6 Factors that drive people to vote for really horrible candidates
For a lot of Americans, politics are about as sexy as a pair of pleated corduroy pants. This may help explain why only about 60 percent of eligible citizens choose to vote in the elections — and why the two front-runners for president include a celebrity billionaire jackass and a corporate shill who was unethically let off by the FBI for criminal behavior. Yet, besides just identifying as a Democrat or Republican (and voting accordingly), few people actually know why they vote or how they do it.
Researchers believe there may be a link between genetics and a person’s tendency to identify as liberal or conservative. The way your body produces and responds to dopamine impacts how you perceive risk, which may shape your political beliefs. Conservatives are generally less adventurous, while liberals seem to be more ballsy. So yeah, maybe your mom’s batshit genetics explain why you’re still supporting Bernie Sanders even though he has no chance.
Where a person gets their news can have a huge impact on the way they vote. Media companies know this and purposefully make politics seem as dramatic as possible. This increases ratings while polarizing voters and exaggerating the Democrat versus Republican narrative. This is made worse by the fact that people tend to seek out media outlets that reaffirm their existing beliefs, making them less likely to question what media tells them.
Your Stupid Childhood
Remember when you were 16 years old and horribly misunderstood by your parents? Remember how you swore you’d never end up like them? Well, you were probably wrong.
A person’s upbringing is one of the largest influences on political ideology later in life. No matter how much you may have hated your parents’ line of thinking, it played a role in how you see the world and how you think today. Once a person reaches adulthood, their basic beliefs and values rarely change, making them less receptive to changing their stance on any issues.
Being an Emotional Wreck
Ever notice how presidential candidates constantly try to make the race more about emotions than the actual facts of the election? That’s very deliberate. Humans are extremely emotional and easily influenced by appeals to those emotions. Basically, everyone is an trainwreck and vulnerable when poked in the feels.
How often does Hillary mention being a woman and 9/11? How often does Trump mention that he wins all the time? Playing to feelings distracts voters from facts and real issues of the race. By keeping things emotional, politicians can avoid taking a stance on an issue and being held accountable.
How Much You Hate the Other One
Voters are more motivated to vote when there is a candidate running that they dislike. This is because people are driven by the fear of their worst-case scenario than the hope of their ideal one.
This is at least partly why negative campaign ads are so common. They paint the opposition as an evil psychopathic baby-killer, which then rallies support for the candidate doing the attacking. People that rarely vote may be motivated to do so when they’re afraid of the outcome.
You Want to Win
Voters are a lot less likely to vote for their preferred candidate if they have a feeling that they can’t win the presidency in November. Voters don’t want to feel like they are throwing their vote away for a candidate that has no chance at winning the White House.
They may change their vote and choose the candidate that is still close to their ideal candidate (cough Hillary cough), but has a better chance of winning. This kind of compromise is one of the many reasons we are still locked in the two-party system that everyone likes to complain about, but won’t do anything to stop.