What's the Matter With Obama?
The four sins of "cling."
Which seems to demonstrate a problem I've always had with Frank Luntz-style "dial" groups: The meters measure the voter's visceral reaction to whatever the candidate is saying. If the voter hates abortion, and Candidate A attacks abortion, the meter goes up. If the voter is pro-choice, the meter goes down. What the meter doesn't capture is actual rumination--even fleeting doubts or flashes of confidence. The reaction loop's too short for that. So if something Candidate B says, in the course of defending a right to abortion, actually makes a pro-life voter think twice about the issue, that will happen later, after the meter has moved on (and probably after the meters are locked up and everyone's gone home). Indeed, the voter's immediate reaction to a candidate who prompts reconsideration of a long-held position may be more negative than usual, reflecting the voter's annoyance at being challenged and forced to think. ....
In short, the meters are good at measuring effective pandering, not at measuring effective persuasion. And sometimes candidates do persuade! ... In the case of the "3 A.M." ad, the MediaCurves "undecided" voters were viscerally turned off when they learned it was an ad for Hillary. Their dial-graphs plummet downwards. But a lot of "undecideds" seem to have been affected, non-viscerally, in a different way later. .... 4:37 P.M. link
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Obama tried pandering to Latinos in California. It didn't work. He lost. He tried pandering to Latinos in Texas. It didn't work. He lost. He tried pandering on NAFTA in Ohio. It didn't work. He lost. Maybe he should try, you know, not pandering! That would fit better with his claim to practice "a new kind of politics and a new kind of leadership," no? ... Update: Going negative, as recommended by Dick Morris, does not fit well with that claim--it seems like the sort of campaign mistake that might actually cost Obama a large chunk of support when he's mathematically almost home. Halperin's brief on this subject is persuasive. ... There must be other ways for Obama to "start acting like he has a pair." Like by dramatically not pandering! ... 2:57 P.M.
Pols In Treatment: If Hillary's a "Rorschach test"--as she said in 1993-- isn't that the problem? [Unexpectedly NSFW] ... Psychologist Ellen Ladowsky also claims Obama's trying to recapture his childhood! Not that there's anything wrong with it. ... 2:17 P.M.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
7 Weeks to Pennsylvania: What's the most apt analogy for the grim prospect that now faces the American press and public? The Bataan Death March? I think there's a better comparison. ... 1:21 P.M.
Photograph of Ann Coulter on Slate's home page by Brad Barket/Getty. Photograph of a wedding cake with two grooms on Slate's home page by Hector Mata/AFP Photo. Photograph of Princess Diana on Slate's home page by Georges De Keerle/Getty Images.