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Friday, January 29, 2010

Voter's Remorse

Being in sales, I'm on the road every day. It's all local - southeastern Michigan - and I drive on average 700 miles a week, traveling between customers and our two manufacturing facilities.

Southeastern Michigan - it includes Detroit and Ann Arbor - is the bluest part of the state. The Big 3 are headquartered here, and each of them have several car plants in the area. If you recall, during the presidential campaign, McCain wrote off Michigan early (right or wrong, doesn't matter now), and Obama won the state rather handily.

I don't recall exactly, but I remember seeing a very high volume of Obama bumper stickers and car magnets during and following the election and inauguration. The ominous logo, or the "Yes We Can!" slogan, or his image plastered on, what seemed to be, vehicle after vehicle after vehicle. Tons of proud supporters on the roads.

Since his election, Obama's popularity numbers have fallen dramatically, with much of the erosion occurring in the ranks of the Independents. More and more people are increasingly getting upset and angry over the direction our nation is headed, as his approval rating has been below 50% for quite some time now. Rasmussen Reports has a Daily Presidential Tracking Poll (1/29/10's poll is below), and the spread between Strongly Approve and Strongly Disapprove has been in double digits for the past few months.Since the Massachusetts US Senate election, undoubtedly an indictment of the Obama administration, I've been given more thought to the idea of "voter's remorse", the regret some people (or perhaps many many people) feel over having voted Obama into office. To me, that seemed obvious in Massachusetts, as well as Virginia and New Jersey with last fall's election of two Republican governors. So I started to wonder about people in Michigan - were people here starting to feel "voter's remorse", here in a predominantly Democrat/liberal state?

I'm sure many in the automotive industry, primarily the UAW, remain proud of their vote, given that the government bailed out Chrysler and GM, allowing many of their members to remain employed. And those in public education who voted for him were most likely equally proud of their choice. And there are the public sector employees too - staunch Democrat supporters.

But what about the rest who had voted for him? This isn't something that can be asked directly - I know people who voted for Obama, but I wouldn't ask them if they regretted their vote. Chances are they would lie anyway, to save face, that they are comfortable with their choice. Not only that, I don't discuss politics with customers, especially if their opinion is different than mine - prudence dictates that such a topic remain verboten. Business is tough enough as it is, and giving a customer any reason whatsoever to switch suppliers harms my family.

But I was still curious - how to gauge whether or not Michiganders, in the bluest area of the state, were experiencing any regret. And I came up with a very unscientific, anecdotal, quasi-statistical method to measure my assumption.

I counted bumper stickers. I started this past Monday, and completed the count this afternoon. Whether I was driving on the expressway, or surface streets, or in parking lots - I counted the vehicles (passenger vehicles only - cars, vans, SUVs, pick-ups. No commercial vehicles) and kept track of how many had either pro-Obama or anti-Obama bumper stickers or similar paraphernalia on them.

And here are the results: out of 1,569 vehicles, 6 sported pro-Obama stickers, and 13 displayed anti-Obama stickers. By anti-Obama, I mean "McCain/Palin", or pro-Conservatism, or any sticker that displayed an anti-Socialism sentiment. There were 2 or 3 "Nobama" stickers.

Percentage wise, those are really small numbers. Statistically insignificant. And I'm confident that no vehicles were counted twice. My routes and destinations were different each day, as well as the time of day I was driving, and I never counted vehicles in or around my neighborhood. As well as I can recall, though, there were days during the election season when I saw more than 6 pro-Obama bumper stickers. Easily.

I have theories why the number was so low, besides the "voter's remorse" one - along with the desire to keep one's support hidden, out of embarrassment.
  1. Many of the One's supporters are unemployed - thus, they're not driving around.
  2. Many of his supporters took advantage of the "Cash for Clunkers" program, and their old car had the bumper sticker on it.
  3. Many of his supporters are taking public transportation (or what there is of it around here!) because they can't afford the gas.
  4. They moved out of state in order to find a job.
All in all, I'm not putting much stock in my impromptu, terribly unscientific and unmeasurable exercise. I was surprised, however, to see that there were fewer pro-Obama stickers than the anti-Obama ones. Given Obama's falling poll numbers, and the flight of the Independents, I believe "voter's remorse" is real. How real won't be known until the elections this November.

And it's given me a business idea - develop a program to help Obama voters get over their remorse. I'd get an on-line psychiatry degree (how hard could that be?) to get a little bit of legitimacy, develop a web-site where Obama voters can register for counseling sessions (their identity would be protected, of course - they're embarrassed about it, after all), and come up with a fee schedule depending on how many sessions they would require. I'd call it 'Obamabots Anonymous', and it'd go something like this:
  1. Meet with person, one-on-one, and encourage them to admit that they voted for Obama.
  2. Smack them up-side the head, saying "What were you thinking?!?"
  3. Ask them if they intend on voting Democrat in the future.
  4. Repeat Step 2 as many times as necessary until they answer Step 3 "No".
  5. Enroll them in remedial American history and US Constitution comprehension seminars.
I'm willing to franchise, if anyone's interested.