5 Ways the GOP Can Win Votes—No Candidates Necessary!

Sparkler before a U.S. flag. Pixabay/Public domain

Psychological priming can impact voters’ choices.

This same result played out with flesh-and-blood candidates as well, Greenberg, Solomon and Pyszczynski noted. In an experiment held before the 2004 U.S. presidential election, participants who had been reminded of death reported by an almost 3-to-1 margin that they would vote for President George W. Bush over Senator John Kerry. At the time, the researchers explained, President Bush was seen as the “charismatic” candidate purveying the message that “we are divinely ordained to defeat the forces of evil” after the grim shock of September 11, 2001.

In all, this research suggests that—after a reminder of death, of course—voters might be more inclined to support a “charismatic, bold, self-confident” candidate. These are qualities Trump has in excess. Importantly, the candidate would also need to espouse the idea that America is “divinely ordained to defeat the forces of evil.” Perhaps it was no coincidence then that in his much-touted foreign policy speech on August 15, Trump emphasized this point about fighting terrorism: “we cannot let this evil continue.”

3. Take Me to Church

Demarcating the separation between Church and State is a solemn responsibility placed on the highest echelons of American government—the Supreme Court, for example. Yet it is the church down the street, a place much closer to home, where this boundary might be most meaningful come November 8.

In 2010, the journal Political Psychology published an important paper by Abraham Rutchick of California State University, Northridge. It was the result of an idea Rutchick wanted to test that ecclesiastical primes might influence political choice. As noted above, it has been shown that setting up polling stations in schools resulted in an increase in voters favoring school funding proposals. Similarly, Rutchick thought that holding voting in churches might prime more voters to support conservative causes and candidates. To study this idea he dove into the 2004 data from South Carolina’s sixth congressional district. In the end, the results were clear. Adjusting for precinct-level partisan composition, he found that the more conservative candidate did statistically better in voting precincts located in churches than in those located elsewhere—41 percent support in churches to 32 percent elsewhere, in this case.

Importantly, in broader follow-on studies Rutchick found that such primes only affected self-identified Christians. He explained, “ecclesiastical images have their impact by increasing Christian identity, which in turn activates Christian values and their implications for political issues.” Nonetheless, the full set of studies he performed led Rutchick to conclude that “churches as polling places could be advantageous to politically conservative candidates and to supporters of conservative positions on abortion, same-sex marriage, and other relevant issues.” These are candidates, in other words, that tend to be Republican.

4. Make It NOT Rain

A downpour on election day might result in a poor showing at the polls. After all, who wants to wait in long lines in the rain? But Republicans interested in boosting votes for their party on November 8 might instead want to worry about the weather a bit earlier in the year on July 4, America’s Independence Day. Here’s why.

In a 2012 working paper for Harvard Kennedy School, two researchers looked at Americans born between 1920 and 1990 to see if the number of rainy Independence Days during childhood influenced political choice. Their thinking was twofold. First, more rain-free Fourths might mean more patriotic festivities, more fireworks, more flags and more U.S.-themed hoopla. All of these things contribute to a sense of “national identity and a belief in the underlying principles supporting American society.” Second, more rain-free Fourths might also mean a stronger identity as Republican for all of the reasons cited in the 2011 flag-priming study. The results supported both ideas. At the sample mean age of 39, for example, the likelihood that an adult turns out to vote is increased by 0.88 percentage points for each rain-free Fourth of July in childhood. Meanwhile, the likelihood an adult identifies as Republican increases by 0.61 percentage points.