Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Winning the Non-Vote

Daniel Millstone thinks Democrats "need to connect to the non-voters more," if only to secure greater margins of victory in races already being won by turning out, you know, voters. I don't know where this thinking comes from...they don't vote! That's what makes them non-voters!

It may be true, in some abstract, academic sense, that non-voters are "Democratic in tendencies," but who cares: they are also non-voting in tendencies, which means they are of zero importance electorally. It might well be the case that 9 out of 10 anorexic people prefer Skippy peanut butter to Jif...Skippy would still be insane to base their marketing strategy on appealing to anorexics, because anorexics don't eat.

By all means, "connect" away to whomever you wish. But please let it stop at the point where one thin dime or volunteer hour, which could be otherwise spent persuading voters or turning out supporters, is dedicated instead to trying to appeal to people who by definition have no impact on elections.


DU said...

IKTIATB by "connect" he means "convert them to voters". But if they didn't vote in 2008, there's probably no hope for them.

tps12 said...

Of course! That's implicit in Skippy's strategy as well: we already know they prefer our brand...all we need to do is get them to start eating and victory will be ours!

I'm not saying that nobody who didn't vote this year will ever vote and should be given up upon forever.

What I am suggesting is that, for example, take the set of people who were eligible to vote in both 2004 and 2008, but who only voted in 2008. Then my assertion is that there is no "connection" strategy that anyone can formulate, even years after the fact, that reasonably could have gotten those people to the polls back in 2004, had it only been applied.

And if we can't figure out what would have made non-voters vote last time around, then how can we possibly hope to convince likely non-voters to vote next time?

DU said...

Then my assertion is that there is no "connection" strategy that anyone can formulate, even years after the fact, that reasonably could have gotten those people to the polls back in 2004, had it only been applied.

I first read this as an indictment of the time machine industry. But instead you seem to be saying that, no matter what extra thing might have been done in 2004, no other people could have been persuaded to vote? I think I'm missing something because this seems a little fatalistic.

tps12 said...

I'm not saying "no matter what extra thing might have been done," I'm saying that whatever those extra things might be are unknown and un-figure-outable. Or at least, I've never heard anything plausible. I could be wrong!

DU said...

I don't think they are unfigureoutable. They may not even be unknown. They might not even have been unknown at the time. Perhaps the ideal way to get them to vote was already known in 2004 but there were no funds to implement a strategy.

I don't see how looking at non-voters and asking how they can be "connected with" is a bad thing. Obviously you don't want to base your strategy wholly, or even mostly, on the unpredictable. But increasing the margin is good.

tps12 said...

As I said, I've not heard of a reasonable extra thing that might have been done. Enlighten me!

It's a bad thing only in that it's fruitless, and therefore a poor use of resources; my position is really dependent on nobody knowing about any reasonable way to get non-voters to vote. "The unpredictable" would be an improvement: as far as I'm aware, predictions of whether or not someone will vote are highly reliable based even on very limited heuristics.

DU said...

I keep thinking I must be misunderstanding because this is so bizarre. We don't know how to get them to vote, therefore it's impossible and we should just give up?

I've not heard a single reasonable explanation for how human consciousness is realized in the physical brain. I guess it must be God.

tps12 said...

All I mean is that until you have a plausible proposal for what to actually do, "get non-voters to vote" is not a plan -- it's a wish.

As you said initially, "connect" means "convert them to voters." Not a plan!

DU said...

Well, converting is the end goal. What "connect" usually means is "engage in dialog with to figure out what their needs/desires are and to get them engaged".