Sunday, October 16, 2005


Do you know why there's so much negative campaigning in elections? It's not because it ever causes a majority, or even a large minority, to change their minds about the candidate being smeared. A recent poll showed that, all other factors being equal, only 3% of undecided voters said that a negative campaign was likely to cause them to vote against the candidate being smeared. 35% said it would probably sway their vote toward the smeared candidate.

The rest didn't know what to think. 62% gave some version of "I still don't know what to think."

And that's the plan.

If you're a campaign manager, you look at the electorate and see three basic groups: with your guy, against your guy, and the undecideds.

Undecideds are the crucial link to close elections. They're the wild card.

So, if you're a campaign manager who thinks your candidate will win, especially if it's a close margin, what do you do with the undecideds? What buttons can you push to get them to vote for your candidate? Unfortunately, these undecideds fall into a wide socio-econo-political spectrum, united only in their inability to shit or get off the pot. The buttons you would push to sway one bunch of undecideds to vote for your guy will most likely alienate an equal number of undec's. And of course, you can't say one thing to one group and its opposite to another, since the one thing modern journalists can do is compare transcripts. And this would alienate a large bunch of folks.

It's the ultimate in cat-herding.

So, if you can't control this large group of folks, what do you do with it? What can you do?

Here's an idea: Prevent it from voting. And that's the beauty of negative campaigning--it has the ability to turn people off--not just for or against your candidate, but against the whole process.

So, for the sake of argument, let's say you have a White House that is particularly adept at this sort of politicking. In fact, it is so adept at it, that it has taken it to new heights. Or depths, depending on your point of view. Let's take it further--let's imagine this group's agenda is so selfish, so destructive, and so unAmerican that it should cause the country as a whole to rise up and run this cabal out of Washington, and perhaps even into prison.

How could you possibly sell this to a watchful public?

'Well,' the hypothetical campaign manager-turned presidential advisor says, running his pudgy little fingers through his thinning blonde hair, 'what if we continue to baffle them with bullshit? what if we continue to run a negative campaign, against those who oppose us, including journalists? What if, while we on the whole make their lives harder to live, offer them tax cuts, giving them hundreds of dollars, while taking millions for ourselves?

'What if we run a negative campaign against America?'

What do you think the results would be?



Blogger Cranky Yankee said...

The other thing negative campaigning does is energize your base. It gets those who are on your side anyway and may not be too motivated to go and vote to get off their ass and vote against your opponent.

6:07 AM, October 16, 2005  
Blogger mal said...

I think the claims that the electorate does not "listen" to negative campaigning does not reflect the reality. I truly believe that when lacking a strong positive point to vote FOR that people will vote against their fears. Lets admit it, in most of the reacent elections (state, national) there have been no strong stand out issues to separate the candidates (I think the candidates have avoided them) so they have tended to push "character" type issues

7:13 AM, October 16, 2005  
Blogger steff81 said...

I don't know if any readers live in Texas but I'm curious how you feel about making same sex marriage legal. It is a hot topic here in Texas.

12:50 PM, October 16, 2005  
Blogger Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

It shouldn't be a hot topic.

Jeez, some parts of Texas are as bad as Iran...

3:05 PM, October 16, 2005  
Blogger steff81 said...

Well it is. Please note that Texas is smack dab in the middle of the Bible belt. There are a lot of people that do not feel that homosexuality should be cramed down the majoritys' throat. I don't understand...where along the way did marriage stop being between a man and a woman. Next we'll be able to marry our dogs and cats.

4:43 PM, October 16, 2005  
Blogger United We Lay said...

The base needs energizing, so I think it's worth a shot. A lot of what people like us, Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, and some others do is actually running a negative campaign against America. We're pointing out flaws in our opponent, not to bring him down, but to build him up. We want to change things, and we want to get people to listen to us so that they want to change things. What better way to do this than to point out what's wrong and ask what people are DOING about it.

7:09 PM, October 16, 2005  
Blogger United We Lay said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:09 PM, October 16, 2005  
Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

Steff--what is wrong with two people who want to commit to a life together being allowed to do so? Homosexuality is not a disease, any more than blue eyes or red hair is a disease. And it is only a 'sin' by a very strict biblical sense, the same way that working on a Sunday is also a sin. Are you a Cowboys fan? They're sinners too, according to the bible:

Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.
(Exodus 35:2)

Or do you believe that the Sabbath is Saturday? Then condemn the Baylor Bears.

