Memo to Republicans: How to Make Them Fall in Love with You — Rob Long

 

Relationships are tricky, especially political ones. Once people choose a side, getting them to switch is a tough proposition, which is why the old cliché is true: Democrats vote for Democrats, Republicans for Republicans, and both sides fight over the narrower slice in the center.

So, a thought experiment: how do you get so-called “independents” to declare a side? How do you get them to commit? Or, in other words, how do you get them to fall in love with you?

Luckily, according to The Week, there’s a science to that:

When researchers asked people to tell the stories of how they fell in love, what were the eleven most common factors?

Variables that influence falling in love:

1. Similarity in attitudes, background, personality traits

2. Geographic proximity

3. Desirable characteristics of personality and appearance

4. Reciprocal affection, the fact that the other likes us

5. Satisfying needs

6. Physical and emotional arousal

7. Social influences, norms, and the approval of people in our circle

8. Specific cues in the beloved’s voice, eyes, posture, way of moving

9. Readiness for a romantic relationship

10. Opportunities to be alone together

11. Mystery, in the situation or the person

[Falling in Love: Why We Choose the Lovers We Choose]

Think about that for a second, from the perspective of a political candidate. Some of that stuff is obvious: be normal, be available, be close, be popular. In political terms, that means, I think, the following: seem like a regular person (the “I want to have a beer with that guy” rule); seem like you can relate to the voter (“be close”); and be appealing to other voters (look like a winner, in other words.)  

Some of it isn’t so obvious. What could “satisfying needs” mean? For liberals, it’s a pretty easy thing — promise more and bigger benefits. But what does that mean for conservatives?

Be mysterious? I suppose that could mean maintaining the dignity and prestige of the office. Acting presidential, that sort of thing. Looking and acting like a leader.

But the one I find the most compelling is this:  “Reciprocal affection.” Actually have an affection for the voter. Enjoy being on the campaign trail. When you press the flesh, look like you’re enjoying yourself. No, that’s not enough. You have to genuinely enjoy it. Reagan did. So did Bill Clinton. George W. Bush did, too. Barack Obama, not so much.

That’s one thing we can say about Barack Obama:  he doesn’t like us very much. But I suspect the next president will feel differently.

 

 

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  1. TKC1101 Inactive
    TKC1101
    @TKC1101

    Reagan, Clinton, GW Bush all had one thing in common, they projected middle class sensibilities and values.   Patricians do well if you are a Kennedy or a Roosevelt but that model may be broken.  Over Achieving Smart Guys lose (Carter, Romney). Obama was the experiment in Political Correctness and Hip with the good fortune to run against candidates who were already half Democrats. Can Hillary win on being just Politically Correct but very unhip?  Hillary does not do middle class  well.
     So, reciprocal affection would drive us to middle class sensibility, likeable and neutralizing the PC factor. A woman governor with from a non Ivy League background who can both kill and cook dinner as well as embrace Hayek.

    • #1
  2. user_5186 Inactive
    user_5186
    @LarryKoler

    Numbers 3 (Desirable characteristics of personality and appearance) and 10 (Opportunities to be alone together) will not be overcome unless you address the issue of the media.

    3 – You cannot get someone to fall in love with you if someone else is running you down. The only defense for this is a good offense, which you, Rob, don’t want to contemplate. Andrew Breitbart understood this — few others do.
    10 – The media will not allow us to be alone with the voters.

    Also, do people really think that Republicans don’t like the voters? Isn’t that a left-wing meme? I agree about Reagan, Clinton and Bush 43 and would add Bush 41, too, that they genuinely liked America and Americans. But, so do most Republicans. It’s the Dems who have to lie to the American middle to get them to vote for them.

    • #2
  3. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    Excuse me while I whip this witty banter out.   Make people laugh (at the democrats).   Furthermore, promise jobs and no corruption(this means lying but that’s what dating is about eh?).

    • #3
  4. Casey Member
    Casey
    @Casey

    Be mysterious means not hitting everyone over the head with bar graphs.  It means not revealing every last detail of every plan and giving people a reason not to vote for you.  It means the answer to every stupid boxers or briefs question is a wink and a smile.

    • #4
  5. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Casey:

    Be mysterious means not hitting everyone over the head with bar graphs. It means not revealing every last detail of every plan and giving people a reason not to vote for you. It means the answer to every stupid boxers or briefs question is a wink and a smile.

    It’s the same answer for “Would you save Vladimir Putin if he was drowning?” question, by the way. 

    • #5
  6. user_189393 Inactive
    user_189393
    @BarkhaHerman

    I’ll take a don’t piss us off by expanding government, being a crony capitalist etc.

    • #6
  7. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Rob Long: But the one I find the most compelling is this: ”Reciprocal affection.” Actually have an affection for the voter.

     Now, the paragraph went in a different direction, but the first thing I thought of his how much the Washington Republican élites seem to hate Tea-Party types.  There is no affection there, and we’re supposedly on the same team.

