I hate this point in the election cycle. We measure every point in the polls in response to big shows like the conventions and (less so) the debates, and responses to economic indicators, external events (both substantial and not), and media narratives of all sorts.
I grant that there are thoughtful moderates and centrists, conscientiously engaged citizens who resist the way the two parties carve up the issues between them. Fiscal conservatives who resist the fanatic narrowness and hypocritical parsing of Freedom and Liberty often grit their teeth and vote for democrats. Social conservatives who have a well developed understanding of the necessary interplay of the private and public sectors, who care about poverty and the opportunity promised by public education and our duty to invest in our future often wince as they pull the GOP lever. And there are those who simply resist deciding which way to compromise their principles and weigh signs of competence and potential in the candidates. But they are the minority.
Let’s face it. Most swing voters aren’t independent thinkers or sincere centrists. They are reality television addicts. Most people who switch their vote based on a convention acceptance speech, or a sigh in a debate, or a scary headline, or who Brian Williams thinks has the electoral advantage, are shallow idiots who commit little attention to what is at stake. And most of the last 2 months of the election cycle is spent wooing them. If you marry a guy that offers you the biggest bouquet of flowers, drives the flashiest car, takes you to the classiest restaurant, has the better eyes, cheekbones, and abs, you’re probably gonna cheat on him with someone else with other “optics” when you get bored.
I really think these people suck. And our future lies in their hands. Great that they showed up after the convention came off well. Now we wait for them to wander off and hope enough of them are lazy enough to stay (the ones who ‘harden’ as voting day gets closer).
But that’s representative democracy for you. It’s why I still hold on to that mystified belief that liberal arts education can produce a more critically engaged and civil electorate. That’s my dogma. At least I admit that it’s such. Although, an Assistant Professor at MSU just released a study that uses neuroscience (MRI) to prove that critical study of Jane Austen really does make people smarter:
I’m not surprised. Reading and discussing Austen always made me FEEL smarter. But I still don’t think we have anyway of knowing how this affects citizenship.