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Emotion outweighs reason as America votes

Last updated on: November 06, 2012 20:47 IST

American voters are very emotional when it comes to casting their ballot. Very similar to how we Indians are, writes Bikash Mohapatra

The only way we can change Washington is by changing the leaders there. We need a new generation of leaders," declared Ohio Republican Senate candidate Josh Mandel, a very emotional appeal by an excited 35-year-old old.

Considering the age factor the statement might not make the desired impact, one may think.

Think again!

For Mandel, who at the start of the year had been dismissed as a kid and stood no chance against his experienced Democrat opponent (Sen. Sherrod Brown) has made a strong comeback and is now running neck and neck with his competitor, with a huge chance of causing an upset.

A campaign based on age, enthusiasm and emotion has done the trick.

It might come in as a shocker to most but the American voters are very emotional when it comes to casting their ballot. Very similar to how we Indians are.

It need not be said here that a lot of Indian voters have a blinkered vision and their final decision is a manifestation of seemingly trivial things like caste, religion, region et al. The fact that the other candidate might be better doesn't quite ring a bell. No wonder why our politicians love to have an emotional control over their vote bank and take advantage of their naivety. Or shall we say ignorance?

In fact, the latter holds true for voters here in America.  Most of them aren't exactly aware of the political ramifications but cast their votes based on various factors, save their own decision.

It is imperative here to note that Americans, unlike Indians, do vote albeit not necessarily to the candidate of their choice, simply because they themselves aren't capable of making that choice.

"A lot of Americans vote as an emotional reaction," explains analyst Ted Campbell.

"No voter likes everything about a particular candidate. So his vote is a manifestation of his mental state and how he is influenced," he adds.

Michael Gutierrez, a young Republican, offers an interesting perspective. He says the American voters have paid a heavy price because of such emotional bursts.

"That's why we are where we are today," he says.

"Most of the voters aren't capable of making a decision themselves and as such are influenced by their family and friends when they cast their vote.

"Had the voters understood the value of their votes and cast it accordingly, this country wouldn't have faced the problems it is facing."

There's another facet to this 'emotional' aspect.  People affiliated to a particular party tend to be loyal towards their candidates. The young voters in this case vote simply because they have been told by their parents, who happen to be hard core loyalists, to vote for this party.

"Republicans generally vote," explains analyst Joe Frolik.

"If you are registered Republican voter, it is expected that you go out and vote. Simple," he continues, adding, "They are the party with more registered voters."

"Democrats are usually sporadic voters. But they really push people to vote in the last minute. So they generally get the iffy, and undecided, people," says Frolik.

Considering the state America finds itself in at the moment, emotion might as well outweigh reason even as the country goes in to vote. The Republicans, as such, stand to benefit from the anti-incumbency factor in a manner the Democrats did four years back.

"Since the economic recession in on the upswing, their anger is towards the government," explains analyst Susan McManus.

"Many blame Washington for its failure to come up with a concrete plan. And the Republicans might just benefit from the cynical mood prevalent in the country," she adds.

Strategist Seth McKee offers a counterpoint.

"Obama's visit to New Jersey in the aftermath of Sandy might as well do the trick for him," he avers.

"Imagine a Democratic President and a Republican Governor getting together. It's a masterstroke," he adds.

Whatever be the outcome of these elections, emotions will play a crucial role in deciding the same. And when emotions do outweigh reason the outcome is not exactly the right one.

American voters might as well take a clue from their Indian counterparts.
Bikash Mohapatra in Ohio