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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Election insight given in lecture

    Jon Krosnick, associate director for the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences at Stanford University, did his best to answer what drives the public political attitude at McClelland Hall last night.

    “”He’s an expert in survey methods. With particular applications … to public opinion polling,”” said Paul Portney, dean of the Eller College. “”(You) can’t pick up a newspaper or turn on your television or radio, at this time of year without hearing news about public opinion polls relating to the up coming election.””

    Krosnick said he wanted to give some insight into the research that political psychologists do.

    Although Krosnick’s talk was titled, “”How do Americans Voters Decide: Findings from 50 years of Scholarship on Electoral Choice,”” he decided it would be more interesting to talk about the next 50 days rather than the last 50 years.

    Krosnick’s focus was on a survey project funded by Yahoo.com and with collaboration between The Associated Press and Stanford.

    He explained that in a usual election, approval of the current administration and the economy will usually decide which party stays in power. He said these models predict the current power won’t stay in office. And based on those assumptions, they predicted at 90 percent that Barack Obama would win.

    But he said we all know a 90 percent probability is not the case. Obama has a lead by a smaller margin than the forecasting model anticipated.

    “”So what’s going on here?”” he asked the well-mixed crowd of students and community members.

    That was the question Krosnick said he wanted to tackle.

    He shared some possible explanations as to why Obama is not doing as well as initially predicted. He asked if McCain’s greater experience in government or his military tenure played a part. He also wondered if McCain had more exposure or appeared to be more bi-partisan than Obama. Was the difference the candidate’s perceived integrity or potential first ladies? Or is it racism? These were all questions raised by Krosnick.

    His topic then turned to understanding how our subconscious influences our opinions.

    “”What our brain crunches subconsciously goes unnoticed and that racism may be an issue for some without them knowing it,”” Krosnick said.

    Although he said people were much more unconsciously prejudice, some of the big items that influenced voters were familiarity, integrity, competence and the first lady.

    “”(This lecture) is very topical, because it’s about voter polling. And as we’re coming up on the election time it’s of particular interest … to everyone,”” said Liz Warren-Pederson, the marketing and communication manager for Eller College Management.

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