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April 19, 2012

Does The War On Dogs Actually Move Votes?

There's good eatin' by the haunches.


The respective base of each side is locked up. What remains is those folks in the middle who claim to care but who canít be bothered to read about politics and policy. So what ends up influencing the decisions of these low-information voters? All kinds of factors, including appearances . . .
The looks of political candidates are a key factor influencing voters, a phenomenon identified by a number of scholars in recent years. Now, a new study by MIT political scientists adds to this body of research by detailing which types of citizens are most influenced by candidate appearances, and why: The tendency is most prevalent among low-information voters who watch a lot of television.

Using data from the 2006 U.S. Senate and governorsí races, the study shows that for every 10-point increase in the advantage a candidate has when rated by voters on his or her looks, there will be a nearly 5 percent increase in the vote for that candidate by the uninformed voters who are most firmly planted on their couches. Yet that same advantage in loo ks is worth only about a 1 percent increase among low-information voters who watch little television.

The dueling dog stories represent each campaign making Hail Mary passes to reach these low-information voters.

Streiff agrees with Geraghty.

Some of the small things will wind up mattering. You don't know which ones will matter, so might as well make mention of them all.

@onefinejay on Twitter put it well, rebutting a No Fun Allowed prig's assertion that we shouldn't waste our time on, um, enjoyable things.

we'll have a few laughs, affect the zeitgeist a little, and keep being happy warriors. We'll win.

GMan, posting in the comments yesterday, quoted Alinksy's Rules for Radicals:

RULE 5: Ridicule is manís most potent weapon. Itís hard to counter attack ridicule, and it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.

RULE 6: A good tactic is one that your people enjoy. If your people arenít having a ball doing it, there is something very wrong with the tactic.

Reaching low-information voters isn't the only goal. Another goal is solidarity within the cause.

We just exited a long, bruising primary, in which some won and some lost, and in which a lot of insults flew, and a lot of anger was vented.

Stuff like this dog meme creates, unavoidably, a shared cultural reference among us. Just like two Children of the Eighties may find a rapport by discussing their past love of Dark Tower, so too can political partisans find a bit of human connection over silly jokes about Obama, Devourer of Dogs.

Right now -- as anger over the primary remains raw -- stuff like Hilary Rosen's attack on Ann Romney -- and our collective defense of her -- and Jim Treacher's dogged research (ahem) helps unify, emotionally, a movement which cannot and never will be completely unified in terms of policy preference.

That's useful.

Plus, you know, eating dogs is a ghastly practice of foreign barbarians. As the Obama campaign struggles to portray Romney as a weirdo and The Other, we can always note Dude Ate a F***in' Dog.

Moe Lane wonders what form Obama's next attempt to portray Romney as The Other will take -- but questions whether such an attempt is advisable.

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posted by Ace at 12:14 PM

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