Appealing to Voters

Quite simplistically, assume that there are two populations of voters:

  • X: A population that can easily be manipulated in terms of values, concerns, perceptions and decisions about consumption, health, education, and votes.
  • Y: A population that reflects on what is knowable, explainable, and predictive, consciously deciding what is believable and the consequences for decision making.

How can one appeal to these two populations?

With effective messaging, one can convince X to buy marginally effective drugs, scam insurance, and timeshare condos, as well as avoid vaccines, embrace censoring of education, and perhaps even vote for white supremacists. This messaging need not result in particular outcomes. It just needs to be compelling.

Y requires believable evidence, which of course requires understanding what affects believability. Data, logic, analysis and records of past successes are key elements of convincing Y to support initiatives. The intellectual credibility of those advocating initiatives is also important.

How might strategies for X and Y interact? This question is particularly important since one cannot know whether particular individuals are in one group or the other. Thus, one would prefer that any strategies do not antagonize either group.

It would seem that a centrist strategy might attract enough Xs and Ys to prevail. Yet, this might lead to minimal support as everybody is disappointed. Of course, a multi-faceted strategy might offer everybody something they want.  This possibility depends on the distance between the centroids of the positions of X and Y. The distance may be so great to stymie any chance of compromise.

Another possibility is to employ completely different channels to reach X and Y. With access to individuals’ social media activities and preferences, ads and other promotions can be tailored to each individual. Thus, the ad segments of each program can be tailored to each viewer. For example, environmentalists will see pro-climate ads while conservatives will see pro-fossil fuel ads.

Political ads will promise exactly what the individual viewer wants. Across all viewers, candidates will be pro and con on everything. The candidates will have no real intentions. They do not intend to deliver anything.  They are just getting each individual voter to buy into the story tailored to them.  Their goal, quite simply, is power.

So, everybody votes for candidates seemingly promising exactly what they want, but those elected renege on all promises. Next, there are two years of mischief, trading votes and patronage for campaign contributions and various boondoggles. Two years later we repeat the same charade.

This is not a recipe for progress.  Nothing happens except selected folks get to feed at the government trough.  Instead, we need to creatively address the realities of populations X and Y.  We need mechanisms that foster imaginative compromises.  That is an agenda for a later post.

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