The Third Person Candidate

There has been some talk among bloggers lately about why the Dean campaign has floundered or failed. Assumed within these arguments is that the favored candidate of the (relatively small) blogging world somehow did or didn’t do something to get knocked off the top of the hill. This is a natural assumption, since, although there have certainly been Kerry supporters all along, he is a difficult candidate to like.

I believe that even those who are voting for Kerry may not like him. Twenty years ago Davidson identified a common thread among many people’s perceptions of media effects. Of course, television commercials didn’t influence them, but they certainly influenced others. The same was true of media violence and various other media content. This so-called “third person effect” (“not us, but them”) seems prominent in Kerry’s rise. “Electability” can really be disassembled into “Who can we get that they will vote for.” This is the natural result of the ABB (Anybody But Bush) sentiment. I will vote not for the candidate I think would best represent me, but for the candidate I think everybody else will be willing to vote for. It is the ultimate anti-elitist position. Many among the Volvo-driving, latte-drinking, New-York-Times-reading, pierced, etc. (i.e., my social group), are actually buying into the hype that Dean is an elitist rather than a populist candidate.

But here’s the rub. What if that “third person” doesn’t really exist after all? The election is all about the undecideds–what if primary voters have grossly misunderestimated :) the average undecided voter? What then?

Bush for four more years.

Doesn’t sound good, does it? But better get used to the idea. While Dean might have been the little-d-democratic wing of the Democratic party, Kerry is Big-D-Democratic all the way. Will this pull the swing voters? I sincerely doubt it.

Maybe it is time for a move to Canada. I can say that because it’s only about a 20 minute commute, traffic-willing.

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  1. Posted 2/6/2004 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Uh, it is not much better over here in Canada – trust me. We are facing a big swing to the right as well….Paul Martin hopfeully won’t be elected for PM. Maybe Sweden is a better option? Oh wait, that is more than a 20 minute commute :)

  2. ebrahim
    Posted 1/27/2005 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    this subject is very good b ut I need more information about it

2 Trackbacks

  1. By linkage on 2/6/2004 at 5:28 pm
    =-” href=””>-=The Third Person Candidate…

  2. By Alex Halavais » Not my candidate on 10/9/2004 at 3:05 pm

    […] years? The real problem is that, as I’ve noted before, Kerry was put forward as a third person candidate: no, we may not agree with him on the issues, but he is “electable&#82 […]

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