Tuesday, June 29, 2004
F9/11: What Political Impact?
Since posting the 9/11 Fahrenheit Presidential Indicator, I've been thinking about what actual political impact the film might have (if any).
In light of some of the comments and private criticisms -- including a few people I respect who termed it "the worst idea you've come up with to date" -- I've been mulling this over for a few days. Here are my conclusions
There are 3 audiences Moore may be "speaking" to, each of which could potentially impact the November elections:
1) 50% :
That astounding number is the percentage of eligible voters who didn't think it was worth their time to cast a vote in the 2000 Presidential election. That's right, half of the electorate couldn't be bothered. (So much for Democracy)
Motivating this group -- not just Independents, but Democrats and Liberal Republicans -- could certainly be part of the impact of Moore's polemic.
In the future, whenever you see this statistic, keep in mind that are many Political Scientists and theorists who posit the entire point of negative campaigning is to keep this group at home. (Call it self-disenfranchised by disgust).
If Moore gets 1 out of 10 of these people off their sofas on November 3rd, he will have effectively overcome all the votes Nader received in 2000.
2) Motivating the Base:
While hardcore Democrats are certainly going to be voting in the Fall, the borderline, "lazy" or soft party members could see their fervor wane if the polls start sliding against them. Rank & file Dems simply don't have the same religious fervor GOP partisans do.
The question is how will the party members handle an occasional setback between now and November?
The film would be politically influential -- not if it persuades the centrist or swing voter, but instead if it convinces the 4-6% of Nader voters from 2000 that a vote for Ralph is a vote for the incumbent.
I wasn't thinking in those terms when I wrote this, but considering that Moore was a Nader supporter in 2000, and then backed Wesley Clark in the '04 Democratic primaries, it makes some sense. Of course, that won't show up as part of our 9/11 Fahrenheit indicator thesis, but . . .
Here's a quote from USA Today: "Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist, says the savage portrayal of Bush "could convince some Naderites" of the need to vote for Kerry. Moore, who backed Nader's independent candidacy in 2000, says that's one goal. "I hope to have a significant impact on the 4-6% who now say they're going to vote for Ralph," he says." -'Fahrenheit 9/11': Will it change any voter's mind?
Bottom line -- the film may have an impact on the margins. In a race this tight, a 1 or 2% shift or increased participation can be the markgin of victory -- or defeat.
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