November 4, 2012

Campaign Rallies

To the surprise of many, Mitt Romney is visiting Pennsylvania today. Admittedly, I haven’t made a scientific study of campaign rallies, but I do question their value. Romney has visited Ohio about a zillion times, but has it won him more votes on Tuesday? I doubt it.

Mitt Romney
Photo by Gage Skidmore
To begin with, no one needs to attend a campaign rally to learn what the candidate has to say. These events are covered ad nauseam in the media. Whenever a candidate says something new or contradictory, we’re sure to hear about it.

Who goes to campaign rallies anyway? Not, I suggest, the undecided voters that we are told the candidates are trying so hard to influence. Not supporters of the opposing candidate who, at this point, are more likely to view the visiting candidate with a combination of hatred and revulsion, rather than curiosity. Not, I suspect, even causal supporters, unless doing so is very convenient. (A worker in a factory visited by a candidate is likely to show up, or else.) People who show up at a rally—coverage on television support this—are enthusiastic supporters who will vote for the candidate anyway, and campaign workers. Probably the biggest effect of a campaign rally in a particular place is on the folks who are already actively working to elect the candidate.

Does anyone really think that the Romney vote in Ohio will be proportional to the number of times Romney has visited the state? Does anyone think that Romney’s visit to Pennsylvania will really help deliver the state to the Republican candidate?

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