if we did, the ultimate nominee would be the candidate we back.

That's what I do. I support the candidate whose ideology most closely agrees with my own, and if he wins the nomination, fine. But if he doesn't I vote for my party's nominee, even if I have to hold my nose to do so.

The key here is not to be a sore loser. If your preferred candidate doesn't win the nomination, don't go overboard and refuse to vote for the candidate that won, or refuse to vote at all, or, God forbid, vote for the other party's nominee. That's what concerns you, and me, too.

Vote for your party's nominee. If preventing the other candidate from winning is the goal, that would do the trick. If it's the sole goal from the beginning, God help us.

But it's frustrating, I know. I hate to go to the polls and be forced to vote for the lesser of two evils. But that's what we usually do. The only exception to the rule is Reagan. He was the best choice at the time, and he happened to be the nominee, too. That is extremely unusual.

Nonetheless, I still believe if the media had "talked him up", Hunter would be the front runner today.
Unfortunately, all we get from them is "I like Hunter, but...."

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

I can't help but wonder, though, where Hunter would stand if he had the backing of those major Conservative talk show hosts from the beginning. Would he not be considered electable by now?

No. Because we all LIKE Duncan Hunter for all the reasons YOU like Duncan Hunter.

Here's an novel concept: Back the candidate that most closely identifies with your own ideology until the nominee is chosen. Perhaps if we did, the ultimate nominee would be the candidate we back.

Mark, it's hardly a novel concept, and many voters do as you suggest. "Standing on principle"- can lose you elections. And losing is worse than winning.

When people say, "I vote for the individual, not for Party", I just don't get it. In a general election, it is critical that you vote a straight Republican ticket. In most cases, even the RINO incumbents in office. The Party who commands the majority in Congress, is the Party who legislates.

That's what I do. I support the candidate whose ideology most closely agrees with my own, and if he wins the nomination, fine. But if he doesn't I vote for my party's nominee, even if I have to hold my nose to do so.

Mark, there's nothing wrong with doing that. I just suggest you take a second look and ask yourself if the candidate who most closely reflects your ideology is also the one who is best capable of winning the Presidency. If he is not, a primary victory is meaningless if he's all but guaranteed to lose in the general.

The key here is not to be a sore loser. If your preferred candidate doesn't win the nomination, don't go overboard and refuse to vote for the candidate that won, or refuse to vote at all, or, God forbid, vote for the other party's nominee. That's what concerns you, and me, too.

Exactly! Party purists can ruin movements when conservatives don't fit the bill on being "conservative enough" for them. So these are the angry-as-hell-conservative "I'm-not-going-to-take-it-anymore" voters who don't get their way, so they sit at home on election day, or have defected to a meaningless 3rd Party. They'd rather see an impure conservative Republican candidate lose than adulterate the GOP.

Vote for your party's nominee. If preventing the other candidate from winning is the goal, that would do the trick. If it's the sole goal from the beginning, God help us.

We won't need God's help, if we are "smart voters", and weigh into account the issue of electability. Yes, you don't want to simply elect a candidate that is so "watered down" of conservatism, that he is indistinguishable from the opposition candidate; but neither do you want to put forth the most conservative candidate who stands no chance of winning for lack of the "wow" factor. Remember: Not everyone in the country thinks as you do.

But it's frustrating, I know. I hate to go to the polls and be forced to vote for the lesser of two evils.

You can sometimes look at it as "voting for the greater of two goods". That's the way I see it in the primaries, mostly, at least, if not also the general.

The world will not come to an end. Trabue's America survived Bush, Mike's America survived Clinton.

But that's what we usually do. The only exception to the rule is Reagan. He was the best choice at the time, and he happened to be the nominee, too. That is extremely unusual.

He was the nominee, because we also recognized that he had the "Obama factor", dare I say. He had the charisma and leadership charm to woo voters over from the middle and left-of-center. For party purists, Reagan wasn't even conservative enough for them.

Gayle said...

Interesting post, Mark, and I agree that many conservatives are backing who they feel is the most electable, regardless of some liberal views they hold. It's maddening!

I'm backing Fred Thompson, and will see him through, regardless of his electability or lack thereof. I want a conservative in the Oval Office.

Mike's America said...

