Monday, August 06, 2007

The Psychology of Elections

Excellent article this weekend at the Washington Post on how the Democrats have relied on rational arguments, rather than emotional arguments, to their own election-day peril. Emory University professor Drew Westen wrote
For much of the last 40 years, Democrats have ignored their guts and searched for the best facts and figures. But the most compelling fact is that during those 40 years, only one Democrat has been reelected to the presidency. Bill Clinton was also the only Democrat who intuitively understood that the best appeals seize people with something emotionally compelling, lay out the alternatives posed by the candidates and "close the argument" with inspiration or outrage.


Pork Rinds said...

I'm not really sure what the point is here. Should democrats be all emotional and stuff? Should we embrace the tactics of Bush et al just to win out in the end? I believe that the success of Clinton's presidency was much more about his populist policy and less about his emotional candor.

I think that Americans do have the potential to debate and vote based on reason as well as emotion. Of course, asking for careful attention from a population that continues to endorse Paris Hilton's celebrity seems about as productive as trying to cure cancer through the power of prayer. But maybe if we all just really, really believe...

Disco said...

Pork Rinds, it sounds like you are talking more about how you wish people would react and take in info, rather than how they do. I'm not sure that sounding like a policy wonk has that great of an impact. You seem to dismiss emotional reactions as being "all emotional and stuff." I don't think they are saying the strategy is to be overly emotional, but to speak in ways that connect on an emotional, not bookish, level. Two ways to get to the same goal, one effective, one not. I think Clinton was able to relate well to the common person, while still being highly intelligent and articulate.