Saturday, November 03, 2012

Do Canada's rightwingers swoon over Policy Wonks, Pretty Faces or Daddy Figures?

Sarah Hampson
We seem to have a conflict between three theories of what motivates conservatives to vote. 

On the one hand, we have the school of thought that says there is a beauty premium reaped by the more beautiful people in life, business and politics.

The second school believes that voters in the US are genetically hardwired to vote for politicians who represent the Mommy values (Democrats) or the Daddy values (Republicans). In this group we find Howard Dean, who believes that US swing voters are split down the middle and are attracted to both the safety net of the Mommy-party and the discipline of the Daddy-party.

The third school is represented by Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Reid Global Affairs, who thinks that Canadian conservatives don't want to be inspired by really settle for someone who can get things done.

I'm with Governor Dean on this matter.

The Beauty Premium:

Sarah Hampson in today's Globe & Mail has an article entitled May the sexiest man win? 

Here are the relevant extracts:

So forget the gender gap for a moment: It’s the beauty gap that governs who becomes winners and losers, not to mention who earns more and has a better chance of getting a more favourable mortgage. Lookism is the new sexism...

Unpopular as it may be to admit – who likes to think of themselves as superficial? – perceptions about candidates are governed by stereotypes that we have subconsciously absorbed...

Even more upsetting (if you’re the sort to believe that the smartest, kindest person should win), an attractive face is all you need to convince people you’re competent as a political candidate, which is one of the most important determinants.

Based on the Beauty Premium theory of political attraction, Justin Trudeau is going to give Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair a heap of trouble in a few months time.

Dullness as a Turn-on for Rightwingers theory:

In Hampson's article, she interviews Bricker:
Darrell Bricker

“The only guys worrying about policies are all the wonks running around the press gallery in Ottawa,” Darrell Bricker, chief executive officer for Ipsos Global Public Affairs, opines over the phone. “They think somehow that being the leader of a party is about passing an IQ test or passing your LSATs. It doesn’t work like that. Particularly on the left, people who are able to inspire, to energize voters, are the ones who win. Why did [voters] love [Barack Obama]? They loved the audacity of change. That works on the left.”

On the right, however, “they don’t care as much about this stuff. They don’t really like politicians – they just want them to be acceptable and capable of doing the job. So that’s why Stephen Harper’s dullness is actually a benefit, a stylistic advantage. People on the right don’t want to be inspired.”

Governor Howard Dean's Inspirational Theory:

That brings us to the Howard Dean theory of how to win: pump up your Daddy or Mommy base voters and let the excitement persuade the split undecideds to vote for your party:
Howard Dean

George Lakoff took a long hard look at Republicans and Democrats down south and came to the conclusion that one can understand American politics better if you realize that the followers of these two parties believe in two different parenting models. Conservatives (Republicans) believe in the Strict Father model of the universe, while Progressives (Democrats) believe in the Nurturing Parent model.

And Dean's prescription for success:

"What you do is crank the heck out of your base, get them really excited and crank up the base turnout and you'll win the middle-of-the-roaders," Dean told US News and World Report. Dean reasoned that since swing voters share the mental model of both parties they will eventually go with whatever party excites them the most. "Democrats appeal to them on their softer side--the safety net--but the Republicans appeal to them on the harder side--the discipline, the responsibility, and so forth. So the question is which side appears to be energetic, deeply believing in its message, deeply committed to bringing a vision of hope to America. That side is the side that gets the swing voters and wins."
George Lakoff

I'm with Dean on this.

Our 2011 election showed a huge whack of swing voters upsetting the apple cart when hundreds of thousands of Quebecers voted for the Jack Layton led NDP.

Recent polls have now shown that a reverse migration will probably take place if Justin Trudeau becomes the leader of the Liberal Party. So far the indicators are that Trudeau will crank up the Liberal base and energize it so much that millions of Canadian swingers will flock to the big tent party, pushing aside the rather earnest Mulcair and the dull Harper.

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