Our Elections Are No Longer Based on the Will of the People

 

I just read a fascinating article on National Review by Dan McLaughlin.  It’s a long, detailed examination of the way modern elections are won.  All the subgroups, from soccer Moms to rural high school dropouts.  All the careful distribution of resources to precisely the places where it can have more impact, not in terms of votes, but in terms of electoral votes.  Avoiding principles and ideology, while creating conflict and divisions that can be exploited.  It’s fascinating.  Horrifying, but fascinating.  He suggests that many of these techniques were either created or refined by Obama’s campaign team:

Moreover, if you believe the post-election exit polls (more on that below), Obama was the first winner since Jimmy Carter in 1976 to lose voters age 30 and over. He lost independents. He lost white women by the largest margin of any candidate since Walter Mondale’s 49-state rout in 1984, even losing white women under 30. He lost suburbanites. He lost white Catholics by 19 percentage points. He lost married voters by 14. You name the group assumed to be swing voters in 2012, and Obama floundered.

He also lost on the historic swing-voter issues. A clear majority said the country was on the wrong track. Obama lost by 22 points the 77 percent of voters who saw the economy dimly, and by 50 points the 60 percent who saw no economic improvement. Seventy-four percent said that the most important candidate quality was “vision for future,” “shares my values,” or “strong leader,” and Obama lost those voters collectively by 14 points. But he rolled up a lopsided 81-to-18 margin with voters who cited “cares about people.”

Yet Obama won 51 percent of the popular vote and 332 electoral votes. He carried 13 of the 16 largest states. How did he do it?

Mr. McLaughlin thinks that Obama perfected the idea of making no effort to convince anyone of anything.  Well, except that the other side is evil.  Thus, you can increase turnout among people already support you, specifically in places where you need to dominate, to gain electoral votes:

In short, where prior campaigns won the center, Obama appeared to move the center in his direction by using superior base turnout as a substitute for swing voters.

It’s a long article, but very much worth your time.  Please read the whole thing, although that may be difficult for some, because it’s behind a paywall.

Modern politics has become so refined and sophisticated that the wants and needs of the voters have become less important than clever use of social media, etc.

But really, this was inevitable.  As our government became more and more powerful, and controlled more and more of our economy, then elections simply became too important to be left to chance.  So you fire your speechwriters and policy geeks, and hire an army of stats geniuses, computer geeks, lawyers, and strategists.  The self-stratification of the American public into easily accessible groups on social media has made possible things that FDR could have only dreamed of.

What does the candidate believe in?  Who cares?

It’s increasingly obvious that the Republicans’ efforts to convince American citizens that the Republican party has solutions to our problems may be a misguided strategy.  That’s how Reagan won.  That’s not how elections are won now.

Our last election was a fiasco in many, many, many different ways.

And subsequent elections are going to be worse.  There are a whole lot of very smart people working day and night to find ways to ensure the electoral outcome they are hired to achieve.  They’re getting better and better at this game.  It’s hard to imagine what they’ll be doing in 5-10 years.

You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet…

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  1. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    —> Government Is How We Steal From Each Other™ <—

    Take power any way you can and then use it. 

    Everything Moves Left All Of The Time

    One of the things I notice on Minnesota Twitter is how the hard-core left talks about this stuff. They get into the weeds so much about electorate and election analysis it’s unbelievable. Get power and then move things left no matter what. Then they have a whole system to help people that lose political positions. This state has a huge problem with Democrat NGOs that don’t accomplish anything, including people that get thrown in jail. The system never stops. They circulate people between jobs in that stuff and then jobs in the legislature etc. It never recedes. 

    We just had a huge scandal of the group that Minnesota is most notorious for stealing government funds. It was about feeding kids in Soviet style feeding systems. We are talking astronomy numbers of kids going in and out of buildings. Nobody saw them. Some Judge shut down the complains to law-enforcement or something. It made the New York Times. I doubt anything is going to improve.

    • #1
  2. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    And so, our “betters” will start forcing the nomination of personalities.

