We are a strange people.We are more apt to choose our leaders by reading or listening to negative advertising than we are through analysis of how particular candidates approach the issues.
Our minds can change as quickly as a pollster can dial our telephones. You may have noticed how polls — and there are plenty of them — in Iowa reflect an almost nonstop change of minds among the voters there.
In one poll, Mitt Romney seems to be leading; in another, Rep. Ron Paul sneaks ahead. Last week, Newt Gingrich was the person to beat. Even former Minnesota Sen. Rick Santorum, who sometimes has been in last place during the run-ups to Tuesday’s Cornhusker caucuses, now looks like he may have chance, according to some polls.
Yet, here is a fact: All those candidates are the same people they were before the campaign. The only things that have changed are the story lines that their opponents
weave about them.
Iowans, at least those who answer poll questions, are for the most part allowing themselves to become victims of the tyranny of negative words thrown at them by candidates who have no qualms about distorting the records or the characters of their opponents.
There obviously will be differences among thoughtful people willing to discuss them, but should people change their minds as often as they change their socks?
It has been said that Iowans really aren’t interested so much in helping choose a president as they are in perpetuating the rather healthy business of attracting campaign dollars to their state. To do that, they might tell a pollster just about anything, to keep the broadcast media interested and to keep money flowing.
It will be good next Wednesday, when the Iowa lie-fest is finally over.