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November 06, 1960 - Image 12

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1960-11-06
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American Voter and the Political Campaign

The Political Campaign

ill Votes Be Changed
By All the Hoopla?
NAN MARKEL

ABRAHAM LINCOLN refused to
move off his froht porch in the
months before his first election.
William Jennings Bryan per-'
fected the whistlestop, made more
than 600 speeches in three months
while campaigning aganst McKin-
ley in 1900, and lost the election.
Yet, with unwarranted faith in
the loudspeaker and the crowd,
campaigning has marched on -
reaching out this year to more
persons than ever before, no doubt
costing more than the $12 mil-
lion estimated for the two presi-
dential campaigns in 1956.
Kennedy's tight schedule allows
for a night's stay at the Michigan
Union. He admits, "I Just came
here to go to sleep." But the
campaign organization which
brother Bob compares to U.S.
Steel doubts not that there is
NAN MARKLE is a senior
in the literary college and city;
editor of The Daily.

political hay in a 2 a.m. appear-
ance,
THE NIXON men the effect
of the crowd on the crowd
counts so much toward victory
that they key the spontaneity of
a whistlestop Ann- Arbor crowd
with tape - recorded songs and
chants,
Both the presidential candi-
dates, along with many political
commentators, have been basing
1960 campaign analysis on a
scholarly text so abstracted from
campaign excitement that its so-
ciological terminology must make
plodding reading eVen for the
political pros.
Pick up most, any paper and you
see a candidate or commentator
evaluating the election outcome
thus: Democrats are in the ma-
jority and since voters usually go
the party line, the Republicans
are at a basic disadvantage.
The source of this simple analy-
sis and of many more complex
commentaries is a book called

e i

"The American Voter." Its influ-
ence on all connected with cam-
paigning has become more and
more evident as the pre-presiden-
tial months since its publication
last spring have rolled by.
YET THE political pros cannot
recognize one of this bible's
most obvious findings-that the
voters' final decision will not be
much influenced by the millions
of campaign dollars invested in
thousands of miles spotted with
face - to - face candidate - voter
meetings.
Even "the Great Debates" won't
change many votes.
So strong is party identification
alone in determining the electors
final .decisions-and so large is
the majority of Democratic affili-
ates - that University political
scientist Warren E. Miller could
say last spring:
"Unless something comes along
to make Democrats vote Republi-
can, the vote will be Democratic.
The Republicans would have to
utilize issues that aren't apparent
now, or they would have to acquire
a candidate who.has the personal
Continued on Pae Eleven

CONTENTS

Continued from Page Two
attractiveness Ike has, if they
want to win the election."
Miller co-authored "The Ameri-
can Voter," along. with Angus
Campbell, Philip E. Converse and
Donald Stokes, all from the Uni-
versity's Survey Research. Cen-
ter. The data they've analyzed on
the last three presidential elec-
tions indicates that few 1960 bal-
lots will be marked because of
agreement or disagreement with
candidates' stands in this issue-
oriented campaign.
QUEMOY-Matsu and the Uiited
States prestige poll just won't
make much difference to the aver-
age voter. His decision is "not that
of a person who approaches pol-
icy-making with a great deal of
technical information and makes
a rational decision on,these foun-
dations," Miller says.
Most voters are unfamiliar with
specific prominent issues of public
policy, even those questions which
politicians hotly debate between
elections. The professors at the
Survey Research Center have un-
covered many reasons why this is
so.
The public is not intensely ab--
sorbed in political affairs, even
though the excitement of a presi-
dential campaign may encourage
many people to vote. "Political
behavior is peripheral by com-
parison to the day-to-day con-
cerns--the 'private life'-of the
public," they write.
Many voters have a hard time
"conceptualizing"a framework in
which to organize questions of
politics, so they just reject the
information they do receive, or
misinterpret it, or label it all as
confusion.
SOME MAY have coherent views
in one area of public policy,
but only one in 50 has any all-
embracing pattern of belief. One
person can tell an interviewer:
"I don't know much about
either candidate; just so long as
one of them wins it will be all
right."
And a woman who watched
every minute of the 1956 Republi-
can convention on television can
come away without any visible
attitudes about the issues, but be
deeply perplexed that Nixon had
received the vice - presidential
nomination - "He's a foreigner,
isn't he?"
Miller adds, "The things that
filter down to a person are most
often things to which he is al-
ready attuned because of his par-
tisanship."
You'd think, then, that the in-
dependent voters would be the
ones a campaign would sway. But
the ideally independent citizens,
who are attentive to politics and
weigh the rival appeals of a cam-
paign before marking down their
choice for President are rare.