    Gotta work better than McCain and Romney did.

    • #2
  3. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!

    • #3
  4. Kevin Schulte Member
    Kevin Schulte
    @KevinSchulte

    The left has been cheating elections for as long as I can remember. No republican would ever dare question the vote in every major city or dem enclave. They have professionalized and mastered cheating. 

    I am willing to entertain that Obama stole his second election. And countless other elections have been stolen. The left has put us in Orwellian times. Nothing would surprise me.

    Those elections a Republican won but lost the majority vote. Did they really ? 

    After 2020 no one should trust election results. Even if the Republican pulls past the cheating factor.  

    • #4
  5. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    Some of this was pioneered by the JFK campaign of 1960.  

    • #5
  6. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    A very interesting take on the past elections, Dr. B!  I wouldn’t have phrased your title as “no longer based on the will of the people.”  I look at it as mostly  “based on the will of those who are easily manipulated by political rhetoric.”  Or even”based on the will of ignorant people (low-information voters).”  I think the National Review article reminds us that no matter how much valuable information is at the fingertips of modern Americans, there is a huge swath of people who who don’t access that information and just vote based on their “feelings.” I would hazard a guess that the gap between the “knowledgeable people” and the “uninformed people” is wider than it used to be in America, when we had much higher education standards and graduation rates from high school.  A lot of people use their computers, one of the greatest technological advancements of mankind, mainly for chatting with their friends, playing video games, and watching porn.  It is not surprising that they can be easily swayed to vote for “whatever feels right.”

    • #6
  7. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    Shoshana Zuboff’s Surveillance Capitalism explains the nuts and bolts of how it’s done.  She’s talking about retail sales, but retail politics works just as well.

    • #7
  8. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Steven Seward (View Comment):
    I would hazard a guess that the gap between the “knowledgeable people” and the “uninformed people” is wider than it used to be in America, when we had much higher education standards and graduation rates from high school.

    and civics courses.

    I helped a good friend of mine on a political campaign one time years ago. We went to the post office parking lot to collect signatures to get our candidate on the ballot. On these types of petitions, the people who sign don’t need to be the same party as the candidate or live in a particular precinct. We just needed people registered to vote in Massachusetts. It was a very preliminary election step.

    We were really surprised at (a) the number of old timers who almost ran us over because they wanted to approach us in their cars :-) and (b) the number of people who waved us away–all people our age and younger. People our parents’ and grandparents’ age came right over, thanked us for standing in the snow and slush for hours to do this, and signed without any problem.

    I had a nice long conversation with our school superintendent after that. I said, “Mike, how will our kids ever be able to get organized to build a school or a library or get a stop sign? We need to teach our kids how the government is set up and how it works.” He agreed with me wholeheartedly. We both laughed that our kids thought celebrating their eighteenth birthday meant registering to vote and going to town meeting. Not some sort of wild party. :-) :-)

    We’re supposed to be teaching our children how to take care of themselves. Civics is part of that.

    • #8
  9. Quickz Member
    Quickz
    @Quickz

    Great piece!

    I’ll only add not to forget “fortifying the election” for decades (especially in the runup to 2020), and the tacit if not outright assistance from the supposed “leaders” of the Republican Party.

    If one has not read Mollie Hemmingway’s recent piece on this, it wraps all of @drbastiat ‘s post up with a nice bow.

    • #9
  10. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Our government will be what we teach our children to want of it.  

    Which seems to be a Mommy / transgender / hate the whites / eat the rich / give me free stuff or we will cancel you or burn the world down government.  

    • #10
  11. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    We’re in a situation where we have put together, and you guys did it for President Obama’s administration before this, we have put together, I think, the most extensive and inclusive voter fraud organization in the history of American politics.

    – Joe Biden

    I am with Kevin on this.

    • #11
  12. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Dr. Bastiat: Our last election was a fiasco.  In many, many, many different ways.

    What are you, some kind of election denier?

