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The Most Important Voter Demographic

For politicians, election campaigns regardless of the country or the political entity are not about issues; they are about winning and that requires strategy. Strategy requires strategists and strategists divide the electorate up into target groups.

Much is made about those groups being defined demographically and subdivided by race, age, gender, hair colour and favourite Justin Beiber song but the key strategists, the inside, backroom boys and girls have this down to a science and only concern themselves with five demographic groups.

They are:

  • Those who support us on the issues
  • Those who don’t support us on the issues
  • Independents
  • Those who don’t vote
  • Those who are so blindly partisan that they are too lazy or too stupid to think and “we don’t have to worry about them ‘cause they will vote for or against us no matter what we do or say”.

I know some of you are thinking I’m wrong, especially abut that last group but you will find an increasing number of folks in that last demographic on both sides of the political spectrum. It is the single fastest growing target demographic in modern election campaign strategy. It is growing faster than the people who don’t vote demographic.

In fact, some strategists have reduced their demographic targets down to just two groups; those who think and those who don’t. Guess which one is growing.

Perhaps this video will help address that question; and before Obama supporters get their knickers in a twist, this isn’t about crticizing President Obama or his supporters specifically. While it is a series of interviews with supporters of the Democratic ticket, you will find people just like these supporting the conservative agenda as well.

These people have more in common with guests on the Jerry Springer or Maury Povitch shows than they do with informed, responsible citizens.

When asked, in the video, about specific issues, they are clear that the issues are unconstitutional even immoral, illegal or just the wrong direction for the country. They’re clear in their own minds that these are policies they could not support. When, however, it is pointed out to them that they were misled and the issues they oppose were actually implemented by the candidate they support, well, that changes everything.

They have so much thoughtless self-concept invested in their support of a candidate that they look for ways to rationalize the contradictions to their principles rather than reconsider their choice. Most in the video are clear that the issues which were raised are flat out wrong and that they could not support a candidate who promoted them until it is revealed that it is the candidate they were supporting who has already implemented them.

At that point, the rationalizations begin. Now, instead of the candidate who wanted to implement the NDAA being a psychopath, clinging to their original choice is rationalized by telling themselves that he is right about more issues than those he gets wrong. Some rationalize their choice by trying to convince themselves that he is the lesser of two evils and it is the other guy who  is more dangerous.

But considering how little thought went into their choice, one wonders how much thought went into deciding who to oppose.

What it comes down to is that the clueless would rather change or compromise their principles and values than change their choice in the election. Others are one-issue voters who will vote for a candidate because he/she promotes a single issue they like or want. Where that candidate stands on all of the other issues is irrelevant to them. In many cases, they will compromise their values on other issues to get what they want on the one issue.

Campaign strategists just love these people. They are the sheep upon whose support the campaign can count even if ‘their’ guy (or she) is caught in bed with a gnome, two goats and Jerry Springer or Maury Povitch.

Democracy is a fragile but priceless to a free society. It is, under certain circumstances, even worth defending with your life and many have. People who put so little thought into how they will vote demean that sacrifice and undermine the very principles on which the democratic process is founded.

It is blind ideology at best and mindless personality cult at worst.

Opposing tax increases and supporting the candidate who is promising to cut taxes is one thing but clinging to your choice even when you discover that he/she actually intends to raise taxes is something else all together. It is voting against yourself and what you thought you believed.

Some, less polite than I am, might call it sheer stupidity because it is –well – sheer stupidity on a level that is staggering.

I consider thoughtless voting dangerous because it undermines our ability as a nation to elect informed, committed and honest politicians. It polarizes and distorts what should be a time of reflection, an opportunity to examine the incumbent’s record and the platform of the challenger and contributes to turning the entire process into one big pointless circus.

It gives political strategists free reign to hijack our democratic right to making an informed choice, whatever that choice may be.

I have voted in elections for forty years and I have watched the deterioration of participation not only in terms of numbers of voters but in terms of the actual thinking that goes into selecting for whom people will vote.

Personally, I don’t care for whom someone does vote, even if it is not the candidate I support. Democracy is about freedom of choice and I respect that. I have friends and family who might vote the way I do in a particular election and another way in the next. We don’t go to war over it.

We each get to make that choice for ourselves and that is, after all, what democracy is about.

My issue is whether or not people take the time to review the campaign platforms of the candidates before making their choice. In other words – that they stop and actually think about the issues and base their choice on something more substantial than the fact that they like the way he smiles.

Voting is not simply a right. It is a responsibility and the major part of that responsibility is thinking. Thoughtless voting is pointless.

Voting isn’t like shopping for shoes. In fact some put more thought into selecting a new pair of shoes than they do how they will vote. It isn’t enough to simply show up on election day, it requires thinking to show the privilege of voting the respect it deserves.

The people who are most dangerous to a successful election are the ones who knew for whom they would vote before the candidates first opened their mouths with their first election promise or attack spin against the other candidate. In some cases, those people knew how they would cast their ballot before the candidate was even nominated.

Those are the people who are so willfully blind; they would cast their ballot for a dead pig if it was nominated to lead the party. They would vote twice if they could. Voting for them is easy. There is no need to think, no need to research, no need to even have principles of their own against which to measure those of the candidates.

They vote for or against something based on everything from race to ideology. The issues, the record, the promises are all irrelevant.

These are people who think, for the most part, in 30 second sound bites and 140 character messages. It is all they can absorb and information is irrelevant. They are the people who suffer from confirmation bias and only seek out information that supports their choice and personal bias. Anything which contradicts it is rejected or even attacked as lies. They cling to their choice like a fat kid clinging to a Snickers bar.

Most don’t even have to be literate. All they need to be able to do is make an X and even the most stupid among us can usually muster up enough IQ to handle that.

The next time you decide to blame the previous administration for the ills of the nation, stop for a moment and consider all the people who vote without thinking.

They are the ones who, whether they realize it or not, set us up for failure. They are the ones that strategists count on to win a mandate. Thoughtful voters are a more difficult proposition. It is the willfully blind and the clueless who make it possible for those with divisive, inefficient and dangerous  programs to win a mandate and the strategists not only are aware of that point, they absolutely depend on it.

 

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