[Sometimes I run across original research, original analysis, or hard-to-get information that is exactly the kind of stuff I live for - well thought out, well written, well researched commentary, the kind that your media experts get by the pound but think is too much for you to understand. The author, like many bloggers, has a need to keep his avocation under the radar for professional reasons. As he explains below, he goes by the name Strong Medicine at the progressive political website DailyKos, where we are both active members of the community. He has given me permission to publish his comments here. Enjoy]

Why aren't we going to lose this election?

Short answer: Because the undecideds aren't looking to get "energized".

Long answer:

The process by which our side and their side get energized is the same: your candidate/surrogate says or does something that validates or agrees with your values; or, the other side's candidate/surrogate says or does something that dismisses or disagrees with your values. I emphasize values for three reasons:

    1. Voters on both sides don't necessarily decide who to vote for based on what is reasonably or objectively in their self-interest. We, more than Republicans, tend to be more honest about that; in fact, we congratulate ourselves for our altruistic and egalitarian motives (i.e. values). But when Republicans vote against their self-interest (but in accord with their values), we say they're stupid. This implies that at least a portion of the Republican base can be convinced by rational, intellectual argument to see the light and vote for our guy. It ain't gonna happen--see 3 below.

    2. We and the Republican base are so easily energized because values on both sides are deeply held. We are just as much "values voters" as the Republican base--we just have different values. That fact is masked because one of our values is supposedly tolerance, and we view ourselves as being "objective". But look at the venom in a lot of our posts. One area in which the Repubs have less hypocrisy than us is that they don't pretend to be objective.

    3. Each side decides which candidate to believe, and which candidate to believe in, based on its values. That is why the objective truth doesn't matter to the Palinistas--her words, true or not, validate their values and their identity. By aggrandizing their values in her speeches, she makes it publicly acceptable to believe what they believe, and to publicly express what they believe. She is telling them what they want to hear. Because her message is strictly value- and not fact-based, her supporters identity has become so bound up with hers that for them to admit she is a liar would be the same as admitting that their beliefs (values) are false. So you can't bring them to our side with rational argument.

To be honest, Obama probably has a similar effect on us, but because his message does not overtly appeal to dogmatic, deeply held religious values, it does not hook our identities in to his to the same extent that Palin's does her supporters.

But unlike the two base camps, the undecideds are not values voters. How do I know that, you ask? Because they are undecided. Which is why we will win this close election.

The undecideds are mostly immune to the deception, gamesmanship and jingoism in the McCain-Palin strategy and tactics because McPalin does not appeal to their core values. This allows the undecideds see the deception, gamesmanship and jingoism for what it is, and they are turned off by it. That is why I personally think it has been wise for Obama to play it cool. "Rational" appeals to the undecideds, "emotional", or worse "hysterical" (McPalin's pig lipstick reaction) turns them off. I think Obama's got the tone just about right--irritated at and dismissive of McPalin's attacks--to get the undecideds leaning our way. The undecideds do share Obama's irritation and dismissiveness of McPalin's tactics.

Another reason for my optimism is this: If McPalin haven't gotten an undecided's votes yet, it's unlikely they can get it. McPalin's growing record of deception, and their continued repetition of false statements in the face of overwhelming, incontrovertible, contrary evidence can only erode support among the vast majority of remaining undecideds, who are not known for their gullibility: virtually by definition, undecideds are cautious about believing a candidate's true statements, let alone the lies. Furthermore, Palin's extreme religious views turn off the remaining undecideds, who tend to be moderate. She's already picked up the evangelical conservative undecideds who had not supported McCain from the get-go.

Undecideds also can see McCain talking out of both sides of his mouth--he says he's going to do things completely differently than he has for the past 8 years, voting with Bush over 90% of the time. That has to tilt them towards Obama. If the undecideds liked Bush, they wouldn't be undecided. There just aren't a lot of people out there thinking, "When it becomes clear to me who will continue Bush's policies, that's who I'll vote for." Anybody who wants more Bush is already voting for McPalin.
Likewise, nobody could think Obama is going to continue Bush policies. So it's reasonable to infer, from the fact that they are undecided, that the undecideds do not agree with McCain's voting record during the Bush years and that they are more open to Obama's message of change. Pushing the Bush+McCain=asshole buddies message will help to pull most undecideds in to our camp.

If the undecideds had deeply held values they would have been hooked by one side or the other already. They aren't looking to be validated, they are looking for what we already know Obama offers--a foreseeable and honorable exit from Iraq, improvement in our country's economic condition and standing in the world, a decent job at a decent wage and with the security that "the man" isn't going to send it overseas or steal their retirement benefits, health care and a decent education for their kids, and lower taxes. I believe that if Obama does not get shrill and just keeps firmly and clearly putting his positive message out there, McPalin's static will lose it's volume. It's significantly down already with the msm.

Obama is speaking to and is being heard by the undecideds, and at this point McPalin's message, if they've got one, can't be heard through their own white noise.

We will win a fair election. Don't get mad, get vigilant!

[Slightly off-topic optimistic thought: Historically, there is no reason to believe that McPalin's bashing of Obama's "lack of experience" will significantly affect the outcome of the election. Was relative experience a significant determinative factor in Eisenhower/Stevenson? No. Kennedy/Nixon? No. Johnson/Goldwater? No. Nixon/Humphrey? No. Nixon/McGovern? No. Ford/Carter? No. Carter/Reagan? No. Reagan/Mondale? No. HW/Dukakis? No. Well, maybe (tank photo). More recently and pertinently: HW("war hero")/Clinton("draft dodger")? No. Clinton("draft dodger")/Dole("war hero")? No. W("draft dodger")/Gore(Viet Nam vet)? No. W("draft dodger")/Kerry("war hero") No. And it's clear that since 1992, the candidate with weaker "war" credentials has won, or in the case of W has been declared the winner. Which bodes well for our guy.]

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GreenLadyHere said...

Brown Man: Thanks for presenting this view [of the thought processing of Independents.] I will now watch Lou Dobbs with this perspective. [Reminder: I have been in these types of discussion of about 6 months. So I'm still learning! :>) :>)]

Good get!! :>) :>)

Brown Man said...

Glad you got something out of it - definitely something I was feeling but hadn't sat down and really thought about.

The number of truly undecided voters this time around is probably quite a bit less than the numbers actually show - this is not the same old either/or this time.

But there will always be those who have to tell you "I don't know yet", not because they are waiting on some revelation, but because they aren't interested in answering the question.

If you take into consideration the fact that the pollsters themselves admit that they have a 4 -5% margin for error
in their results, which in itself is and ESTIMATE of how far off they could be, the only real value you can safely take away from a poll is the indication of a trend - if the sample groups are large enough.

Just keep doing what you're doing - all that squawking out there about the O-Man means its working.

Janice said...

I was just watching 'Meet the Press' and they were saying McCain is leading in independents 70/30 because even though they hat McCain, the 'Bubba' vote will never vote for the Black dude

Janice said...

P.S. I hope they are wrong. Maybe we have come a lot further than it seems

Shae said...

I would think that those worried about "experience" might be equally worried -- or even moreso -- about the possibility of a previously unknown 40-something female ending up as president since McCain is knocking on heaven's door.

I can't decide if I agree with this article's logic or not, but I hope it's right.

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