When closing the curtain in the polling booth in November, what factors will you consider?
Sometimes it's a good gut feeling; maybe it's a family tradition; or perhaps you actually know the issues at stake. Of course, other factors could influence a presidential election, like comedians.
"I don't think they're very effective at making up something that runs against the actual character of the politician, but when they can find something that seems real to voters and exaggerate that, I think that's when the comedic presentation of the person does tend to take on a life of its own."
UW-Madison Political Science Professor Charles Franklin ( pollster.com ) cites an incident where former President Jimmy Carter was "attacked" by a rabbit in a lake, which became a metaphor for what some people called Carter's "hapless, enfeebled" presidency.
"Comedians had a heck of a good time with that, because it resonated with just the problems the Carter presidency had that it couldn't even fend off a rabbit in a lake!"
Franklin says, another example is former President Gerald Ford, who had been a football player at Michigan, but got a bad break.
"Slipped going down the steps of his airplane and tripped on another occasion and the next thing you knew all the jokes were about how Gerry Ford couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time."
We're bombarded with a lot of information, so who has the most power of persuasion over voters casting their ballot? — Liberal Hollywood types donating millions to their candidate of choice; comedians impersonating the politician; the multitudes of pundits and commentators on 24/7 news channels; bloggers with no restrictions on the Internet; or perhaps – maybe – the actual candidate himself?
"Well you'd certainly like to think it's the actual candidates themselves, and I do believe that the candidates themselves in the end drive the message more than all of these peripheral side shows."
One thing that's for sure, Franklin says, when voters receive messages from clearly biased and partisan sources, they tend to discount them. The most effective messages come from someone who does not have an ax to grind. Franklin says that used to be the news media, but now even that is up for debate.
Best advice? Do you homework before November.