This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
see incumbents with low job approval but high favor- able ratings and ballot support—voters in those circum- stances are not making decisions based on facts about performance. Affect heuristic also helps partly explain the error some campaigns and consultants make of fixating on name ID; positive affect will correlate with name ID and a misguided casual observation of races where voters were applying an affect heuristic would lead to the con- clusion that name ID translated to votes.

Single Factor Heuristic: When using a single factor heuristic a voter makes a decision based on which candi- date is best on a single factor. Often this is a specific issue but it can also be a trait such as experience or hometown. Voters may employ this heuristic in a variety of ways. Some may screen candidates by rejecting candidates that fail the single factor test and then apply another heuristic to decide among acceptable candidates. Others may have

The Washington Post endorsement of Creigh Deeds in the Virginia Democratic primary for governor was an excel- lent case study of how some voters applied an authority heuristic based on an assumption that the Post must be knowledgeable about Democratic politics. While there are many other heuristics that may be ap-

plied by voters in crowded primaries, these offer insights into how voter behavior can be studied. In addition to knowing the types of heuristics a voter

may use, it is critical for a campaign researcher to un- derstand that heuristics are situational behaviors rather than stable types. The mistake of assuming that there are voter types—single-issue voters, endorsement voters and ideological voters, for example—is almost as dangerous as the assumption that all voters are either fully rational or fully ignorant. In fact, this misunderstanding of the situ- ational nature of decision-making is so widespread and so misleading, that it has its own name—it is called the

Some campaigns think of voters as mindlessly shuffling into the booth.

a mental factor hierarchy by which they test candidates on a variety of factors one at a time until they have re- jected all but one candidate. Another way that some vot- ers use this heuristic is to use the most obvious difference between two candidates as a single decision factor.

Ideology Heuristic: A heuristic somewhat related to the single factor heuristics is what political scientists refer to as an ideology heuristic. When voters use this heuristic they choose the candidate they perceive as closest to them ideologically and vote for that candidate. The important thing to understand about this heuristic is that voters are not making judgments about candidate ideology based on a thorough assessment of specific issue positions—the campaign that worries “How can they think he’s conser- vative? He voted for/against issue X!” is misunderstand- ing how voters employ this heuristic. When voters use an ideology heuristic they are relying on an impression of candidate ideology based on a variety of cues rather than making an issue-based assessment.

Authority or Liking Heuristic (Endorsements):

Voters can use endorsements as a heuristic as well. These can be an authority heuristic when the opinions of peo- ple or entities whom voters perceive as in charge or pos- sessing special knowledge about the race are used as a heuristic. Endorsements can also serve as a liking heuris- tic when the endorsement of a figure who a voter is posi- tively disposed towards is used to reach a positive judg- ment about the endorsed candidate. The recent case of

fundamental attribution error. The truth is that the same voter who makes a decision using a single factor today may apply an ideology heu- ristic in a different election, or even in the same election if the situation changes. Voters apply heuristics to make their decision easier—to pick a satisfactory candidate with the minimum information gathering and cognitive effort—they may switch from applying one heuristic to another if information becomes available that makes one easier than another to apply. Understanding voter heuristics is an invaluable addition to a campaign. The first task in developing a message and strategy for any campaign should be to answer the question,“How are voters going to make their decision in this election?” Too of- ten campaigns and consultants make implicit, or occasionally explicit, assumptions about voter decision-making that simply don’t reflect a modern understanding of bounded rationality and the situational heuristics that voters will really be applying to their decision in an election. Good research designed to identify and monitor the

heuristics voters are using to make their choice coupled with an understanding of how to develop and implement strategies and messages tailored to those heuristics can give any campaign a substantial and winning advantage on Election Day.

Chris Wilson is the founder and chief executive officer of Wilson Research Strategies, a Republican polling firm based in Washington, D.C. Bryon Allen is the chief operations officer for Wilson Res earch.

March 2010 | Politics 19 Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69
Produced with Yudu -