    • #7
  8. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    It ain’t that difficult. Think brand loyalty and alcohol advertising. You gotta catch ’em when They’re young:

    Scene: [Fade In] Typical, modern looking, young 18 year old male opening the curtain and slowly entering a voting booth [nervous], closing the curtain behind Him.

    He eyes His choices between:
    John Doe [D]
    Jane Doe [I]
    John Deer [G]
    Jane Deer [C]
    Max Power [R]

    He deeply inhales, slowly and nervously picks Max Power [R], slowly exhales with eyes closed and a smile on His face. Turns and opens the curtain and…..

    He’s at a beach with scores of hot women in bikinis, kegs, bottles, and cans of BEER, monster trucks, barbecues of beef and beef barbecues, rock and roll and roll and rock, Friends pick Him up on Their shoulders and everyone chants His name while everyone chants, “G! O! P! G! O! P!”

    [Fade out]

    It’s gotta work or the BEER companies wouldn’t have  been doing it all these years.

    • #8
  9. user_5186 Inactive
    user_5186
    @LarryKoler

    Arahant:

    Rob Long: But the one I find the most compelling is this: ”Reciprocal affection.” Actually have an affection for the voter.

    Now, the paragraph went in a different direction, but the first thing I thought of his how much the Washington Republican élites seem to hate Tea-Party types. There is no affection there, and we’re supposedly on the same team.

     This is true. Affection is not the right word there. But, basic American values? Definitely there is love for these.
    The Tea Parties represent an unknown and new variable in their electoral equations. Also, the people in the Tea Parties are anti-incumbent by instinct. The elites viscerally blanch when this gets clear in town hall meetings. 
    Tea Partiers need to learn that you go to war with the army you have not the one you want.
    I think Milton Friedman was right when he said that we, as voters, should make being conservative (or libertarian) easier — then they will go with the herd. Culling the herd should only start after we have a large enough herd to be able to sustain the losses without losing control of the country.

    • #9
  10. user_105642 Member
    user_105642
    @DavidFoster

    “That’s one thing we can say about Barack Obama: he doesn’t like us very much”…clearly true, and it’s interesting/disturbing that more people couldn’t intuitively discern this.

    There’s also the question of why Obama wanted to be President of a country he didn’t much like. In my post he’s just not that into us, I suggested two alternative analogies: the analogy of the hostile-takeover CEO, and the analogy of the fortune-hunting would-be husband in a 19th century English novel.

    • #10
  11. user_5186 Inactive
    user_5186
    @LarryKoler

    david foster:

    “That’s one thing we can say about Barack Obama: he doesn’t like us very much”…clearly true, and it’s interesting/disturbing that more people couldn’t intuitively discern this.

    There’s also the question of why Obama wanted to be President of a country he didn’t much like. In my post he’s just not that into us, I suggested two alternative analogies: the analogy of the hostile-takeover CEO, and the analogy of the fortune-hunting would-be husband in a 19th century English novel.

     Yes, he is anti-American. Absolutely true. He reminds me of the smart person in a small town who has to balance the books or chair a meeting because no one else is remotely capable. He doesn’t like living in that town but he doesn’t see any way to get out of it and there’s no place else to go. Look at his dismissal of Bill Clinton in his caving into the Republicans (as he saw it) after the 1994 election. 
    I really think that it will surprise us when he charts his own course after his 8 years of servitude. Paris? Cairo? Dubai? Where?

    • #11
  12. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    Interesting. I tend to support candidates who don’t fit most of those criteria, because the ones who do creep me out hella big: I know I’m being played. 

    The old question: would you like to have a beer with this person? Well, I’d like to have five with Newt, because you know after three you’d be talking about moon bases and after four you’d be drawing plans on cocktail napkins. I never felt warmth towards Romney, but thought he was an utterly decent man who was smart, reasonable, and loved the country for the same reasons I did. It’s not about falling in love so much as choosing a roommate. Totally different criteria.

    Not to dismiss abstract qualities: my favorite 2016 candidate is still Rick Perry, the Thinking Man’s George Bush. It’s the Texan aspect, so far removed from the Cylons of the Beltway and the unaccented hopefuls who traipse the circuit saying the proper things.

    • #12
  13. Nathaniel Wright Member
    Nathaniel Wright
    @NathanielWright

    Some research suggests that it isn’t the independent voter that you want at all. What you want are the defectors, people who will leave due to a wedge issue. “Anti-Iraq” conservatives for example, or Reagan Democrats as another.

    • #13
  14. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    James Lileks: Interesting. I tend to support candidates who don’t fit most of those criteria, because the ones who do creep me out hella big: I know I’m being played.

     Amen, brother!  To all of your post, but especially this.  I know of a few “spiritual leaders” out there that make me feel this way, too.

