Expect McCain to "Prime" the Russian Bear


Rewind 1992: Bush's public approval shifted as the public turned its attention from war to the economy.

As tensions with a newly aggressive Russia escalate, the return of America's Cold War enemy heavily favors McCain's election chances. Here's the reason: The issues that are most salient in voters minds are often the issues by which they are most likely to judge candidates. Political psychologists call this process "priming." The classic example of this priming effect at work was George H.W. Bush's approval ratings during the later half of his presidency (graph above, stu-dies). During the first Gulf War with national security as the salient issue, President Bush was evaluated chiefly based on these terms. Yet as soon as the war was over, media attention turned sharply to focus on the faltering economy, and as this issue took precedent in voters' minds, his approval ratings plummeted.

In 2008, given their respective backgrounds, if the economy remains the overwhelmingly dominant issue, then the interpretative playing field favors Obama. If national security becomes salient, then things shift strongly in favor of McCain. Yet it gets potentially even more one-sided for McCain. The Arizona Senator has even figured out a way to turn the saliency of the economy in his favor, successfully redefining the economy as about gas prices (solution=drilling) rather than housing foreclosures, jobs, and the credit crisis.

On the McCain front, expect themes of strength and experience to pick up in his television ads and campaign rhetoric, with the campaign likely pulling off the shelf battle tested Cold War metaphors.

Indeed these strategies helped propel both the candidacy of Ronald Reagan as well as that of George W. Bush in 2004. See below the now classic advertisement from 1984 using the metaphor of a "bear in the woods" to emphasize with voters the need for a strong leader to take on the Soviet Union. Also see a similar strategy used in the second ad below from 2004, with the metaphor of "wolves in the woods" used to signify the need for a strong leader in the face of a terrorist threat.






LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

10 books to check out from Jordan Peterson's 'Great Books' list

The Canadian professor has an extensive collection posted on his site.

Jordan Peterson with Carl Jung and the cover art of Jaak Panksepp's 'Affective Neuroscience' (Image: Chris Williamson/Getty Images/Big Think)
Personal Growth
  • Peterson's Great Books list features classics by Orwell, Jung, Huxley, and Dostoevsky.
  • Categories include literature, neuroscience, religion, and systems analysis.
  • Having recently left Patreon for "freedom of speech" reasons, Peterson is taking direct donations through Paypal (and Bitcoin).
Keep reading Show less

Scientists claim the Bible is written in code that predicts future events

The controversy around the Torah codes gets a new life.

Michael Drosnin
Surprising Science
  • Mathematicians claim to see a predictive pattern in the ancient Torah texts.
  • The code is revealed by a method found with special computer software.
  • Some events described by reading the code took place after the code was written.
Keep reading Show less

Should you invest in China's stock market? Know this one thing first.

Despite incredible economic growth, it is not necessarily an investor's paradise.

Videos
  • China's stock market is just 27 years old. It's economy has grown 30x over that time.
  • Imagine if you had invested early and gotten in on the ground floor.
  • Actually, you would have lost money. Here's how that's possible.