I just don't understand the uproar. What difference will it make in your life whether homosexuals can marry or not? Unless you're gay, it changes your life not a whit, while giving others the same rights under the law that any other married couples enjoy. Why is it such a big deal?


7:28 PM, October 16, 2005  
Blogger Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Steff seems to not see the irony in the persecution of Muslims for their 'extreme beliefs' and the fact that the home of Bush is as repressive and nasty as any parts of fundamental Islam.

Men can marry men, women can marry women. The bible also says that you shouldn't go near a woman when she's on her period or face death but I don't see you sticking to that motherfucker.

4:59 AM, October 17, 2005  
Blogger Philip Morton said...

Thanks Daniel, for putting to so poetically. In the end, it is all about lack of tolerance, and hate of those not like oneself, no doubt. It's a knee-jerk tribalism, a survival mechanism left over from 30,000 years ago when there was one water hole, one wart hog, and too many people to feed, and no language. So winner take all. But as BP has put in this post about negativity, you rouse your base with negativity, it's fear oriented attacks - like steff's line, one she's heard in the media about "soon cats will marry dogs" which is an O'reilly, or Dobson manipulation trick, whichterrorizes the RIGHT's base into rigid thinking, into towing the line, don't question our authority or you're "anit-marriage" suddenly, or worse, anti-american - when what you're really being is AMERICAN, the only country with this many rights, this many freedoms, with the CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT in our history, for goodness sake, with INALIENABLE RIGHTS written into the Constituion. The Religious Right and the GOP want CONTROL, and that's how they get it. It's now about caring about anyone, really, it's about staying in power. Period. They also distract you away from the real big tragedies of the economy, cuts in health care, cuts in educationk, cuts in medical care to the troops, tax cuts for big oil in the new energy bill (they really needed that), etc. with this tricky emotionally charged crap. How about "Non Gay Presidents Who Lie Pathologically which lead to American Deaths abroad and at Home and Who Can't Balance a Checkbook should be Impeached?"

12:03 PM, October 17, 2005  
Blogger steff81 said...

I didn't get the line about cats and dogs from anywhere in the media Philip and I'd appreciate you not speaking on my behalf. I don't know who that person is or what the show is about. I don't want to be associated with something I don't even know what is...even as casually as saying I heard it in the media. I was making a point.

No where did I say anything about how I personally felt about the issue. I asked how people that visit this blog felt about the issue. I did question when marriage stopped being between a man and a woman. You sure did read a lot into one comment. If you'd have asked what my opinion was rather than ranking me among terrorists than I might have been a little more willing to look at things from your perspective. Instead you lumped me into a group of people that you have no idea whether I support or not. At least I was willing to hear you out and without cursing at you. And for the record, you don't seem all that tolerant of my opinion that hasn't even been given yet. What's the word for people that say they believe one thing and then act totally opposite?

Really Philip that seems so beneath you. You definitely have age and more knowledge than me in your favor but I never would have pegged you for being a hypocrite.

And for the record Daniel, I don't mind debating issues but let's try to play like grown name calling and low blows. Cursing at me only makes you look ridiculous.
I can accept the fact that you obviously feel different than me on this issue, but I can say it without cursing at you.

2:16 PM, October 17, 2005  
Blogger Philip Morton said...

steff: Fair enough, rather than floating a position on an emotional issue that you can then reject as your own, I'm interested in knowing your actual position. For the record, O'Reilly did say that, but attribiting him as your source was justifiably unfair. And, I missed the part where I cursed at you - as I never use profanity on this blog, and lumping you in with terrorists is also a policy non-no for me, so...? I did mention lack of tolerance, and insighting the Right's base through fear, which is true on this issue, and if that doesnt' apply to you, please let me know how you REALLY feel on this so we can have a discussion, or if your stating an objective position about this anti-gay-marriage group, be clear on that and we can philosphize. As for age and wisdom, never let anyone older boss you around, you might be smarter than they are. Never said that you couldn't teach me too.

3:24 PM, October 17, 2005  
Blogger steff81 said...

Philip: I was referring to Daniel, who you think writes so poetically, when I mentioned the cursing. It was hard to tell, but the last word in his comment seems to be directed at someone and I was the one he was addressing. You have never used harsh least not to address me. It was his cursing that I was addressing. I do have an opinion and it matters to me whether or not you give a flip or not. Since the comments made on this blog (particularly those that are opposite of the majority on here) I want to think about my response. I think that is fair.

