The High Road to the White House: Why It Works

Today a couple of interesting data points came together on why taking the high road to the White House (inspiring voters with principle) is more likely to result in victory than the low road ("going negative").

First, from a recent Pew poll (here):

For Obama, one of the most striking positives in the survey is the
extent to which his supporters in the general election test say they
are voting for him rather than against McCain. Fully
three-quarters of Obama supporters view their vote as being for Obama,
while just 22% characterize their vote as anti-McCain. Four years ago,
John Kerry’s support was more anti-Bush (50%) than affirmative support
for Kerry (43%). Of McCain supporters, 64% say their vote is for him,
while 32% say it is a vote against Obama.

Obama has a clear advantage over McCain on several
major issues. In particular, voters say the Illinois Democrat could do
better in improving economic conditions, dealing with the nation’s
energy problems, and improving the healthcare system.

Second, a column by veteran politico Al Hunt, on the same topic (here):

Hope Over Fear

Overall, there is something else axiomatic about American
presidential politics: Hope or optimism, when conveyed
effectively, trump fear and despair. Every candidate offers a
steady diet of negative stuff about what a disaster his
opponent would be. Sometimes, when the opposition is flawed,
that’s sufficient — the Nixon landslide of 1972, for example.   
      

Usually, however, in big elections like those of Franklin
Roosevelt
and Reagan or small-ball ones like those of Bill
Clinton and George W. Bush, the victor is the one who seizes
the high road and offers a hopeful vision of where to lead the
country, capturing the can-do American spirit.   

That’s a terrible dilemma for McCain, 71, who, by nature,
is a can-do political figure. His only real hope of winning,
saddled as he is by his old adversary Bush, is fear; scaring
voters about Obama’s inexperience, or his associations or the
threat of terrorism.    
      

Obama, an Illinois senator, has to counter these charges
and convince voters he’s ready and resolute. If he can do that,
as he basically did against Hillary Clinton‘s formidable
challenge in the primaries, dial that expectations clock up
from a close win to a comfortable one.

And finally, a word of wisdom from a former Hillary supporter, via the LA Times (here) about how women for Hillary are lining up to now support Obama:

Authenreith, who was a respondent to a Times poll in February, said
there was no question now that Obama would better handle the economy
and, she hoped, overhaul the healthcare system.   

"I know if I vote a Republican in," she said, "it will never happen."

Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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