MINY OR MOE?

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics -

On Nov. 4, vot­ers will choose “the lesser of two evils” to be­come pres­i­dent of the United States.

“This is a bat­tle to be­come the lesser of two evils, rather than the best of the bunch,” says Wash­ing­ton po­lit­i­cal poll­ster Frank Luntz, who in a memo ob­tained by In­side the Belt­way on Aug. 25 writes that so-called float­ing, or un­de­cided vot­ers, “have huge hang-ups with both candidates,” al­beit for dif­fer­ent rea­sons.

“Obama’s weak­ness is his lack of def­i­ni­tion and the fear that he re­ally doesn’t have any an­swers,” Mr. Luntz says of Demo­cratic can­di­date Sen. Barack Obama, while Repub­li­can Sen. John McCain’s “weak­ness is a fear that his an­swers are too closely aligned with Pres­i­dent Bush.”

His memo comes on the heels of a po­lit­i­cal dial ses­sion that Luntz, Maslan­sky Strate­gic Re­search con­ducted Aug. 24 on be­half of AARP.

“I have done roughly 500 po­lit­i­cal dial ses­sions in the past 10 years — most of them with float­ing vot­ers. In that time, I’ve seen them break for one can­di­date or an­other based on ads, de­bates, in­ter­views and other stim­uli. But never have I seen them di­vide unan­i­mously in fa­vor of one at­tribute over an­other,” Mr. Luntz says in the memo.

“We hear about ‘change,’ ‘change,’ ‘change,’ Well, there’s one at­tribute more im­por­tant than change. Ac­count­abil­ity trumps change.”

The dial ses­sion, con­ducted in Den­ver, gave re­spon­dents 30 dif­fer­ent at­tributes to rate in im­por­tance. Not only did ac­count­abil­ity come in first, but it out­ranked ‘change’ in im­por­tance to 20 of the 21 par­tic­i­pants. By com­par­i­son, ‘agrees with me on the is­sues’ was cho­sen by just one per­son.

Says Mr. Luntz: “The can­di­date who can cap­ture the au­di­ence’s per­cep­tions of ac­count­abil­ity will win. Pe­riod.”

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