Understanding attitudes is even more important than demographics

I have loved reading all the technical stuff about the Obama campaign’s databases; my favourite stat is that they polled 30,000 people A DAY for a YEAR in OHIO ALONE. Quite extraordinary. I will dig out some of the links later but Dave’s post on Friday got me thinking.

Yes a lot of the Republicans’ problem is demographic. But taking demography alone into account is not change enough. It would be great to be able to say, we need women and magically identify the one policy that they care about. That though is not how people work.

As I have written time and time again, putting people into little boxes based on their physical identity is pointless. What matters is how they think.

Our voting habits are getting more and more divergent. Look at this graph (from Wikipedia) of parties’ share of the vote since 1950, including others. The more people vote for something other than the party of their parents, or than the party they have traditionally voted for themselves, the more normal that becomes, and the harder traditional parties need to work to be relevant and deliver what they promised:

Related to that, we are becoming more and more consumerist in how we relate to politicians. We expect them to do their jobs, and do them well, otherwise we’ll chuck them out. This is a good thing; but it also means that politicians need to do a much better job of promising and then delivering, and – crucially – making sure that voters know about it.

Something else that political people forget is just how very little voters listen to about politics. Anthony Wells had a fantastic post last week on UK Polling Report:

If you are reading this website in the first place, you are probably a bit of a political anorak. At the very least you are interested in politics. Most people are not, and no matter how little attention you think people pay to political events, you are probably still *vastly* overestimating it.

And related to that, is just how much perception trumps reality. This is from Lord Ashcroft’s most recent work from ConservativeHome:

The most important thing about those final two (fake) occurrences is that they play into peoples’ perceptions of how politicians, and in particular the two parties concerned, behave.

Attitudes are a much much better indicator of how people are going to vote. For example, the key indicator in Ohio was whether or not people supported Obama’s auto bail-out. Until and unless these three areas are addressed (and maybe not even then) there is no point even looking at demography.


This entry was posted in Party Politics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.