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Saturday, 28 April 2012

This book looks at how people vote and what determines who they vote for. It is written by a Democrat, and so looks at how the Democrats can beat the Republicans.

The central thesis of this book is that people determine how they vote based on emotions rather than cold, logical thinking. The candidates that do well need to tell stories that inspire people and link in with the candidates beliefs. To win elections to some extent requires a triumph of substance over form.

The book outlines this central thesis and then uses examples of how Republicans have already done this in debates and illustrates how a Democrat should respond, by creating hypothetical responses. The author regards the Democrats as being too considered with policies that generally bore or do not connect with an electorate. While the Republicans have stronger narratives that appeal to the people. Republicans are also more prepared to fight dirty, and this makes them appear stronger. An example is John Kerry’s unwillingness to fight when George Bush's criticism of his Kerry's war record. In theory as a decorated veteran this ought to have been a clear win for Kerry, but instead Kerry tried to rise above it and so appeared to have something to hide or to be weak.

The impression is that Democrats need to be nastier, the author does not have a problem with negative campaigns, especially if they are retaliatory. This is in part because not to respond does not raise a candidate up so much as make them seem weak and unable to respond.

Much is made of the way Republicans have hijacked language. An example would be a term such as "tax relief" which seems to have a positive impression, the fact these are often limited to a few executives is ignored. The Democrats need to have simple narratives that are clearly described in every day language and using stories that connect with electorates lives.

This book is interesting and highlights the ideas that much of how we vote is based on how we feel about a candidate rather than a rational analysis of their points. The book is very US centric, and the same doesn't apply in other countries, as many issues such as abortion and gun control are not so contested.