Time Magazine has declared their annual Person of the Year, choosing Barack Obama. The move is not surprising, but their article which details his shrewd campaigning methods makes the man look more canny than heroic.
Their article details how both Republicans and Democrats used focus groups, interviewing and questioning voters three days a week to try to find the psychological strategies to sway their opinion. What both Republicans and Democrats discovered were that Barack Obama was trusted and Mitt Romney was not. After all the secret interviews, mostly with people from swing states, the Democrats developed the tactics they would use during the election. As their articles states:
“This became the through line of the brutal and at times unfair Obama attacks on Romney — the cracks about car elevators, the specious mention of his potentially felonious Securities and Exchange Commission filings, the false claim that he supported an abortion ban without a rape exception, the endless harping on a Swiss bank account once held in his wife’s name. It all spoke to a central message built around trust: One man, despite his failures, had voters like you in mind. The other man, by contrast, knew how to make a lot of money for people you will never meet.”
Democratic psychologists also lifted a line from a focus group that Obama made use of. “Above it was just a phrase from a focus group,” said David Simas, who had become a senior White House Aide,”‘ I’m working harder and falling behind.’ That was the North Star. Everything we did and everything we said was derivative of that sentiment.”
Indeed one of Obama’s speeches stole the line and used it in the words, “As long as there are families who are working harder and harder but falling further behind, our work is not yet done.”
The article likewise details how those who have little political interest or experience made the deciding factor in the latest vote, as they were seduced more by personality than facts to visit the polls.
In short, the article is less eulogistic than you might expect from the Man of the Year position, but the choice itself is not surprising.