    • #12
  13. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    Stina (View Comment):

    We’re in a situation where we have put together, and you guys did it for President Obama’s administration before this, we have put together, I think, the most extensive and inclusive voter fraud organization in the history of American politics.

    – Joe Biden

    I am with Kevin on this.

    Biden, in his impaired cognitive state, is a walking ‘Freudian Slip’. He sometimes speaks the truth even though he knows that he is not supposed to.

    • #13
  14. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Columbo (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    We’re in a situation where we have put together, and you guys did it for President Obama’s administration before this, we have put together, I think, the most extensive and inclusive voter fraud organization in the history of American politics.

    – Joe Biden

    I am with Kevin on this.

    Biden, in his impaired cognitive state, is a walking ‘Freudian Slip’. He sometimes speaks the truth even though he knows that he is not supposed to.

    I would say when he said this, he was early stage dementia, which is usually characterized by decreased inhibition. Do you remember Bush Sr smacking the rear of some lady? That kind of thing.

    Still mostly functional, but without the typical truth to lie filter he normally possesses.

    • #14
  15. DonG (CAGW is a Hoax) Coolidge
    DonG (CAGW is a Hoax)
    @DonG

    Obama was a fluke and McCain was an exceptionally poor candidate.   Obama promised to turn the page on the America’s past racial sins.   Of course, he did the oppose.  No Democrat candidate will ever be able to promise that again or allow a GOP candidate to make that promise.     Obama was not the blue print for elections, he was the right guy at the right time and took advantage of a trusting public.  That situation will not happen again.

    • #15
  16. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Dr. Bastiat: But he rolled up a lopsided 81-to-18 margin with voters who cited “cares about people.”

    Too bad these voters don’t understand the different between “cares about people” and “actually does things to help people” . . .

    • #16
  17. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Stad (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat: But he rolled up a lopsided 81-to-18 margin with voters who cited “cares about people.”

    Too bad these voters don’t understand the different between “cares about people” and “actually does things to help people” . . .

    And do you want to be “cared for” by someone who “cares about people” the way a sadist does, or an outright psychopath?  Or maybe someone who “likes people” the way Hannibal Lecter does, “medium-rare?”

    • #17
  18. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat: But he rolled up a lopsided 81-to-18 margin with voters who cited “cares about people.”

    Too bad these voters don’t understand the different between “cares about people” and “actually does things to help people” . . .

    And do you want to be “cared for” by someone who “cares about people” the way a sadist does, or an outright psychopath? Or maybe someone who “likes people” the way Hannibal Lecter does, “medium-rare?”

    Good point.  I can take care of myself, so I’d rather the government leave me the eff alone . . .

    • #18
  19. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Stad (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat: But he rolled up a lopsided 81-to-18 margin with voters who cited “cares about people.”

    Too bad these voters don’t understand the different between “cares about people” and “actually does things to help people” . . .

    “I feel your pain.” 

    • #19
  20. Capt. Spaulding Member
    Capt. Spaulding
    @CaptSpaulding

    The McLaughlin article in question will appear in the August 1 print version of NR. It’s available early on the magazine’s website as a sort of showcase/preview. 

    • #20
  21. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Doc, what do you mean by “the will of the people”?  If the votes of a majority does not represent “the will of the people,” then what does?

    I think that Steven has a good point in #6 above.

    I do have to say that I’m skeptical of a claim that this phenomenon is somehow new.  My generic recollections of quotes by Chesterton and Menken lead me to believe that we’re not suddenly inundated with a deluge of ignorant, easily manipulated voters.  That type of voter seems to have been around for a long time.

    I do think that the Obama campaign did an effective job in using new technology to influence voters.

    • #21
  22. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio&hellip; (View Comment):

    Doc, what do you mean by “the will of the people”? If the votes of a majority does not represent “the will of the people,” then what does?

    I think that Steven has a good point in #6 above.

    I do have to say that I’m skeptical of a claim that this phenomenon is somehow new. My generic recollections of quotes by Chesterton and Menken lead me to believe that we’re not suddenly inundated with a deluge of ignorant, easily manipulated voters. That type of voter seems to have been around for a long time.

