• I swore I wasn’t going to comment on the election, but…


    … I found this article and gasped as I read this:

    The GOP was blindsided Tuesday, but also revealed. The Democrats’ ground organization was beyond anything they’d imagined, pulling in new voters with stunning effectiveness. It exposed a major weakness in the Republican approach to winning elections, practically and intellectually.

    Practically and intellectually? Seriously?

    “I don’t think anyone on our side understood or comprehended how good their turnout was going to be,” said Henry Barbour, a Republican committee man from Mississippi. “The Democrats do voter registration like a factory, like a business, and Republicans tend to leave it to the blue hairs.”

    I’ve written advertising for around a decade. Marketing 101 states: prospects NEVER make a buying decision based on logic. Every buying decision is based on emotion, although the prospect will use logic to justify that purchasing decision.

    In other words, if I, as an ad writer, can trigger an emotion in my reader, I can more easily persuade them into my way of thinking and (hopefully) influence their buying decisions. If, after I’ve got their emotions triggered (fear and greed are the two most powerful emotions persuaders like to use), I can offer “solid” evidence to back up my claim… I’ve basically snagged a new customer.

    If the GOP felt they should appeal to intellect to influence voters (they evidently didn’t influence enough people to win the election), they were making a newbie error and people of that calibre usually do not make newbie errors… unless there’s a change in demographics/the target audience they haven’t noticed.

    “Frankly, the fastest-growing demographic in America isn’t going to vote for a party that sounds like that party hates brown people,” Erickson said.

    This is a lesson we can carry into the skeptical community: understand your audience. Address what’s important to them. Appealing to intellect, as enticing (and tidy) as that sounds, will not persuade anyone. As abhorrent as many in this community seem to think the appeal to emotions is, it appears as if the most direct route to the brain is through the heart… the emotions of your audience.

    So, have the GOP leaders caught the message?

    However, the day after was not all self-reflection for those on the right. Some struck a far more combative tone.

    “We are in a war. We’re in a war to save this nation,” said Michael Needham, chief executive of Heritage Action, an arm of the conservative Washington think tank, The Heritage Foundation.

    Needham spoke in a direct-to-camera video as martial-sounding music swelled in the background. Persuasion as a political strategy did not appear to be on his mind.

    Sigh. I hope the skeptical community does a better job at understanding our target audience and how we can best present our message to them.

    Appealing to the emotions while providing solid evidence seems to be the strongest combination to persuasion. Now, all we need to do is to learn how to effectively communicate our message in that way. If the GOP can screw it up and be this disconnected from the general population, anybody can.

    Here’s the link.

    Category: My Opinion


    Article by: Beth Erickson

    I'm Beth Ann Erickson, a freelance writer, publisher, and skeptic. I live in Central Minnesota with my husband, son, and two rescue pups. Life is flippin' good. :)


    1. I believe skeptics can reach out to minority groups. There are plenty of bogus claims targeting racial minorities disproportionately, from the 47% “moochers” to “war on drugs” resulting in mass incarceration of minorities to crackdowns on suspected illegal immigrants (guided by skin color, of course) “being only about the law”, to persistent de facto segregation despite claims that it no longer exists. Skeptics should be the first ones pointing out the thin veil of racism. But we have been slow in doing so. I am not sure why.

      1. I don’t know either. But WOW… if we can start being skeptical about those issuesl… I hardly dare imagine a world where people are skeptical of claims, joyously think for themselves, don’t fall for every idiotic phrase a person in power utters… Sigh. I think I’ll go outside and chase a few rainbows while pondering the possibilities.

        1. Save me a unicorn if you catch a few. 😉

          NCNC has an interesting point. I wonder if we could meet with legislators and make an emotional appeal, then back it up with logic for our position.

          Instead of abortion being about women’s rights and choice, maybe present it as all the lives saved because a medically necessary abortion was used and all the lives lost because it wasn’t used.

          Same thing for the other issues. I’ll have to think about one for the GMO crowd.

          Hmmm… it bears thinking upon.

          1. You bet it does! And from an ad writer’s standpoint, you’re definitely on the right track.

            No unicorns today, smelled a skunk, though. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll have better luck.

            1. While I haven’t seen any unicorns yet, I assume it’s always to trust anything you see in print, right?

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