THE MOOD OF THE PEOPLE AND THE AMERICAN WAY
October 26, 2015
Election slogans, debates, road-side posters, town meetings, media adds...these are all part of an election campaign scenario. During a campaign, the voters are encouraged to vote for particular candidates and to support particular issues. Morning coffee groups are enlivened with political dialogue. Voting outcomes are often moved by the mood of the people. And this is the American way.
By voting, we add our voice to the chorus of ideas and decisions concerning our democracy... locally, regionally and nationally. Voting is the expression of our commitment to ourselves, to one another, to our community and to this great Country of ours. Each voter can vote her or his own conscience. And, that too, is the American way.
True, we are living during complex times nationally and internationally; but, voting is one way we can help to resolve the many uncertainties and issues facing us as a free people. In times of uncertainty and anxiety, there are many factors which seem to impact the decision as to how a voter casts his or her election ballot. Research indicates that the mood of voters seems to be a strong contributing factor as to how voters cast their ballot. This is true in local, regional, and national elections.
The emotions of sentiment and mood are powerful. They have to do with trust or distrust, happiness or disgust, like or dislike; and, often these emotions impact as to how a person feels about something or somebody. Interestingly, research has also shown that there is a negative bias in how people vote, meaning that they are more likely to be influenced by what they do not like about a candidate or a party than what they like about them. Years of study on this, political scientist Jon Krosnick at Stanford University has shown that if you like two candidates equally, there is little motivation to go out and vote for either one of them. But, when you dislike one of them, that is when you become a very engaged voter. Further, research indicates that if the voter likes least... one of the two candidates... then the voter is motivated to participate. So, in other words, it seems that disliking the candidate or the circumstances, the voter is particularly motivated to vote.
This now leads us to where we stand today. American voters seem to be less than happy with the circumstances we face today. This feeling seems to be played out by the topsy-turvy 2016 presidential campaign and the surge of support for anti-establishment candidates. This seemingly vexing mood of the electorate can be seen in the latest Wall Street/NBC News poll, as well as other polls.
Various national polls indicate: 62% of Americans think the country is off on the wrong track and not moving in the right direction. The polls also found that 80% of Americans were angry about the political system, anxious about the economy, concerned about national security, and leery about internal safety conditions for themselves and their children. To be sure, for many these are "trying" times.
There are recent polls that found health-care costs top the list of concerns. That was followed by the national debt and high government spending. Twenty percent said that unemployment was the top problem, and the same percentage cited illegal immigration. Yet there was clear divergence based on age in the responses. Younger Americans were much more likely to cite unemployment as the most pressing concern, while older people picked health-care costs and government spending, along with political gridlock.
The following, is just one example of contributing to the anxiousness of the American public. In leading polls, jobs was a major concern. Recently, the September jobs report was grim. Employer added a mere 142,000 jobs in September, casting a shadow on the nation's economy. The Labor Department described the situation as "dreadful" "a body blow" and "grim". Adding to the gloom, the agency revised August's employment numbers sharply downward\, showing that only 136,000 jobs were created which is well below the 173,000 originally estimated. The two consecutive weak reports pointed to a loss of momentum for the U.S. economy over the 2015 summer months. "There is just nothing good in the latest Labor report" said Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust in Chicago. The current "jobs" situation, along with health care costs, national security , the rapid growth in the national debt, and homeland security, all seem to be contributing to voter anxiety.
Truly, these are not the worst of times, but they are far from the best of times when it comes to Americans' perceptions as to how things are going in this Country. And the mood of the voters can very well impact an election. Time will tell. By voting... we have a way to express ourselves. Thankfully, this is the American way.