who vote make up their minds be-
fore the campaign starts.
"The American Voter" is stable
above all else.
"We have a very strong sense
of the stability of the electorate
as it moves from one election to
the other," Miller. says. "Each
election does not start from
scratch with the voters on the'
collective edges of their seats
awaiting each political nuance."
Stability comes from the voters'
pervasive party attachments, their
tendency to vote with the party
time after time.
Three out of four Americans say
they're Republicans or Democrats.
If he's typical, a person has picked
out his party early in life-by age
30-at a time when politics wasn't
coming in for a large share of his
personal attention.-
O NCE ESTABLISHED, this iden-
tification is amazingly stable,
and only one out of every five
Americans has changed his party
allegiance during his lifetime. The
proportion of Republicans and
Democrats in the population re-
mained unchanged from 1952 to
1958. Barring a major economic,
military or other national disaster,

"I

party preferences will continue
unchanged for the next short
while.
So it happens that an inter-
viewer will receive answers, which
are not atypical, such as these
from a man in Texas:
Q: What do you like about
the Democrats?
A: Well, I don't know. I've
just always been a Democrat. My
daddy before me always was.
Q: Can you name any good
things that you like about the
party?
A: Well, no, I guess not.
Q: What do you dislike about
Democrats?
A: I don't know of anything.
- Q: Do you like things about
the Republicans?
A: No.
Q: What do you dislike about
the Republicans?
A: Well, I Just don't believe
they are for the common people.
Q: Anything else you don't
like about the Republican party?
A: No, I don't think so.
Abe Lincoln may have played it
smart, sitting out the campaign
on his porch chair.
But Americans have come to
love the election show.

m

U

THE AMERICAN VOTER
By Nan Markel.................. .... .....Page Two
THE CAMPAIGN FOR CONGRESS
By Michael Burns. .. .. .. ........... .Page Three
THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN
By Thomas Kabaker............«..............Page Four
THE SOLID SOUTH
By Michael Harrah. .,...,,..,..............Page Six
THE U.S. AND LATIN AMERICA
By John Roberts .............. ..,....... .. .. Page Five
PHOTO CREDITS: Cover, David Giltrow; page two, Giltrow; page three
top and bottom, Giltrow right, AP; page four, AP; page five,
AP; page six, AP; page seven, Giltrow; page eight, AP; page
nine, top, AP; other, Giltrow; page 10, left, Giltrow; other, AP;
page I], Giltrow.

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After listening to the candid tes and thinking
over the issues, what are the chances of her vot-
ing on them rather than for her party?

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tOST Independents instead
"have poorer knowledge of the
issues, their image of the candi-
dates is fainter, their interest in
the campaign is less, their con-
cern over the outcome is relatively
slight, and their choice between
competing candidates, although
It is indeed made later in the
campaign, seems much less to
spring from discoverable evalua-
tions of the elements of national
politics," according to "The Amer-
ican Voter."
Even if a person is familiar with
an issue, he is still likely to be
confused on how the parties stand
on1 that issue.
He has a hard time connecting
a party's stand with his own con-
viction. His trouble well may stem
from the parties' inadequacies in
presenting clear stands on issues
to the public.
It looks like a campaign based
on "images" might be more suc-
* cessful than a campaign based on
- issues. The public tends to evalu-
ate candidates more as personali-
ties than as spokesmen for a
particular cause, the social scien-
tists say.
BUT "THE man of experience"
(Nixon) and/or the FDR of
the '60's (Kennedy) may have
little effect-anywhere from two-
thirds to truee-quarters of those

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