The 2 Camps Voters Tend to Fall In

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I’m keenly interested in learning more about what drives people to vote — namely, so we all can do more of that to drive what I hope is historic turnout in November.

As I was reading this weekend, I came across an interesting essay by Prof. Jon Krosnick, an expert on the psychology of political behaviors, about the two camps that voters fall into when they are choosing which candidate to vote for:

The first type of voter chooses the candidate who most closely aligns with their vision of what the government should do.

The second type of voter chooses the candidate they believe is the most intelligent and capable of solving problems.

As I was thinking about these two types of voters, I started to think about how I might talk to each type of voter and appeal to their style of decision-making to encourage them to vote for candidates I care about.

What about you? How would knowing this information change the way you approached someone?

Allow me to think out loud for a moment. When I first approach a voter, I might ask the question, “What issues do you care most about?” to see if they quickly answer the question with specific policy issues, and can talk about them to some degree. If I find this type of voter, I would work to quickly point out my preferred candidate’s policy stances on those issues the voter cares about and try to demonstrate that they are aligned.

If the voter doesn’t have specific policies they care about, but have more generalized concerns such as wanting a strong economy, or better jobs, etc. then that might indicate that they fall into the second camp. They want smart, strong leadership. With these voters, approval ratings (if the candidate is an incumbent) or proof of success or their ability to get things done could be important.

Again, those are my early thoughts. I’d be curious to hear from you. How might this information affect how you talk about your favorite candidates either in person, or perhaps on social media?

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2 replies

  1. What would be ideal would be a 2 camps plus 1 approach. 2 camps is already very either or, and talking points have already been designed to shut out other kinds of info (to some degree). I noticed Teri Kane’s post looking at talking to the sorts of folks who bring guns and no masks to protests to open the government talked about the brain wiring that is affected by typical GOP messaging (more camp 2, but not necessarily “smart”). She took some typical comments like “you’re trying to take away my freedom” or “your wearing a mask is fearmongering” and rather than going with the duality, she identified it and then ADDED a pivot. EG: Fighting the virus doesn’t mean you are losing your liberty, it means you are fighting for your country” or “I’m wearing the mask to protect you. No one is making you harass me for that.”

    • Her post was great. This is why writers who understand framing are so important. If you can, do check out George Lakoff’s work. Being able to connect the dots in a different way for voters is such a great skill to have, and one I’d like to get much better at.

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