Feature: Election 2012

Just How Superficial are American Voters? You'd be Surprised

Author: M F
Published: April 25, 2012 at 6:18 am

With Romney sweeping 5 states in the Northeastern primaries, and the 2012 Presidential Election fast approaching, there was only so long that I could avoid writing the inevitable political post... but don't fear, I won't be ranting about policies, political promises or even campaign ads. Instead I want to focus on a much more personal question: How superficial are you when it comes to voting?

I know your initial reaction will be, "Not at all! I stay informed on the issues and make my decision solely based on if I agree with the candidate's stances," and for some of you that might actually be true, but for the rest of us, it's sadly not.

Let's be honest, life is busy. We have work to do, bills to pay, places to be and people to meet, who has time to watch every debate or follow every candidate? Chances are, unless you're a journalist following the race for your job, you're not as informed as you think you are; or you only start paying attention once the candidates for each party are chosen and the field is narrowed down to two (in which case you probably already have an easy choice because your ingrain political bias will lean you towards one candidate).

This is the sad truth in America: we are granted an amazing opportunity to choose our leaders, and we don't put much time or effort into it (some of us don't put any at all). In general, the American people tend to rely on much more superficial methods to select their candidate of choice.

Don't act like this is a shock, we all know about the infamous Kennedy-Nixon debate of 1960, the first televised debate where, as the story goes, those who watched it on TV thought Kennedy won and those who listened on the radio thought Nixon won; the classic first media case of content vs. appearance.

The habit of superficial attributes influencing how we make important political decisions has only become more clear over time with research since that first debate. For example, when was the last time you saw a Presidential candidate with facial hair? Or any politician with a mustache or beard? Hard to recall? Nearly all are clean shaven because voters don't trust a candidate with facial hair, we feel the candidate must be hiding something.

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