A couple of years ago, I vowed to myself to stop posting to social media about my political views. Other than posts about LGBTQ issues (which I personally view as human rights issues rather than political issues), it’s a vow I’ve kept outside of a few re-posts of the occasional Onion story that is humorous no matter what your political ideologies may be.
I made the vow because I found myself getting into fights with friends, family, and complete strangers. Sometimes they were fights where we simply didn’t see eye-to-eye, sometimes they were fights where the other person was mis-informed on an issue yet wanted to debate it, and sometimes I was the one who was mis-informed. It was eating up a lot of my time and energy, and I realized that the only way to stop the fighting was to stop engaging in the fight to begin with. To me, Facebook (still my personally most-used social media platform) didn’t need to be a constant state of negativity for me in my day. I’d much rather see adorable animal videos in my feed.
This is a blog, though, and a seemingly a venue better-suited to sharing opinions. In my time away from political opinion-sharing, I’ve noticed an interesting shift among the types of posts I see. Yes, people still share their passionate views about the candidates they like and the ones they very-much don’t. But I’ve also noticed that everyone is now an arm-chair pundit. People aren’t just sharing their opinions on the candidates, they’re also now sharing their opinions on candidates’ chances based on their perceived read of the rest of public opinion and polling data. Everyone is now an aspiring Nate Silver, yet nobody is anywhere near as good at it as Nate himself.
In all this arm-chair punditry, one very important factor people seem to be forgetting is that the candidate that always wins is the one that more people simply like more. I don’t mean “like” as in “supports all of the issues that I support.” I mean “like” as in “I’d like to hang out with this person and maybe go get a beer.” People don’t necessarily think of it in those terms, but it all comes down to gut instinct.
Donald Trump is making massive strides towards the GOP nomination not because he’s tapping into issues the other GOP candidates aren’t. But, given the choice of hanging out and having a beer with any of the GOP candidates, who would YOU choose? Be honest, you shuddered at just the thought of having to spend time alone with Ted Cruz. But Trump? The guy was a TV star for a reason having nothing to do with him being a billionaire (otherwise we’d all be tuning in each week for another wacky episode of The Warren Buffet Show).
On the Democratic side, many of the Hillary Clinton supporters keep repeating their belief that Bernie Sanders will never win the general election (there’s that arm-chair punditry again!). This is repeated so often that it seems as if the Clinton supporters believe it’s the only way to sway Sanders supporters to change allegiances. But sorry, that’s not the way gut instinct works.