Monday, January 28, 2008

Study: Simple answers win elections

Did Fred try to splain too much?


"Low complexity wins elections," said psychologist Lucian Gideon Conway III of the University of Montana at Missoula, who published his analysis of the presidential speeches in the journal Political Psychology. "People like simple answers, and someone saying, 'I don't have all the answers and here are five possibilities' is a hard sell compared to someone who says, 'I have a plan and it is going to work and my opponent is completely wrong.' "

The result is a paradox. Politicians offer simplistic solutions in order to win elections. But to govern, they must quickly ratchet up their complexity because they confront costs, consequences and compromises. But when up for reelection, it's time to dumb things down again.