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Mullings by Rich Galen
A Political Cyber-Column By Rich Galen
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Votes, Cars & East German Judges

Rich Galen

Monday October 18, 2004

  • I think I have this right: Newt Gingrich - for whom I served as press secretary when he was House Republican Whip and later as communications director of his political office when he was Speaker - shared a theory about the way people vote.
    Americans vote the way men buy cars.

  • Here's the way it works. Men, when they decide they need a new car, will go to look at anything which can cross a large stream or small river, like a Hummer; anything with a name plate which ends with an "I," as in Ferrari or Maserati; anything with a top which goes down by pressing a button; and anything which permits the salesman to use the word "torque."

  • The ritual generally involves a man standing in an automobile showroom, with arms akimbo, staring intently at the engine under an open hood (unless he is looking at a British car in which case he pretends that he always refers to the hood as the "bonnet"), listening intently to a discussion of the importance of where the Fetzer valve has been place in the 2005 model while nodding sagely and saying knowledgably, "Hmm."

  • Men do this when they are in the early stages of buying a car.

  • As the moment that the car has to actually be purchased gets closer, he narrows his choices and admits to himself that neither a Hummer nor a Maserati are really in the running, but he still might be able to convince his wife that the convertible is an excellent idea.

  • When he actually has to write the check, however, he drives out of the dealership with the Cadillac of minivans - an Oldsmobile Silhouette, because that's the vehicle which makes sense for his family.

  • When it doesn't matter who people are going to vote for they tell each other and pollsters anything. There were actually people, a year ago, who said they would vote for the Cadillac of military goofballs, Wesley Clark for President.

  • Speaking, as we were, of Fetzer valves the best example is, of course, Howard Dean. When it didn't matter, Howard Dean was going to be the nominee of the Democratic Party. As soon as it did matter - beginning with the Iowa caucuses - Democrats realized that Dean was the political equivalent of a combination car and airplane.

  • Interesting to muse about, but doesn't make much sense in real life.

  • This theory is useful in considering why, notwithstanding the national press corps' unanimous decision that John Kerry won all three debates and therefore should be President of the United States and the school thespian society, likely voters are swinging back to President Bush.

  • Two polls released yesterday - the ABC News/Washington Post and the CNN/USA Today polls - had the President ahead by four and eight points respectively. Two other polls had the President up by two. Only one - by the Democracy Corps - had Kerry ahead.

  • The way to look at polls this late in the cycle is to think about them like we used to consider the scores for Olympic figure skaters: First you throw out whatever score the East German judge posts because you know he's lying. Then you toss out the highest and the lowest of the rest. Whatever is left over is probably correct.

  • In this case the Democracy Corps poll must have sampled everyone attending a cocktail party at the National Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association monthly meeting. Think: East German Figure Skating Judge.

  • John Kerry has not led in more than one poll since the end of his convention in July. That was July. The breathless reporting of Kerry surging has reflected the changes in the lead which President Bush has enjoyed; not a change in who is holding the lead.

  • When America goes to vote 15 days hence, they will vote for the man who is right for their families: George W. Bush.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Fetzer valves, Oldsmobile Silhouettes, a Mullfoto of my new toy and a great Catchy Caption of the Day.

    --END --
    Copyright © 2004 Richard A. Galen


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