Sunday, November 7, 2010

About that vote

The GOP won big not just because Republicans voted in droves--I'm not sure the Republican turnout was any bigger than before. But the Democratic turnout was way lower than before.

This wasn't just because the American Left thought Obama was a crypto-Republican (though they do, which is screamingly funny given that the average Republican thinks he's a socialist).

The main factor was the effectiveness of the Republican Ministry of Propaganda at dissuading Democrats from voting.

I'm not talking about robocalls giving the wrong date for voting. it's subtler than that. Instead, their propaganda--absent effectively crafted and financed Democratic responses--got a lot of Democrats to lose faith and stay home.

That's the beauty of character assassination. Many people vote on emotional grounds, not policy grounds. So if you can convince them that the Prez isn't a nice guy you'd like to have over for dinner, you win.

They painted Obama as intellectual, as a snob, as distant. They never once gave him the slightest credit for his unimpeachable family life, and Obama wasn't willing to expose his family to the limelight to make the point. And the painting went on and is going on nonstop. If a thousand voices tell you something eventually it comes to sound like common knowledge.

If they'd attacked his policies that's one thing. But attacking his character works for both goosing the base and dissuading the middle. On the surface the middle rejects the wilder claims against him--but Reverend Wright now...how many thousands of times has his "Damn America" clip run?

So as you look at the media and the pundits and the fake think tanks and the ads and the whisper campaigns and the chain emails and the posters and all the rest--remember that every opponent's vote you suppress is exactly as good as every supporter's vote you gain.

And you'll rarely see the targeted stuff. We all see the general attacks. But the Republicans have perfected niche marking. If you live in coal country you get the anti-environment attacks. If you're in fundamentalist turf you get the "He's not a Christian" attacks. If you're a plumber in Peoria you might get an attack or a push poll or some such geared to plumbers in Peoria. The beauty of the Internet and computerized robocalls and emails is that you can slice and dice in a way that wasn't imaginable a few decades ago.

So any one person only sees the tip of the iceberg that goes out to the general public.

Never think you're seeing it all, or that you're seeing the dirtiest stuff. That's reserved for the whisper campaigns. But as you see what you do see, think about its crafting for both base-goosing and opponent-discouraging.

Side note: one of the best camoflages for real conspiracies is all the ridiculous fake conspiracy theorizing that floods the blogosphere. But as they say, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get ya.

1 comment:

n1ck said...

You're right. I'd be interested in finding out whether there is any assortment or organization of anti-candidate advertising.

Imagine if you could get a representative sample of the negative campaign ads from the regions in which they are sent. You could piece together the narrative that the parties use to demonize the other, that as you point out, they usually slice up to play towards voters' particular emotional states.

There's probably a position in each party that could be created to take the regional anti-candidate ads, so you could negate it in each region specifically, and use it as a whole in the national campaign to counter-act the negative ads sent out regionally.