Monday, October 20, 2008

The Power of Optimism

Never underestimate the political power of making people feel optimistic. "It's morning in America," was a great slogan, and when times are tough it is vital a candidate make people feel good about themselves, about their country. In the world of what people know, if you can come across as the one hopeful, you have an advantage.

Thus, Obama.

Want numbers? I got your numbers. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll asked respondents: "Regardless of who you may support, who do you think is more optimistic?"
  • McCain 30 percent
  • Obama 62 percent
Ouch, if you're a McCain supporter. Knowing nods if you favor Obama.

Affect is as important as cognition, emotion as much a part of what people know as is breaking down issues and policy stances and projections of what a candidate may do, who that candidate used to pal around with, and all the rest. How a candidate makes us feel, that matters. Reagan did this so well. Clinton too. Obama has that same magic, at least according to the numbers and any objective view of his campaign stump speeches and his debate performances.

But the McCain folks ain't out of this yet. I think their "spread the wealth" socialism tack has some traction. It's a neat line aimed at Obama: "if the beret fits, wear it." Whether they can do enough with that in the next couple of weeks seems unlikely, but if Obama has hit some kind of ceiling effect in certain key states, they may stand a chance of making this closer than it appears.

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