Democracy may be the best political system, but it breeds some weird things. Like picketing for instance. Does picketing actually work? I'm not talking about in little dinky town elections, I mean in high stakes elections. The way I see it, it only has potential to work on two kinds of people. 1) People who weren't going to vote 2) People who are going to vote but don't know who the candidates are.

I suppose the first category could exist. There are plenty of apathetic people who don't care about issues or know about elections, but who will be reminded or inspired or whatever by seeing a sign for a candidate, and, having been exposed to a particular candidate's name first, are more liable to vote that way. Call this the honorary tobacco company strategy, because it's likenable to the way these companies "get 'em while they're young."

The second category is more absurd. It's kind of funny, though, to imagine someone at the polls, looking over their choices saying "Well I've HEARD OF this guy," or voting by process of elimination. Hey, it could happen though.

Explaining that it works through an advertising-like effect doesn't seem convincing to me. I can understand how constant advertising can affect consumer purchases, since these tend to be more impulsive and possibly more unconscious decisions than choosing the president of your country. Seeing positive messages associated with a product on a regular basis can make a person more likely to buy the product in the long run, if you figure that sometimes the buyer will be in a rush, or will be undecided between two brands. But what the manufacturers care about is not individual purchases, but rather the continuous buying habits of consumers over the long term, which may be easier to manipulate. When it comes down to elections, aren't the people who are going to vote going to be informed enough to make these subliminal tricks negligible?

Hey, Kris, I know you don't agree with me because I've already shared this opinion with you. So write a post about it. Come on Kris, you're being out-blogged.

Update: reader Dan believes voters who do not know the names of the major candidates is probably the norm in most states.

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