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Tell Me Who You Are and I Will Tell You Who You Will Vote For

Updated on February 22, 2019
Saul Grandier profile image

master in political science from ULA. Currently studying a PHD in political science at USB

Understanding social locations

Social locations such as the level of education, social class or income, the area where the person lives (whether rural or urban), among other factors such as sex, age, race, religion, all of them determine the vote of a person. In other words, based on these factors, it is possible to guess who a person will vote for… and politicians know that.

A politician could emerge spontaneously but also be designed, as if he came out of a political laboratory. In countries or social sectors where politics is something quite emotional and less rational, playing with the image and the speech of the politician is fundamental in political campaigns.

For the elaboration of this article I must give special credit to the investigations of Jerry Yeric and John Todd on Public Opinion.

Education

Education is a fundamental factor in the voters that molds their ideology and their position in terms of public programs (economic help to single mothers) and social issues (such as euthanasia, abortion, gay marriage). A high level of education is associated with greater tolerance. This means that people with more education tend towards the center-left or center-right and never towards the political extremes (on this point see my previous article).

Although this seems politically incorrect, statistically it has been shown that a person with a lower educational level will be more prejudiced and more susceptible to radical discourses that promote xenophobia, chauvinism, racism and classism.

Education, especially university education, molds the individual in a better way than family, friends, and the media can. In some way, the studies of social facts with depth and with scientific methods make the human being almost impermeable to ideas and prejudices typical of political fanaticism.

Education prevents the person from going to political extremes, either far left or far right, as both extremes are intolerant (the left is intolerant of freedom while the right is intolerant of equality).

Age

Statistical studies confirm that people older than 55 and 60 tend to be more conservative than people under that age. In contrast, younger at that age tend to be more tolerant of the phenomena of current society, especially the generation of so-called millennials.

Nina Burleigh says that the phenomenon of millennials could force the Republican party to change its ideology, making it more similar to the ideology of the democratic party. While the evangelical Christian base has been reduced, a political base has been broadened, a base that is identified with global problems such as migration, xenophobia, racism, global warming, among others topics.

There are intergenerational changes explained by researchers like Ronald Inglehart who differentiates between material needs and post-material needs. Relying on Maslow's pyramid, he affirms that the generations prior to World War II were more concerned with material goods but, given that material goods are already guaranteed, young people now care more about self-realization.

Religion

Religion is a factor to be taken into account in politics. Although, constitutionally speaking, religion has no place in secularized western democracies, in practice, religion remains a very important element.

Atheism remains an element against political candidates, especially in societies where religion has great weight, as in the United States. Several investigations have confirmed that people associate atheism with immorality, so people would prefer to vote for a drunk, a womanizer, even a religious fanatic, rather than an atheist.

However, as Burleigh said, although people prefer to vote for a religious politician and not for an atheist, in the same way such people do not want that politician to be a devout or practicing religious person. In short, people want a politician who respects the Bible but does not read or quote the Bible.

Social class or income

In this case the low-income population relate issues such as abortion, euthanasia and homosexuality as issues that undermine morality, while the high-income population relates such issues to civil affairs.

It is also true that someone of high income will vote to maintain the status quo, that is, by the incumbent president or successor of his party, while the low income will vote for a change of government. I would say that this is obvious but it would be to condemn people to a utilitarian view of politics.

Sex

The political trends between men and women are very similar, and differ considerably when dealing with specific issues such as sexual or labor labor harassment.

By the way, although the trends are slight, women tend to vote for authoritarian governments while men prefer to vote for liberal governments. In fact, it is very difficult to find variables that allow predicting the authoritarian tendencies of a sector of the population. It would be necessary to investigate history and political culture.

Area

The statistics also indicate that the population of the rural sectors are more conservative and prejudiced than the people who live in the cities. In the case of France, the far-right Marine Le Pen obtained very few votes in Paris (less than 5%) while Macron obtained more than 35%; but in the rest of the country, the vote was more equal since, while Macrón obtained 23.14%, Le Pen obtained 22.6%.

In the times of Nazi Germany, the Berliners had voted against Hitler, who had more support in the rest of the country.

A very emblematic case is Italy, brilliantly explained by Robert Putnam who states that southern Italy has a more authoritarian and clientelism trend than northern Italy

Race

An important factor to take into account in racially heterogeneous countries. The black population is more inclined towards the democratic party than the republican party, therefore they advocate greater tolerance and greater social inclusion.

In short, a person who is older than 55 years, of low education, white, will be more likely to vote for the right, that is, against globalization, against immigration, against welfare, among others; while a person under 55, of high education, not white, will be more likely to vote in favor of immigration, abortion, euthanasia, homosexual marriage, among other topics

The conjuncture

But the socioeconomic factors could be conditioned to another equal or more important factor: the conjuncture.

The terrorist attacks and the migrations of Africans and Muslims have ignited alarms in the European population. Some have wondered how moderates win in Paris, a city that has been under constant terrorist attacks.

The victories of Viktor Orban in Hungary, Andrzej Duda in Poland, the young Sebastian Kurz in Austria, the advances in the policy of Marine Le Pen in France and Geert Wilders in Holland should not be lost sight of. Europe seems to want to reincarnate Charles Martel and shield itself from the waves of Islamic migrants.

But the conjuncture is subject to the media, to the fenomena called priming. The media can divert a topic that does not favor a politician and focus on a topic that favors him, or vice versa. It has happened to Reagan, Bush father., and ultimately to all politicians. The media play a fundamental role in determining what is the most important issue that should be in public opinion, and it is a citizen's duty to differentiate when it is a really important issue and when the issue is being used for the benefit of the political candidate.

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