    I do think that the Obama campaign did an effective job in using new technology to influence voters.

    And used lots of lawyers.  

    • #22
  23. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    kedavis (View Comment):
    Or maybe someone who “likes people” the way Hannibal Lecter does, “medium-rare?”

    You forgot the nice chianti . . .

    • #23
  24. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Stad (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    Or maybe someone who “likes people” the way Hannibal Lecter does, “medium-rare?”

    You forgot the nice chianti . . .

    … and fava beans.

    • #24
  25. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio&hellip; (View Comment):

    Doc, what do you mean by “the will of the people”? If the votes of a majority does not represent “the will of the people,” then what does?

    I think that Steven has a good point in #6 above.

    I do have to say that I’m skeptical of a claim that this phenomenon is somehow new. My generic recollections of quotes by Chesterton and Menken lead me to believe that we’re not suddenly inundated with a deluge of ignorant, easily manipulated voters. That type of voter seems to have been around for a long time.

    I do think that the Obama campaign did an effective job in using new technology to influence voters.

    I would say that there is a random set of people across all demographics that are not politically engaged. However, motivating them could encourage participation.

    By targeting with fine precision certain groups on one side of the aisle, but not the other, you are manipulating results to not reflect the actual makeup of the US. These efforts are not based on policies but simply GOTV methods. It isn’t about informing people, but getting them to fill in the right box on the ballot form.

    It is manipulative and definitely not representative of the US, because large groups have not been treated equitably and GOTV is partisan.

    • #25
  26. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    That’s beside the point that I think Obama utilized fraud.

    • #26
  27. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    —> Government Is How We Steal From Each Other™ <—

    Take power any way you can and then use it.

    Everything Moves Left All Of The Time

    One of the things I notice on Minnesota Twitter is how the hard-core left talks about this stuff. They get into the weeds so much about electorate and election analysis it’s unbelievable. Get power and then move things left no matter what. Then they have a whole system to help people that lose political positions. This state has a huge problem with Democrat NGOs that don’t accomplish anything, including people that get thrown in jail. The system never stops. They circulate people between jobs in that stuff and then jobs in the legislature etc. It never recedes.

    We just had a huge scandal of the group that Minnesota is most notorious for stealing government funds. It was about feeding kids in Soviet style feeding systems. We are talking astronomy numbers of kids going in and out of buildings. Nobody saw them. Some Judge shut down the complains to law-enforcement or something. It made the New York Times. I doubt anything is going to improve.

    I suppose what you’re addressing here is one of the main reasons we may only survive if we separate, then tighten everything down so much liberals leave, nothing free, nothing without effort.  Not going to happen, but I love the thought. 

    • #27
  28. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    RufusRJones (View Comment):
    We just had a huge scandal of the group that Minnesota is most notorious for,* stealing government funds. It was about feeding kids in Soviet style feeding systems. We are talking astronomy numbers of kids going in and out of buildings. Nobody saw them. Some Judge shut down the complains to law-enforcement or something. It made the New York Times. I doubt anything is going to improve.

    Bad writing, but the comma helps clarity. 

    • #28
  29. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Campaign consultants and strategists take credit for wins and readily explain how their strategy was the sole cause.  Barrack Obama was a too-young, unknown guy with a Mulsim middle name who won the election the day John McCain got flustered by the financial crisis while Obama remained cool (without having any solutions or answers).

      

    • #29
  30. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Campaign consultants and strategists take credit for wins and readily explain how their strategy was the sole cause. Barrack Obama was a too-young, unknown guy with a Mulsim middle name who won the election the day John McCain got flustered by the financial crisis while Obama remained cool (without having any solutions or answers).

     

    Obama’s speech at the 2004 Democrat national convention catapulted him into instant political celebrity.  He didn’t have to accomplish anything, just be the guy who would stop global warming with his charisma.  

    • #30
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