Guest contributer Barbara is a California native and long-time Exponent II reader and contributer. She spent years as a political pollster and is currently employed doing public policy research.
It’s countdown time to one of the biggest nights of the year for me. After months of intense media coverage, weeks of non-stop ads on television, a barrage of political mail, campaign appeals ranging from the inspirational to the ridiculous, charges and countercharges, polls and projections, and enough money expended to fund a small nation for years; it all comes to an end next Tuesday. And you will find me happily camped in front of the TV all evening, with a nearby computer and internet connection, tracking election results as they unfold across the country.
I am a political junkie. I grew up in a politically oriented household, with my mother serving as a local elected official. I worked as a political pollster for years, and have been involved on that basis with campaigns from the national to the local level. I’ve been an officer in two local political groups. I can’t bear to throw away issues of my beloved Los Angeles Times until I’ve digested every section. I subscribe to more news and policy magazines than I could possibly read. My maternal heart glowed with pride when the two of my children who are away at college lamented how they miss the various publications we subscribe to in our household. I’m already looking toward 2008 and read every article I can find on Mitt Romney, John McCain, and Hillary Clinton. The internet provides unlimited access to even more information.
Despite my addiction to all this stuff, I am aware that most people are more turned off than turned on by campaigns and elections. Americans as a whole tend to be woefully inattentive to campaigns, and particularly to the actual details of a candidate’s positions. Voter turnout levels keep dropping. And, sadly, women as a group tend to be less involved and interested in politics than are men.
Historically, female voters tend to be most interested in issues such as education, the environment, health care, and abortion. Meanwhile, men tend to zero in on economic issues and foreign policy. Threats to our safety often trump all of these issues, and thus national security (i.e. everything related to terrorism and subsequent U.S. military ventures) has become the key issue for many voters of both genders since 9/11.
So, with the election fast approaching, it’s a good time to ask how readers of the Exponent II blog feel about politics. Do you pay attention to it? Does it seem relevant to your life? Why or why not? What issues catch your attention? How have you been involved in the political process? Do you plan to vote? Does your LDS Church membership have an influence on your level of interest? Why do you think men (on average) are more interested in politics than are women?
Please note: This post is NOT intended to evolve into an argument over specific policy positions, candidates, etc. Instead, let’s explore our interest in the election process and its relevance, or lack thereof, to our lives.