Sunday, September 9, 2012

Democrats and the power of "you"

Every salesperson knows the secret. Every sloganeer. Every parent. It’s the power of the second person, the motivating allure of the word “you.”

President Obama and the Democrats know it as well, and are using that power to rhetorically crush the Republicans.

Romney and Ryan are in a fever over the federal deficit—that abstract thing waaaaay out there that no one can see or even imagine—while Obama and Biden want to give you a lower rate on your student loan.

Romney and Ryan are determined to control immigration and secure borders—which few people ever encounter except when seen on a map. Obama and Biden tell Latinos with questionable documentation that your kids born here will never be kicked out.

The Republicans cry out for free enterprise and upward mobility and education reform. The Democrats address GM workers (we saved your jobs) and poor people (we’ll get the rich to pay more for your benefits) and public school teachers (we fight for you).

By my count, Romney’s acceptance speech (about 4000 words) had 64 you’s and your’s in it. Obama’s speech (about 4800 words) had more than 90 you’s and your’s.

Any way you construe it, the Democrats excel in harnessing the power of the second person. Vote for us and you will soon benefit.

That’s why Brandsinger predicts (we speak of ourselves in the third person or the first plural) that Romney will lose the election. Republicans have failed to frame their arguments in the second person, while Democrats masterfully make their case by promising the moon to you the people.



Jay Livingston said...

I know you don't care much for data, but FWIW:

about that promise: mentions of the word moon
GOP - 3
Dem - 3

the phrase the people
GOP - 35
Dem - 34

the word you
GOP - 939
Dem - 1023

the word we
GOP - 1290
Dem - 1584

As for predictions, the betting at Intrade has been on Obama since January (i.e., several months pre-you.

I thought the most interesting word was citizenship in its non-immigration meaning. Obama did mention it once (“we also believe in something called citizenship -- citizenship, a word at the very heart of our founding, a word at the very essence of our democracy, the idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations . . . “

I would guess that in its origin, citizenship is a republican ideal. But these days, neither side usually has much to say about it.

brandsinger said...

Thanks for looking in and commenting, Jay. I'm all for gathering and analyzing data. I just don't believe that having "data" equals "knowing the truth," which many social scientists self-deceivingly believe.

As for Obama's victory, I sensed that it was inevitable long ago -- given the combination of Romney's weakness as a leader and the Democrats' shameless appeal to fear, envy and suspicion between the races. These tactics tend to prevail in human history, sad to say.

Obama will easily prevail in the debates, in that he is smart, slippery and charming. Romney is as charming as a pedestrian foot bridge.


Thomas said...

As a voting Republican, and former independent, I just had to chime in to give my two cents worth.

Obama is a great speaker and motivator, that's for certain. But even with your assessment of how Obama and the Democrats can successfully use the words "you" and "your" to frame their speeches, I'd like to think the voting public can see past this and vote their conscience on who truly can help the financial mess this country has gotten into.

The race card is over played, and I for one am sick of being called a racist simply for voting for who I felt was the better candidate based on experience and past performance...which had nothing to do with race.

Obama is more like the cool slick talking salesman who promises the sun and moon, but only delivers false hope. Romney is more like the stern father figure who tells it like it is, and teaches us that fun and games aside, to fix something you have to work hard and make sacrifices. Why punish someone for working hard and becoming a success?

Nearly 4 years into his presidency, Obama still blames Bush for everything, but wasn't Obama elected president because he promised to fix it? And looking back at history, the financial meltdown started in the last year of Clinton's presidency, and Bush inherited Clinton's **give a mortgage loan to everyone no matter if they can afford it or even try to pay it back** ideals. Like it or not, owning a home is a responsibility that not everyone is capable of handling. So when that house of cards came tumbling down, Bush caught the brunt of it.

All things aside, I feel that people have finally woken up to Obama and his false promises and slick talking ways. People are more divided now then they were in 2008, the middle class has shrunk and many have joined the ranks of the poor, and unemployment has stayed above 8% since he was elected. That number is really much higher when you count those who have given up, or others who are underemployed. The president may not directly effect jobs and job growth, but his policies do play a huge part in it.

To quote Ronald Reagan, which can be used to describe Obama's promises: "To sit back hoping that someday, someway, someone will make things right is to go on feeding the crocodile, hoping he will eat you last--but eat you he will."

I predict a Romney victory this November.

brandsinger said...

Thanks for your comment, Thomas.
We focus on brand image and communications here -- not straight political debate.

Setting aside ideology and policy, my view is that Obama will win by virtue of his compelling promises and the emotional clarity of the case he is making. Romney, meanwhile, (to paraphrase Letterman) comes across as a guy who gives seminars on condo-flipping.

Be cool.


Thomas said...

Yes, I guess I did sort of go off on a political rant there. And I have to agree that Romney needs to work on his brand image if he hopes to win this election. I'm sure we'll learn more from both sides during the debates.

All political differences aside, keep up the great work!