Explaining November

I want to start posting some items that will help people understand the upcoming election and predicted route of the Democrats.   It won’t be all apologia, I assure you.

Later I’ll do a Civics 101 post (turns out they take more time to write than I have.) on how the electorate differs from the public more broadly.  Voters are older, Whiter, richer, etc. than the public as a whole, especially in low-turnout elections like this one .  That difference alone does more to explain what’s going to happen in November than anything else except the trashed economy (incumbents ALWAYS getted creamed in recessions, no matter what).

In the meantime, there was an amazing article in the Boston Globe yesterday about a topic near and dear to this group’s heart and that sheds light on November, too.  Written by a social psychologist, it argues that facts don’t really matter to voters much at all when those facts contradict what they already believe!.  In fact, the opposite is true.  Hearing facts that challenge their beliefs tends to cause people to dig in their opinionated heels even more.  Excerpt:

“Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. It’s this: Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.”

…And rather than facts driving beliefs, our beliefs can dictate the facts we chose to accept. They can cause us to twist facts so they fit better with our preconceived notions. Worst of all, they can lead us to uncritically accept bad information just because it reinforces our beliefs. This reinforcement makes us more confident we’re right, and even less likely to listen to any new information. And then we vote.”

The whole, depressing thing is here.


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