I disagree about Hunter being the most "Reaganesque" of all the GOP candidates. I've met most of them, including Hunter, here in the past year. Rudy was by far the most electric, humor-filled and optimistic candidate, which are qualities I recall from my days watching Reagan up close and personal.

But you hit it right on the head here: ". She played the whiny bleeding heart sob sister Liberals like a Stradivarius, and they bought it, hook, line, and sinker."

Not only the teary-eyed weepy moment, but the guy who just happened to find a place in the front of her campaign rally (typically seats reserved for volunteers and special guests) who held up a sign and shouted "IRON MY SHIRT."

Funny how that guy just disappeared afterwards. Most of these loons are only too happy to give interviews to the press.

And of course it worked, as you will see if you read any of the comment threads from this incident.

Women outraged by this act, or by any questioning of the motives when Hillary teared up were also pretty quick to swallow the line from Bill Clinton "I did not have sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky."

Of course these same women are conviced BUSH LIED, even though they don't know what he lied about and could care less.

Anyway, I see your whiny, appeasing, neosocialist defeatist Dan "Death Threats" Trabue is here to offer his usal obfuscation, doublespeak and further enabling of lying, crying sacks of shit.

Good thing Wordsmith is here to offer perpsective. If he wasn't, I would have made him dance!

Mark said...

Mike, you said, "I disagree about Hunter being the most "Reaganesque" of all the GOP candidates. I've met most of them, including Hunter, here in the past year. Rudy was by far the most electric, humor-filled and optimistic candidate, which are qualities I recall from my days watching Reagan up close and personal."

Are you kidding me? Reagan was pro-abortion, anti-2nd amendment, pro-gay marriage, like Rudy?

Rudy is strong on National security and so was Reagan. But so is Hunter. Rudy is strong on fighting terrorism and so was Reagan. But so is Hunter.

In what way is Hunter not Reaganesque? I'll answer that for you. Hunter will not support amnesty for illegal aliens. That is the only way the the two are different.

As far as I know, the only knock against Reagan was his offering amnesty for illegals.

On the other hand, that is one way Rudy is like Reagan. Not exactly a shining endorsement of Rudy, is it?

And since when has being "electric, humor-filled and optimistic" a necessary qualification for being a good President?

Rudy is a great politician, but like all great politicians, he says what the electorate wants to hear, not necessarily what he really believes.

At least with Hunter, what you see is what you get. And the same can be said of Thompson, for that matter. We also knew what to expect from Reagan.

With Rudy, you have no idea what you will get.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Are you kidding me? Reagan was pro-abortion, anti-2nd amendment, pro-gay marriage, like Rudy?

That's not what Mike said, Mark. He pointed out the qualities that ARE Reaganesque in Rudy; not ones that aren't.

And you are mischaracterizing Rudy's positioning on those issues. It's like the ones who are for comprehensive immigration reform, and get dismissed outrightly as "pro-amnesty".

And since when has being "electric, humor-filled and optimistic" a necessary qualification for being a good President?

Because those are traits that do get votes.

Look at Romney and Huckabee. Romney's outspent Huckabee by about 20 to 1; and has very little traction to show for it. I think Romney is having a hard time connecting to voters; whereas Huckabee comes across as more "likable" and "less fabricated" than Romney. I'm only talking appearances and perception, here.

George Bush also had that same likability factor in 2000. As liberals often like to point out, Chris Matthews says he's like the guy you can sit down and have a beer with.

It's why Obama's got a real shot at winning the presidency, even if he has a short resume on experience qualifications. He is charismatic, and projects a persona that people like.


Rudy is a great politician, but like all great politicians, he says what the electorate wants to hear, not necessarily what he really believes.


How can you make that claim? Rudy's been rather transparent. He's made no secret about his belief that he personally feels that a woman has the right to choose. He hasn't flip-flopped. What he has done, is stated that he promises to elect strict constructionists in the vein of a Justice Roberts and Alito. The issue should be dealt with at the state level, not federal. I believe him. And even if he doesn't appoint such justices, simply because you have a pro-life president in office is no guarantee that those who appear to be conservative justices will, in fact, be so.


Good thing Wordsmith is here to offer perpsective. If he wasn't, I would have made him dance!

You do that anyway, Mike.

Trader Rick said...

republicans don't want to hear the truth. These liberals in the debates fall all over themselves making absurd personal comparisons to Reagan. They can't handle the truth--the republican party is not conservative--Ron Paul is the only old-line Goldwater conservative in the debates. The fact that he is a mega-isolationist and generally laughably goofy as all get-out obscures his true roots...

