"I mean, come on, they must think you're stupid."
- Barack Obama, Terre Haute, Indiana, 9/6/08
A new focus group of likely voters who will have a dramatic impact on the election was identified over the weekend by Presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D), Illinois. It is clear from recent polls that Republican candidate Senator John McCain (R) Arizona is not only aware of this demographic as well, but is way ahead in courting their votes.
Our analysis of the race for the "stupid vote" (Stupid Americans, or SAs as they are known among pollsters) shows that, so far, McCain has keyed in on their most significant issues and made addressing them a top priority. Surveys have shown that many SAs feel it is important for a president to have spent a lot of time in a box-like structure and, between these two candidates, it is unlikely that Obama can overcome his inexperience in this arena. Many SAs express particular interest in electing someone who not only has had this type of experience, but who is willing to remind them over and over again that he has this type of experience, since they overwhelmingly say that they never get tired of hearing it.
It is clear as well that McCain has a firm grip on SAs who are also disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters. He was quick to note that Senator Clinton (D), New York, was a woman, or female. This is a trait shared by many of these SAs and McCain wasted no time in capitalizing on his discovery. When he pointed this out during a televised campaign ad, his numbers among female SAs spiked. Obama has sputtered within this group, incorrectly believing they would come into his camp based simply on ideology.
It is becoming evident from recent polls that ideology, or issues, carries little sway with SAs. SAs seem drawn to specific words, rather than issues, and McCain is pulling away from Obama in this battle. Often called a "maverick", McCain is alone in his mastery of the ability to use a single word to encapsulate ideas that would otherwise seem pointless and irrelevant. While it is true that Republicans have for years made use of this tactic, up to now the scope of their efforts have been wrapped up in relatively few individual words, i.e. liberal. When he named an obscure, inexperienced governor, Sarah Palin (R), Alaska, to be his running mate, he quickly endowed her with the equivalent of a lifetime of credibility simply by noting that that she had "executive" experience, due to her twenty one months as governor of her home state.
On the topic of Palin's qualifications for the office of Vice President, a large number of SAs took comfort in learning that she was a moose hunter. This kind of experience has been a glaring omission in Vice Presidential resumes for many years, and several respondents called to our attention the fact that she is an executive moose hunter, owing to her time spent hunting moose as governor. When told recently that Obama had been the president of the Harvard Law Review, one SA scoffed, "One college? Sarah Palin went to six colleges!" What's not clear at this point is whether Obama can convince SAs that being president of the Harvard Law Review qualifies as executive experience and, if he can, will spending some time in a box further his shot at the Presidency? The Obama campaign is being silent for now, although an aide close to the senator was recently observed inquiring about monthly rates at a self storage facility near the Chicago home of Obama. It may be too little, too late for the freshman from Illinois but, needless to say, we will be watching for any further developments.