Blackadder’s Lair

The home of many a cunning plan

Obama/Palin 08

Elections, it is often said, should be about issues, not personalities, and there is a lot to be said for this view. The only problem (or, rather, the main problem) is that, regardless of what people might say, in practice who people decide to vote for is often based on anything but their stance on the issues.

Exhibit A. During a recent broadcast, Howard Stern sent a “reporter” to Harlem to ask Obama supporters whether they agreed with his views on the issues. Except that, instead of giving Obama’s real views on the issues, the reporter substituted in the views of McCain, even asking Obama supporters whether they would be comfortable with Palin as Vice President should Obama be elected. The result: when associated with Obama, McCain’s views suddenly become a lot more popular among Democratic leaning voters.

The clip is focused on blacks voting for Obama because he is black. But the effect is hardly limited to that case. During the primaries, for example, John Edwards attracted the disproportionate support of more conservative Democrats, particularly blue collar white males, despite the fact that he was the most left-leaning of the three major candidates. And on the Republican side, McCain won the majority of votes from Republican against the Iraq War (more, even, than Ron Paul) despite being the its most vigorous proponent. According to an old saying, if people knew what went into the making of laws, they would lose all faith in government. I often wonder if the same might be true of voting. If we really knew why people voted the way that they did, would people still retain their faith in Democracy?

(HT: Bryan Caplan)


October 14, 2008 - Posted by | Election

1 Comment »

  1. This goes to show you that we could run an election, Canadian style. Back at the beginning of September the prime minister decided to call an election and 6 weeks later its done. How long has US electoral politics been going on now? 2 years? Seems never-ending. But wait…people won’t have time to get to know the candidates and delve into the issues. Howard Stern has just proven that wrong.

    Comment by southerncanuck | October 15, 2008 | Reply

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