Presidential Prediction - 2012!

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Before the Presidential debate tomorrow, I wanted to go ahead and make a prediction on the record. And it’s not that the debate doesn’t matter. It does. But mostly it’s fodder for those who have to fill column space or draft words for talking heads while partisans proclaim, “My guy won!”  Fortunately, I only have a blog space that has no minimum or maximum characters, no expectations, and no accountabilities to others as I don’t get paid for this.

It should be noted that none of the below is intended to favor or discredit one candidate or the other. Where humor is found, humor is taken.  If your guy wins, enjoy.  If your guy loses, take solace in that it happened without significant merit, as follows.

There are weighty issues before the U.S. electorate heading into the upcoming Presidential election. Unemployment rates of 8% and higher, the surge in the national debt, and international tensions in the Mid-East (as always), in Korea (predictable as the seasons), and wherever fundamentalist Muslims reside (a more recent entry). None of these require a politicfcal bent to recognize as being current issues in need of effective and ongoing leadership.

That said, the substance of these issues do not matter in the course of determining a Presidential winner.

Other issues (immigration, gay rights, global warming, entitlements, free birth control for women, fairness in tax policy, the 1%, disarmament, No Nukes!, Save the Whale!, etc.) are defined by segments who want things a certain way and the reactionary voices that rise against. I have no doubt these, too, will be explored in the debate.

But, the substance of these issues do not matter in the course of determining a winner.

Why not? Those with a bias, conviction, or a defining world view have already bought, if not into their candidate, then certainly into an abiding faith, hope, or confidence in “their” political party. Regardless of ideology, they care.

That leaves “The Undecided,” moderates who want to be seen as taking a contemplative approach to analyzing the defining issues of the day and the candidates’ proposed solutions, without being beholden to a political party. But, darn it, judgments made a la carte from the political spectrum take sooo much time. And effort. And that’s inconvenient.  

For Presidential elections (not local or off-cycle), I posit that the masses adopting the political poles of Left and Right essentially cancel each other out.  Arguments and persuasion are not going to change their minds.  Those ballots are already cast.  And that’s why “The Undecided” are the candidates’ most important target audience.

Political rallies don’t matter, in and of themselves. There is an audience, but it’s not “The Undecided.” That would require making time for politics, listening at length and actually thinking in the wider context of others’ input and their assumptions.  Political conventions and rallies may as well fess up; they’re about raising money for advertising.

Advertising campaigns might matter. They’re blessedly short, and they meet “The Undecided” where they live – in the middle of America’s Got Talent and CSI:Everywhere.  Commercials have to walk a very fine line.  When an undecided complains of negative advertising, it’s devoid of the political content but represents their feelings about the candidate. “He (or she) isn’t nice.” That provides a suitable rudder to those adrift, only because it is at hand. Similar to the upcoming debate, commercials galvanize the faithful and largely risk alienating the undecided. 

What matters most is “sound bites.” They’re abundantly available on the radio, the evening news, late night TV, YouTube, etc., and they’re easily digested. No thinking required. So, perhaps I misspoke regarding the Presidential debate.   Whoever’s “zingers” are funniest or, perhaps, the least cruel, stands to gain with “The Undecided.” Why? Because it’s sport. And sports makes good conversation for barbeques.

What?

My guiding philosophy is that “The Undecided” will make their choice based on which of the candidates that they would most like to invite over for a barbeque.

If you’re not from the South, that’s very similar to a cookout or a clambake (less the pretension). It’s in your backyard, the food is on the grill, music is playing, friends are gathered in lawn chairs, the kids are playing away from the adults, and there’s beer to be had for those so inclined. (Follow the examples in my 2008 prediction if you want to follow a practical application.) To be clear, barbeque entrees are clearly the stuff of the candidate, but the sauce…sauce can make good pork taste average, or average brisket taste delightful. The sauce here is the abundant seasoning fashioned from gaffes, poor advertising, out of context quotes, and a media that caters Zingers rather than having to cook real food. 

The question for “The Undecided” is, “Who do you invite?”

“Pork on a stick has never tasted so good!”

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Or “This foam is heady stuff”?

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Let’s look at some of those things the candidates, press, cartoonists, comedians, editorialists, etc. want us to know...   Would you prefer:

  • A private equity capitalist who didn’t earn his money or Robin Hood?
  • The savior of the Salt Lake City Olympics or the annual NCAA Tournament prognosticator?
  • An outright bully (“I’ll bet you $10,000 right now” or a read-between-the-lines bully (“I think we can do better than this”… and if you disagree, you’ll be labeled a racist, bigot, chauvinist, and/or fat cat)?
  • Favorite food: Peanut butter and honey (also hummus, pita, and organic applesauce) vs. Chicago pizza and home-made chili?
  • A Mormon not allowed to drink alcohol or the proximate cause of White House brew?

In finding who we’d like to have over for the barbeque, President Obama wins, by a margin of baked beans AND a vinegar based slaw.  I doubt the final tally will be so generous, but amongst “The Undecideds,” yeah.

A final proof.

You’ve read this far.  Bear with me.  I think, with 104.6% of our population on cell phones, whoever answers a house phone and responds to poll questions these days is not a particularly reliable indicator for public trending, regardless of how the questions are worded.  My theory is similarly challenged in validation.  It’s not likely that many would admit to fitting my definition of “The Undecided.” Further, it’s a subconscious process that, perhaps like Nessie, is not expected to surface. Often.

But, in the news today, there it is.  And it’s apropos that it comes from someone best spoken when reading from a script.

"I think Republicans really had a chance to win," (Ben) Affleck said. "And they kind of ended up with like a sort of Mike Dukakis, Al Gore, Bob Dole type — who just couldn't get people to see him as a real person somehow. Romney just had such trouble coming off as just like the kind of person you see at the grocery store. And I truly believe that has cost him the election."

There you have it.  “Help wanted: Must be a native born US citizen, at least 35 years old, have lived in the US for at least 14 years, and be thekind of person you see at the grocery store.”  This is the substantive basis we have for choosing a worthy leader of the free world.  A pleasant speaking voice helps, by the way.

 

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