The Sentimental Voter
November 7, 1952 — The Wilmington Morning Star

The Mossadegh Project | June 26, 2020                    

An editorial in “North Carolina’s Oldest Daily Newspaper” on the inescapable emotional factor in U.S. elections. At the time Election Day had just passed on November 4th, making Republican candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower the President-elect.

United States media archive

Emotions Ride Election Tide

One of the great commonplaces of politics is that the ordinary citizen votes according to his emotions. In one case they may reflect overwhelmingly his concern for his pocketbook. In another they may mirror discontent over the trials of war, over some sort of controls, over taxes, and the like.

But there seems no reason to doubt that most people do vote according to their feelings about things which they believe affect them personally. They are seldom moved by abstract arguments, for example, over whether we are going to have more or less prospect of socialism if we vote a certain way.

There are many people who deplore this, who believe that voters should be swayed principally by reasoned argument about the issues. Certainly candidates must try to offer such argument for those who want it. But is it really so wrong that the bulk of the electorate takes a pretty elemental view of election campaigns?

In the campaign just concluded, the matters which struck to the voters’ hearts were those of the Korean war, maintaining prosperity and the social gains, combatting inflation, eliminating corruption and communism in government, doing something about taxes.

Through the voters’ decisions on these questions were deeply tinged with personal emotion, was that bad? Are the issues listed not actually a fairly sound layout of the problems confronting us as a people in 1952?

The emotions may not be such a bad guide after all. And, anyway, they seem an inescapable ruling element in the voters’ choice. Even the so-called intellectuals are not free from the coloring of emotion in their decisions

The intellectuals pride themselves that their actions are directed almost purely by reason. But their performance does not support the claim. For instance, many switched horses in the middle of the 1952 campaign with such furious energy that it was obvious their minds were not then in control.

Caught sometimes in an original misjudgment of a candidate which actually was an emotional attachment rather than a studied view founded on factual understanding, some of these high-minded citizens stormed at their man when it became apparent he was made of flesh and blood. They turned away with the bitterness of a woman scorned. If anything, they were more emotional than the ordinary voter whose processes of decision they so often comment upon sadly.

That ought to be one great lesson of this last national campaign.

Why Don’t Americans Vote?
Why Don't They Vote? | The Perpetual Conundrum of U.S. Voter Apathy


Related links:

Make Popular Vote Effective | The Wilmington Morning Star, Nov. 5, 1952

Taxpayer Does Not Get Money’s Worth? (1953 letter on Socialism)

DNC Accused of Preselecting Presidential Nominee (July 1952 Letter)

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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