Creative Commons image, Nate Steiner

Creative Commons image, Nate Steiner

John McCain’s Robo-calls (automated home phone calls) don’t work. Barack Obama’s text messages do.

Why is this?

Slate’s Farhad Manjoo answers the question: robo-calls are cheap and easy, but have no effect (other than annoying a ton of people); text messages are cheap, easy and effective, because they’re both personal and impersonal at the same time.

How does the text message have this sort of contradictory impulse? Because it’s on a cell phone, which is close to you every day, and because for the average user, text messages are like rare jewels, or limited editions–something you look forward to getting. Or a friendly reminder. For the Obama campaign, cell phones are like micro-targeting: if they have a cell phone they know where the person lives and whether they’re a likely voter.

And they’re currently unspammed. If you have a txt from Barack either you signed up for it…or one of your friends forwarded it on to you.

Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama

Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama

How Americans Pick Their President

I’m a student/expat from America, and I haven’t gotten my absentee ballot yet. This article explains four models of choice in a democracy: active information gathering, passive information collection, single-issue deliberation, and intuitive shortcuts. No group or political party has a monopoly on a way of deciding, and individuals may use more than one style.

Curiously, active information gatherers–the type of person who really constantly seek out information–are most likely to vote across party lines and least likely to choose a candidate that agrees with their views. Possibly because they became confused by too much information, the researchers hypothesized.

Passive information gatherers and intuitive shortcut users don’t actually do any research, but tend to rely on party affiliation and advocacy endorsements: in short, having someone else they trust do the research.

Me, I tend to be a single-issue (or three- or four-issue) voter with a side of intuitive shortcut. I don’t care to watch the debates, but I’ll read recaps of it on the news. I don’t like politics, and the best thing about being an American outside of America in an election year is not having to hear or see any stupid commercials.