Mark said...

Since the title of this post is, "It's a popularity contest", it's gratifying to see Wordsmith and Mike prove my point. Both admit the reason Rudy has support from "Reagan Conservatives" when he's obviously not a Reagan Conservative himself is because he's charming, witty, and personable. Apparently it doesn't matter what he stands for. Using that criteria, if Rudy were a card carrying Communist, but was personable, Reagan Conservatives would still support him.

Just think! If Ron Paul were the same way, they would back him!

Thanks for proving my point, fellas.

Mike's America said...

Mark: I define the term "Reaganesque" as the quality of leadership. Not necessarily the stand Rudy takes on any particular issue.

You may have read my post on Duncan Hunter. I went into detail on the positions he outlined in the luncheon I attended.

But he lacked that "Reaganesque" quality of leadership that could get the job done.

I suppose that's why he's not doing better in this campaign.

I understand you are frustrated with his campaign's failure to catch on. I'm frustrated that I support Rudy and he has now pulled his campaign out of South Carolina.

That is why I encourage my SC Rudy friends to VOTE FOR FRED INSTEAD!

P.S. "Rudy ... says what the electorate wants to hear, not necessarily what he really believes."

That's absurd Mark... You obviously did not read his speech to the values voter's summit. And he was pretty up front in the speech he gave here about being honest with the voters on our differences.

You're starting to make me miss ole "Death Threats" Dan the Trabue!

Marshall Art said...

"Because those are traits that do get votes."

And that is the lamentation Mark initially made regarding the electorate. It too closely resembles product ads and marketing in that if the people are told they'd be hip to buy something, many will take the bait. It's how fads start and change. This is a problem with elections. You don't get the best leader, you get someone better able to win because of superficial crap.

But if those same media people speak only on the issues, like they want the candidates to do, that would go a long way toward better educating the general public. (At least those who care) I don't want to hear about who's leading in the polls, or who won a debate or who placed better in another state's primary and have that info presented as if it matters to my vote. Not because it affects me, but because I know it affects others, and it shouldn't.

As far a the nation being "evenly" split between libs and cons, the reason that might be is also tied to the above. But when people understand conservative principles and realize what it means to them personally, they tend to lean right more than left. This was borne out in 2006, with so many winning Dems being of the more conservative variety or talking as if they were.

For Mike,

"Mark: I define the term "Reaganesque" as the quality of leadership."

I think you could be unique in your definition. I don't think most conservatives define the term that way.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Both admit the reason Rudy has support from "Reagan Conservatives" when he's obviously not a Reagan Conservative himself is because he's charming, witty, and personable. Apparently it doesn't matter what he stands for. Using that criteria, if Rudy were a card carrying Communist, but was personable, Reagan Conservatives would still support him.

Mark, I'd say you are spinning my response, and don't really understand where I am coming from.

I'm done paraphrasing myself, to rehash ground already covered.

Here's a thought:

"Suppose someone seeking the presidential nomination had, as a governor, signed the largest tax increase in his state's history and the nation's most permissive abortion law. And by signing a law institutionalizing no-fault divorce, he had unwittingly but substantially advanced an idea central to the campaign for same-sex marriages -- the minimalist understanding of marriage as merely a contract between consenting adults to be entered into or dissolved as it suits their happiness. "Question: Is it not likely that such a presidential aspirant would be derided by some of today's fastidious conservatives? A sobering thought, that, because the attributes just described were those of Ronald Reagan."
-George Will

BB-Idaho said...

The rest of George Will's analysis can be found here: http://pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/opinion/columnists/will/s_496638.html

ELAshley said...

Iowa - 3% minority .... Obama wins

New Hampshire - 10% voters registered on voting day; no residency requirements ..... Hillary wins

Racism or voter fraud ?

I've read several reports of local New Hampshire residents seeing, on the day of the Primary, far too many vehicles sporting Massachusetts plates for "Winter Tourism" to account for. It'll be poo-poohed by everyone on the Left, but there are plenty of people in New Hampshire who're wondering...

What's the old Democrat laugh-line?

"Vote Early, Vote Often"?

Voter Fraud, traditionally, is a Democrat phenomenon.