Maybe in a different year 8% of the people being undecided about who to vote
for in a presidential election wouldn't be a big deal.
But Rasmussen's latest numbers look like this:
That 8% looms large.
If the Bush campaign plans on winning this thing, they better start concentrating on those undecided voters. Right now, the Bush ads sing to the choir. They are talking to people who already understand, follow and probably donate to the Bush campaign.
The 8% of available voters out there are somewhat different than undecided voters in other elections. The 2004 election seems larger than life simply because we are at war. We are at war in Iraq and we are fighting the war against terrorism. These are the issues that are being addressed every day, in every newspaper, on every talk radio station, on every news channel. We are bombarded with images, sound bites and story upon story and we get it from all sides; war, anti-war, conservative, liberal and everything in between.
So who are these undecided voters and why haven't they decided yet, given all the information available to them?
They are, of course, the fence sitters and there two different kinds of people that sit on that fence.
The first kind - we'll call him Type A- could be swayed to jump off the fence with just a slight push. Even a small breeze could tilt them off to one side. This person is easily swayed by imagery and sound bites; they need no facts, they don't do any research on their own. Words and pictures are presented to them and they take them as fact because they are too lazy or unknowledgeable or gullible to do the work on their own. They want someone to make all their choices for them, so they just sit on the fence and wait to be told what to do. You know this type. They believe all the chain mail they receive. They are often talked into buying things they don't need.
These are the people that F911 will sucker in. They will be dragged to the movie by well meaning friends and relatives and they will gasp in all the right parts and come out of the theater believing that George Bush is the devil and Michael Moore is a god, and they most likely will take that to the voting booth with them in November.
Notice something missing there? Why, it's John Kerry! Here, we have a voter who is being swayed against
a candidate rather than towards
a candidate. This voter, who just minutes ago was sitting on that fence, is now standing on the ground where he believes the grass is greener, even though that grass is maybe just painted green. Ask this voter why the other side of the fence is so bad and he'll reiterate everything he just saw and heard. Ask him why the grass is so green on his side and he will only be able to say because it's not the other side.
The problem with the Type A fence sitter is that she is fickle. Anything can change her mind. Perhaps one week after seeing F911, she goes out to lunch with a friend who is a staunch Republican. By dessert, the friend has convinced her that Bush is a god and Michael Moore is the devil. Now, she wants to hop onto the other side, because she's sure the grass is just a shade greener over there.
And so it will go with Type A until the election. Who gets her vote depends on who she last spoke to before she headed into the booth. It makes no sense to go after their vote. You will never be assured of it, anyhow.
The people the Bush campaign should
be going after is the Type B fence sitter. This guy needs to be pushed or dragged off the fence. He wants fact and figures, not flashy films or staged press conferences. He gets his news from fifteen different sources. He reads, he digests, he thinks. And right now, he hates both sides.
He thinks Bush isn't great with the economy and Kerry isn't great with security. He knows he has to make a decision and it's not going to be Nader. He's not going to be swayed by a negative campaign ad because he already knows
what he doesn't
like about each candidate. And he's going to wait as long as possible to make his decision.
This is the guy Bush needs to talk to. This is who the Bush ads should speak to. Not the fence sitter who changes his mind every ten seconds, depending on who he's having lunch with. Not the fence sitter who can be pushed over the wall by a small touch. He doesn't need to speak to Humpty Dumpty.
No, he needs to speak to the guy whose butt is so firmly placed on that wall that it may as well be glued down. The Bush campaign staff needs to find a way to dissolve that glue and get him over the fence.
The thing is, this guy is not going to listen if this
is what you're saying. And he's certainly not going to be swayed by this:
[click for larger image]
That's a screenshot of the official Bush campaign site.
I see Kerry's name at least four times. I see his face three times. I see six points of negativity towards Kerry.
This is a big turnoff for Fence Sitter Type B. This is not going to win him over. The campaign site speaks to those already on the campaign trail. If Bush wants to win over this guy, he needs to choose positive over negative. His campaign staff should be emphasizing Bush's qualitites instead of Kerry's detriments.
Like I said, Type B isn't swayed by images or sound bites, but he can be turned away
by too many of those things if they are all negative. I think the Bush campaign is speaking to the wrong people. They are speaking to those who already made up their minds. They should regroup, focus on that 8% and the focus even more on those in the 8% undecided group that make up the Type B voters. They have got to sell Bush as a someone to follow over to the other side of the fence rather than selling Kerry as someone to run away from.
So far, this looks like it will be a very close election. If the Bush people don't start focusing on the fence sitters, they're all going to be trampling on Kerry's grass come November. These people feel alone and they need someone to cling to. By concentrating on Kerry's negative aspects, Bush and his staff are making this yet another lesser of two evils election. The Type B guy wants a
leader, not a lesser devil.