8:18 PM, October 17, 2005  
Blogger doodlebugmom said...

Ok my two cents. If people want to make a commitment more power to them! People, whatever their sexual orientation, deserve rights and healthcare and respect.


8:37 PM, October 17, 2005  
Blogger Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Steff didn't get the irony of you calling me poetic, just like she doesn't get the repression of homosexuals as a human rights crime.

Excuse my potty mouth. My dad swore a lot and it makes me feel a lot better when faced by Christians.

1:21 AM, October 18, 2005  
Blogger Cranky Yankee said...

Steph, Why would you want to marry your cat or dog?

Here are the real questions.

How long has marriage been a publically licensed institution for couples that carries benefits not available to non-married couples?

How do you feel about common law marriages?

Are Common Law marriages sacrosanct?

How would you feel if the was a generic partnership license? When opposite sex couples get one it is called and Marriage License and when same sex couples get one it is called a Partnership License. They both carried the exact same rights, benefits and responsibilities.

I'm not saying that is the solution or that it is even right. I'm just saying.

12:17 PM, October 18, 2005  
Blogger steff81 said...

Cranky Yankee: I love the last line....I'm just saying. That's kind of what I was doing when I first asked the question about gay marriage and practically got my head bit off.

And for those few of you who have posed questions for me I'm formulating an answer. I'm sure that sounds very conspiracy-ish for a few of you, but if you're interested in the answers I'll post them soon.

8:35 PM, October 18, 2005  
Blogger Philip Morton said...

Linda: thanks for your two cents, clearly they're worth much more.
Cranky: excellent question!
Steff: No problem, we can wait, we'll just shut down the blog and sit in the dark until then.

9:55 PM, October 18, 2005  
Blogger doodlebugmom said...

Thanks Phil, and thanks for giving us a place to voice an opinion. Even when we stray from the original question.

Linda :o)

p.s.How come Cranky is cranky?

5:29 AM, October 19, 2005  
Blogger steff81 said...

For what it is worth - I do not think that gay men and women should be allowed to marry each other. I believe this because, while it is umpopular, I am a Christain. I do not think that homosexuality is something one is born a predisposition to brown hair and green eyes. I believe it is a choice. While I respect the fact that many homosexuals are in committed relationships, I believe that marriage is a sacred vow between a man and a woman.

So, for those of you in Texas, excersize your right to vote and vote against the ammendment. As for me, I'll be doing the same thing and voting for it.

Despite some nastiness, I still like this blog because people can come and express different opinions and ideas without being judged (okay without being judged too harshly).

8:30 PM, October 19, 2005  
Blogger United We Lay said...

First, let me say that I am actually asking the questions below rather thsan just passing judgement on your beliefs. Also, let me say that I have researched homosexuality, gay marriage, and related topics from BOTH the Christian and non-christian point of view. Since you're an intelligent and confident young woman, I'm sure you've done the same.

How is who I marry any of your business? Do I get to tell you who you can marry? I really wonder about you. You say you're a Christian, and yet you're so intolerant. You say you don't THINK people are born gay, but you don't KNOW. If you don't know, you really can't assume. I've heard peoopel say, "You're not born gay, you're born-again." What if they don;t want to be born again? Why do you get to tell them they should be?

Why do you think Christians are more morally sound than the rest of us? What makes you and your buddies the moral critics for all humanity?

7:22 AM, October 20, 2005  
Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

Thank you for your opinion Steff.

There is much debate about whether or not homosexuality is a 'choice.' According to the scientists and sociologists who study this phenomena, most homosexuals polled do not feel it is a choice.

Now, let me repeat my question to you:

How will allowing homosexual couples to have the same rights and privileges affect you? In what way will it make your life any different than it already is?


7:28 AM, October 20, 2005  
Blogger boni said...

