The Czar despises trendy phrases to describe concepts in psychology or sociology. He still does not use “sound bite,” for example and that phrase is older than many of our readers. However, he is inclined to think there is merit to the phrase “low information voter.”
The term was largely established by Samuel Popkin in 1991 in a political science book; however, his original term was low information signaling: giving off perceptions or clues about who you are that individually mean very little but can add up to a big marketing problem. Only later did others apply it to individuals and voters. Interestingly, the term is used as an insult by conservatives and liberals alike as a way to explain why people vote the way they do.
In some respects, this usage is incorrect. A person does not vote Democratic or Republican because he or she is stupid; the concept is that people vote one way or another for the strangest reasons.
This past summer, the Czar encountered an individual who confessed she voted for Barack Obama in 2008 because he was handsome. And that Mrs. Obama and he make a gorgeous couple. Great. This is how people buy shoes, but not select presidents. See? Very little useful information about his then-predicted presidency, but enough for her to cast a vote.
Since November, the Czar—and many other conservative figures—have quietly begun watching the people who voted for Barack Obama in 2012. It has been interesting.
Among many on the Right, there is a perception that Barack Obama won a huge majority over Mitt Romney, and that most of the country just wants to sit back and collect welfare and fall apart like Europe. Certainly, that was a natural reaction and probably a good one, because the pollsters took note.
And the polls continuously suggest that most Americans want smaller government, want spending reduced, and want very conservative things for the country.
How then do you explain the voting from the voters?
First, both sides must remember that Obama’s electoral win was big, but his popular victory was very small. That is of little consolation, but basically means that he has none of the mandate he is deluding himself about in his speeches and tough-guy posturing he offers lately.
Secondly, and most importantly, the answer between the voters’s expectations and the election results can now be explained: the average Obama voter has no idea who he is.
Surprised? Us, too. But despite the hours of adulation offered each day by the news media, the lifetimes of commercials about him (good and bad) from the respective parties, and the millions of megabytes being written about him on the web, folks just do not know who Barack Obama is.
You hear this in interview after interview: people who still see him as some bizarre bipartisan ideal—the way he was presented in 2008. During the Inauguration’s mandatory vox populi pieces, attendees were excited to see the President re-Inaugurated because he is such a glamorous figure, because they like healthcare, and because he is important to history.
All three of these things are true; but not one of them stated they favor his liberalism, his big government spending, his hatred and demonization of the successful or of Republicans, and his extra-Constitutional activities. And this is because they likely know nothing about it.
Recently, on the Glenn Beck show, individuals were selected at random and asked to identify who uttered specific quotes. The callers were asked to conceal their political preference; however, all the quotes were by President Obama. Not a single caller, to our observation, had any idea who said the quotes.
And there is a major problem and the complete explanation.
51% of the country voted for Barack Obama; probably only 21% knows anything about him.
Of course, this goes both ways: the Czar likely suspects the same 30% remainder of voters knew little or less about Mitt Romney, too. They certainly did not know, as polls strongly suggest, that they shared Mitt Romney’s views on government and the economy.
The bottom line is this: there is a growing call that the Republicans need to stop talking about themselves, and start talking about their conservative values. We need to get voters to associate Republicans with things they actually want, rather than try to get them to love a particular candidate.
Because the candidates aren’t doing the job of selling themselves. Their arguments and positions clearly aren’t important to 30% of the voters.
The Czar has long maintained that there are no independent voters; he also believes that swing voters are a myth.
Indeed, this seems to be true. The coveted 30% of voters are independents or swings: they are low information voters who select presidents like they select shoes. And that’s a big problem.