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A few things to ponder

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2013

* As I told you earlier, Senate President John Cullerton visited Quincy this week, which is in Sen. John Sullivan’s district

Sullivan and Cullerton described the differences between their Senate districts to the QU students. Sullivan has the largest geographic district in the state Senate with about 6,000 square miles in it. Cullerton’s district is one of the smallest, with about eight square miles, including Wrigley Field.

Both men have about 220,000 residents in their districts.

Sullivan’s district is larger than three US States - Connecticut (5,543 square miles), Delaware (2,489 square miles) and Rhode Island (1,545 square miles).

Bruce Rauner’s proposed term limit constitutional amendment would also reduce the number of state Senate districts, so Sullivan’s turf would get much larger.

* Speaking of Bruce Rauner, Jack Craver at The Capital Times up in Madison, Wisconsin has some interesting thoughts on how Rauner’s campaign looks a lot like a familiar one to cheeseheads

(T)he frontrunner for the Illinois Republican gubernatorial nomination is trying his best to mimic the regular guy persona that [Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker] used in his first campaign for governor in 2010. Remember the brown bag lunch, the old Saturn and the Harley?

Here’s an excerpt from candidate Bruce Rauner’s official campaign bio: “He still drives a 20-year-old camper van, wears an $18 watch, and stays in the cheapest hotel room he can find when he’s on the road. He is the proud father of six children — two boys and four girls — and his wife Diana is the love of his life. He hunts birds, hikes, loves riding his Harley, and jumps at every opportunity to fish.” […]

Rauner’s campaign manager is Chip Englander, who was in charge of former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann’s unsuccessful bid for Wisconsin’s Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2010. Neumann, the multimillionaire who touted his executive business experience and his master’s degree, lost to Walker, the college dropout who claimed to pack two ham-and-cheese sandwiches (with mayo on wheat) in a brown bag for lunch every day.

Englander may have learned the hard way that the regular-guy persona works.

In addition, Rauner’s communications director is Mike Schrimpf, the twin brother of Chris Schrimpf, a former Walker flack. Until recently, Mike was a spokesman for the Republican Governors Association, a group that poured millions of dollars into boosting both of Walker’s gubernatorial campaigns.

* And Maria Konnikova has an interesting story in the New Yorker about how the way politicians look can correlate into the votes they get. A smallish excerpt here, so go read the whole thing because there is a lot more to this

In 2003, the Princeton psychologist Alexander Todorov began to suspect that, except for those people who have hard-core political beliefs, the reasons we vote for particular candidates could have less to do with politics and more to do with basic cognitive processes—in particular, perception. When people are asked about their ideal leader, one of the single most important characteristics that they say they look for is competence—how qualified and capable a candidate is. Todorov wondered whether that judgment was made on the basis of intuitive responses to basic facial features rather than on any deep, rational calculus. It would make sense: in the past, extensive research has shown just how quickly we form impressions of people’s character traits, even before we’ve had a conversation with them. That impression then colors whatever else we learn about them, from their hobbies to, presumably, their political abilities. In other words, when we think that we are making rational political judgments, we could be, in fact, judging someone at least partly based on a fleeting impression of his or her face.

Starting that fall, and through the following spring, Todorov showed pairs of portraits to roughly a thousand people, and asked them to rate the competence of each person. Unbeknownst to the test subjects, they were looking at candidates for the House and Senate in 2000, 2002, and 2004. In study after study, participants’ responses to the question of whether someone looked competent predicted actual election outcomes at a rate much higher than chance—from sixty-six to seventy-three per cent of the time. Even looking at the faces for as little as one second, Todorov found, yielded the exact same result: a snap judgment that generally identified the winners and losers. Todorov concluded that when we make what we think of as well-reasoned voting decisions, we are actually driven in part by our initial, instinctive reactions to candidates.

Again, go read the whole thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - OneMan - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 2:34 pm:

    Wonder how long until (if it isn’t happening already) campaigns start testing different looks and see how the score vs a generic and/or specific other candidate?

  2. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 2:39 pm:

    Walker could sell the small-town preacher’s son of modest means bit because it was true.

    Where’s Farmer Bruce spending the holidays? Penthouse on Central Park? Mansion in Key Largo? One of the ranches…..

  3. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 2:43 pm:

    OneMan, snark intended here more or less, but I wonder how Blago passed the “look” test.

  4. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 2:51 pm:

    There is a bottom line to all this;

    Sooner or later, and later may be the General, or it could be sooner if a 3rd party starts getting “involved”, but even Bruce Rauner will have to atone for “Bruce Rauner” and have to “own” (you can go ‘pun’ if you want on many levels, your choice) the Fake-ness and that might be the biggest hurdle but also the most important one too.

  5. - capncrunch - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 3:03 pm:

    “..except for those people who have hard-core political beliefs,..”

    In our polarized society, does this study imply that folks who call themselves independent are swayed by ‘good looks’?

  6. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 3:30 pm:

    I haven’t read the whole thing yet, but good for anyone who writes an article related to politics and campaigns that begins with “psychologist…began to suspect that….”

    It should make people stop, think, consider, and determine whether they want or need to view how “progressive” and “effective” campaign consultants may have become–and then whether perceptions may need to be adjusted accordingly before falling for all the marketing crap.

  7. - Cook County Commoner - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 3:33 pm:

    M. Konikova’s article posits that “unthinking judgement” and “thin slice judgement” by voters may explain many election results. I suspect that those concepts apply equally well to elected officials. Maybe that explains American democracy. The unthinking, uncaring voters elect unthinking, uncaring leaders.

  8. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 3:34 pm:

    =OneMan, snark intended here more or less, but I wonder how Blago passed the “look” test. =

    I know. His eyes were much too close together. Andy McKenna must have been right. It must have been the Elvis hair. But then Andy McKenna’s ads also seem to prove that people did not like to be reminded in such a crass way.

    (Just a little Friday nerd humor.)

  9. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 3:37 pm:

    Come to think of it. Jack Ryan had a more than perfect face, except his eyes were a bit close together, too. So are Mark Kirk’s.

    I’m going to have to think about that because that seems to go against popular wisdom.

    Unless, of course, people are trying to find imperfection in what they’re being told is “perfect.”


  10. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 3:39 pm:

    === people are trying to find imperfection in what they’re being told is “perfect.” ===

    I think you had taken my advice and read the article before commenting, you wouldn’t have made that comment.

  11. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 3:42 pm:

    I can always learn, reaffirm, and even recklessly deny if I so choose after reading the article.

  12. - walkinfool - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 3:52 pm:

    Bruce: your previous guys were doing just fine. Adding the out-of-towners just because they come with the big money, could backfire on you.

    They will be good at national talking points, but remain clueless about what voters in Illinois want discussed. Schrimpf just proved me correct with his comments on pensions.

  13. - zatoichi - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 4:02 pm:

    Very similar to the Kennedy/Nixon debates discussion. Article shows how that first impression sets an opinion (Which may be all that is needed to get elected), but does not talk about correlation to actual performance. The great looking candidate who keeps getting elected, but never really does anything, compared to the mutt who has many positive accomplishments. Think I have seen that movie.

  14. - Endangered Moderate Species - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 4:03 pm:

    The televised Kennedy / Nixon debates also support this theory.

    Based on content, many felt, Nixon won the debates; but based on polling Kennedy clearly was the winner because he appeared to be more competent and likable.

  15. - flea - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 4:07 pm:

    All I can think of right now is Mayor Ford.

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