It's really great to have an open forum like this.
It's even better to have an open mind.
I always wondered how the Republicans won the election in '04. Well, they did a good job framing the discussion around whether or not gays should marry. Just like Steff81 has done here with BP's blog.
So here are my questions to Steff:
Have you ever known a gay person? (Some people who seem very straight are actually gay. I imagine that happens a lot in your part of Texas.) Have you ever talked to that person at length about anything? Like whether or not his or her sexual orientation was by choice or just nature? I know this all started by you asking a seemingly innocent question about a dozen comments ago. Let me put it this way. Gays are not the boogy men your religion makes them out to be.
You know who the boogy men are? People who pretend to be Christian but are really intolerant and hateful. Who start illegal wars. Who condone torture. Who support and cater to the rich instead of the poor in this country. Who care more about PR spin than governing.
Do you honestly think that if we keep gays from marrying, that all will be right with this world of ours?
And as a long as we're keeping them from marrying, what else do you suggest? Should we keep them from certain jobs? Make sure they can only live in certain parts of town? Should they wear a special insignia so that we know they are gay and we don't have to deal with them? I mean, where do you draw the line Steff81?
Stop being such a believer and start being a questioner of your own beliefs first. Then worry about everybody else...

8:39 AM, October 20, 2005  
Blogger Philip Morton said...

Wouldn't it be great to have any of these questions answered? Not just here, but on the public stage?
Steff: Answer any of them and you may get a prize.
Boni: great point about framing the debate - all the big screw ups disappear under the rug of a big emotional issue, like rights for minority groups. That's the genius of the GOP - pick an emotional issue, that's small potatos politically and will have NO impact on how you take money, wage wars, or re-direct power, and viola - you can work your power games behind closed doors while the public freaks out about civil unions vs. gay marriage. Immigration is next up for the GOP - they will make "naturalization, or easy temp. citizenship" a huge issue, to court the latin vote. Watch it all play out and distract from GOP indictments, war, deficit disasters, oil glut, etc. Moronic, of so many of us, to fall for it really. How about this for framing big issues emotionally? With the GOP: When you retire you'll have no money. When you get sick, you'll get no care. Your kids will be dead because they will a) be ground up in the perpetual war, b) be killed in a natural disaster where no relief was given in time, c) died in the cold of winter because oil prices were too high to heat homes... That's the short list, by the way. There's an old banner from the Revolutionary War. It says JOIN OR DIE, because if the English felt you were siding with the "rebels" they killed you and took your home, and there wasn't a lot of quality control about that. Of course the King of England back then was named George. Anyone get the irony yet? New Dem. slogan? Join or Die, because George has not go your back, America.

10:00 AM, October 20, 2005  
Blogger steff81 said...

We can go around and around, and while our typing skills may get a work out, the result will remain the same. I will still continue to believe that marriage is between a man and woman. And apparently all of you will believe that I'm a small-minded, intolerant person.

10:55 PM, October 20, 2005  
Blogger Cranky Yankee said...

I agree that it is bad to spend so much time in the GOP framed wedge, but I can't help myself...

Steff, while I respect your right to an opinion I feel it is too centered on the word(concept) "marriage". Our argument isn't really about the word marriage in the religous sense. Is it fair for opposite sex couples that are not married but in a monogamous partnership to be denied any benefits of marriage?

Would you be Ok with same sex couples who are cohabitating in a contractual relationship that having the same rights, responsibilties and benefits as those of a married couple?

6:29 AM, October 21, 2005  
Blogger Cranky Yankee said...

"p.s.How come Cranky is cranky?"

Thanks for the opportunity to shamelessly plug my blog.

On being Cranky

6:40 AM, October 21, 2005  
Blogger doodlebugmom said...

I have to comment on steff's comment. She said "... I believe this because, while it is unpopular, I am a Christain..."

Since when is being a Christain unpopular? I am a Christian, as are the majority of Americans.

I was raised not to judge people or discrimate against them becasue they are different from me.

God will judge me.

7:43 AM, October 21, 2005  
Blogger boni said...

I too, consider myself a Christian and I think what irks me most about Steff81 at this point is she did not answer Cranky Yankee's or my questions. That's lame.

5:48 PM, October 21, 2005  
Blogger Philip Morton said...

well, maybe she's taking a time out. She started a category five fire storm. Some people aren't on a mission to hit a nerve, they just do. She did.

10:22 PM, October 21, 2005  
Blogger United We Lay said...

Or mine.

10:07 AM, October 23, 2005  
Blogger United We Lay said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:07 AM, October 23, 2005  
Blogger Philip Morton said...

Yeah, they were all very good questions too. The kind to write social policy on.

6:59 PM, October 23, 2005  

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