Republicans Rant, Kerry Conciliates: By BECKY O'MALLEY

Friday September 03, 2004

Watching the Republican Convention on television is like picking at a scab. You know it’s a mistake, you know it will only make things worse, but it’s hard not to do it, albeit obsessively and secretly. It’s a metaphor-generating experience, because it’s almost impossible to describe the horror and disgust provoked in the person of ordinary sensibility using straightforward descriptive language. -more-

The Undecided Decide: By BECKY O'MALLEY

Tuesday August 31, 2004

Louis Menand has a critical essay in the latest New Yorker which vamps off a thesis in a 1964 book by Philip Converse, The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics: Only about 10 percent of the public has what might be called a political belief system. Menand reports Converse’s interpretation of surveys of the 1956 electorate as showing that voters are perfectly capable of holding conflicting opinions simultaneously, for example wanting both lower taxes and more government programs. Such studies of voter behavior are increasingly rehashed as contemporary polls seem to show the country poised on a knife edge between presidential candidates. Very few voters are still undecided, so how this few will make up their minds is consuming a lot of ink these days. One of our correspondents has suggested that people who haven’t made up their minds yet should be disqualified, presumably as too dumb to vote, and that’s an appealing idea, but it won’t happen. Pundits continue to speculate on what will change the hearts and minds of the remaining voters. -more-

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