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.

What does this mean for 2016? After all, there isn’t much that can be done about the weather on of Fourth of July now. Still, Republicans might do well to note that Arizona and Nevada contain six of the driest ten sites monitored by NOAA in the lower forty-eight states. Yuma, for example, gets barely over three inches of precipitation a year. Importantly, these states also could go either way in the election, with Trump now slightly ahead in Arizona and slightly behind in Nevada. If there is any residual priming from previous rain-free Independence Days, perhaps here is where Republicans should direct their resources. Of course, this would mean fewer resources for a state like New Hampshire, where Trump is currently getting soaked by Clinton but where Trump’s running mate nonetheless has spent time in the last week. Incidentally, New Hampshire also happens to be the home of Mount Washington, the site in the contiguous United States that sees the most precipitation each year.

5. Ask and You Shall Receive

The biggest challenge for Republicans and Democrats on election day may not be persuading whatever undecided Americans remain to favor one candidate over another. Instead, it may be getting people who already favor their side to vote at all. In other words, turnout may be the decisive factor come November 8. Here Sunstein and Thaler offer an intriguing and elegantly simple idea from their book Nudge: “It turns out that if you ask people, the day before the election, whether they intend to vote, you can increase the probability of their voting by as much as 25 percent!”

A strategy of asking already Republican-leaning voters on November 7 if they intend to vote tomorrow might yield more votes, more easily, at less cost than trying to persuade those leaning slightly left to vote Republican at the last minute instead. Moreover, Sunstein and Thaler point out that this prime can be accentuated by getting to the specifics—by asking people not just if they will vote, but when and where they plan to vote.

There is no perfect prime, no hypnotic cue that invariable persuades a person to vote one way or another. But, research is clear that subtle influences can and do nudge human thoughts and actions. If nothing else, an election strategy that is open to incorporating primes might offer a bit of solace to any Republicans currently dismayed by their presidential candidate’s faltering poll numbers, or even to those simply interested in supporting down-ballot GOP candidates. Of course, Democrats could also seek out primes to sway voters this November. But then again, their candidate is already leading in the national polls. All of them.

John Richard Cookson is a writer in Washington, DC.

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