    • #14
  15. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Larry Koler: Tea Partiers need to learn that you go to war with the army you have not the one you want.

     Yeah, but we’ve got the French army.  Is it too much to ask for an American one?

    • #15
  16. user_517406 Inactive
    user_517406
    @MerinaSmith

    How do you make people love you?  Tell jokes and stories.  Be a happy warrior who has the answers to the nation’s problems.  That said, my favorite is Scott Walker, who doesn’t seem like a jokes-n-stories type of guy.  But he’s successfully weathered a lot of storms on the level of hurricanes, and he is the opposite of Obama, which is going to be a plus.

    • #16
  17. Casey Member
    Casey
    @Casey

    James Lileks:

    Not to dismiss abstract qualities: my favorite 2016 candidate is still Rick Perry, the Thinking Man’s George Bush.

    Dear Lord, James! Seriously? I bet he runs fast for a catcher too.

    • #17
  18. user_105642 Member
    user_105642
    @DavidFoster

    James Lileks…”It’s not about falling in love so much as choosing a roommate.”   Those who want to “fall in love,” politically-speaking, are probably those who are either trying to fill a hole in their soul (politics as faux religion or substitute for human connection) or are in a real state of panic about the immediate future and are looking for a charismatic leader on whom to unload the burden of uncertaintly.

    • #18
  19. user_105642 Member
    user_105642
    @DavidFoster

    Re politics and the Hole in the Soul, interesting observation from Sebastian Haffner, who grew up in Germany between the wars.  When the political/economic situation stabilized under the Stresemann chancellorship, the resulting “return to private life” was not to everybody’s taste:

    A generation of young Germans had become accustomed to having the entire content of their lives delivered gratis, so to speak, by the public sphere, all the raw material for their deeper emotions…Now that these deliveries suddently ceased, people were left helpless, impoverished, robbed, and disappointed. They had never learned how to live from within themselves, how to make an ordinary private life great, beautiful and worth while, how to enjoy it and make it interesting. So they regarded the end of political tension and the return of private liberty not as a gift, but as a deprivation. They were bored, their minds strayed to silly thoughts, and they began to sulk.  It was at this time that, invisibly and unnoticed, the Germans divided into those who later became Nazis and those who would remain non-Nazis.

    LINK

    • #19
  20. user_86050 Inactive
    user_86050
    @KCMulville

    I’m reminded of the old line about sincerity … once you can fake it, you have it made.

    These items on the list are all qualities after-the-fact. Reagan succeeded because he liked people. But it would be silly for some current and aspiring candidate to look at that list and say, “I’d better start liking people.” Look, you either like them already (in which case you won’t need this list) or you don’t (in which case you don’t belong in the first place). So the list is  only useful after the fact. In other words, it’s useful to explain why Reagan was successful, but you can’t use it to help make someone who doesn’t have these qualities naturally suddenly pretend to acquire them and then succeed. Doesn’t work that way.

    • #20
  21. JimGoneWild Coolidge
    JimGoneWild
    @JimGoneWild

    James Lileks: The old question: would you like to have a beer with this person? Well, I’d like to have five with Newt, because you know after three you’d be talking about moon bases and after four you’d be drawing plans on cocktail napkins.

     James, I don’t recall you drinking beer on the Norway cruise.

    • #21
  22. Casey Member
    Casey
    @Casey

    KC Mulville:

     it’s useful to explain why Reagan was successful, but you can’t use it to help make someone who doesn’t have these qualities naturally suddenly pretend to acquire them and then succeed. Doesn’t work that way.

    But I think the point is for us to be on the lookout for people with these qualities rather than falling for someone like… I dunno… off the top of my head… Rick Perry.

    • #22
  23. user_51254 Member
    user_51254
    @BereketKelile

    I heard a very interesting presentation about something related to this at a conference for political consultants earlier this month. It was by a Dr. Darren Schreiber and he was giving us a primer on “neuropolitics.” The field uses neuroscience and applies it to politics. He said you’re on the fence until you’re about 18 years old. Between 18 and 85 we begin to move towards the right or left, crystallizing our partisan affiliation as time passes. I tried asking him how you can get someone to move from one pole to the other but he didn’t really have an answer for me. My guess is that you need a profound experience or someone with a lot of charisma to persuade you. And I guess that brings us to your point, Rob.

    • #23
  24. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    Reading this list and these comments make me regret even more the one that got away – Mitch Daniels. I know the MSM would have crucified his wife, and I don’t blame him for not running, but when I look at the traits and personality tics and flaws of all our current contenders [Rick Perry? please…] compared to what he could have brought to the table I’m very depressed.

    • #24
  25. Jim_K Inactive
    Jim_K
    @PlatosRetweet

    I haven’t dated since Reagan’s first term, but as I recall the big turn-offs were religious fanaticism, an aversion to sexuality, humorlessness, and sheer stupidity.

    That ought to narrow down the field.

    • #25

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