I must stipulate that I love America and would choose to live here every time. In fact, the next choice would be like #10. so it's, USA, USA, USA, USA,....USA, then I'd probably go with Texas.
But let's be honest, the American public is not very smart when it comes to politics and other things that take more than average intelligence. It is usually the case that most people are above average at least at one thing, and for them that's good enough to get them by. Thinking, logic, and politics is generally not one of them.
Political professionals from both major parties know this. That's why they work hard to get the symbols correct:
*The Presidential candidate must be married. Children are a must. The younger the better.
*The male candidates must profess that their wife is the "smart" one or the one who "really kept things together".
*Taller is better.
*Thin is a must. Certaintly not fat. (If you see Chris Christie lose weight, he's running for veep)
*Find a way to be a victim. How you overcame...disease, tragedy, bad circumstance...
*Love sports and be able to talk about your favorite childhood memory
*eat normal food, the normal way. (no pizza with a fork...Sorry John Kerry)
*have normal recreational habits like going to the beach, ballgame. (no windsurfing... again Sorry John Kerry)
*have went to a top academic school at some point.
*act like you understand common folks and their problems (even though you don't and we don't want you to)
*have simple answers to complex problems
*be bold and stand up to something that is really unpopular (really I'm serious)
*act like you're middle class (even though you're not)
*show fake outrage in a really sincere way
*look good to the opposite gender; cool or respectable to your own (this is changing with the gaying of America, but still applies as of today)
*be polite and don't attack any person personally unless their really unpopular.
*act like the President controls a free market economy (even though that wouldn't then be a free market economy)
All of the above have nothing to do with policy. With decision making ability. With leadership. But these are what will decide the 2012 Presidential election more than anything else. This is how the same public can elect a pro-life, tax cutting, big oil George W Bush, and a pro-choice, tax raising super green Obama.
They were the coolest choice in their respective election. When has the most engaging person lost? When has the person with the most simple solutions lost? If you're explaining, you're losing.
Most Americans select their President by who they like. Who sounds like their "guy". Who emits the right cues in the proper way. This is true pretty much on every level of politics, but the more local the election, the more opportunity for other factors to help "bad" candidates win. But the more nationalized or statewide the election, the more everything but substance matters more. The more you are vying for low information voters. These are people for whom the bumper stickers are written. They determine all contested elections.
The best example on a state level was the 2010 special election in Mass. to replace Senator Kennedy. Martha Coakley asked "why would I go outside and shake hands at Fenway Park in the freezing cold"? while her Republican opponent Scott Brown gladly braved the cold and genuflected. In addition she didn't know who Curt Shilling was. He was a star pitcher who had helped the Red Sox win a World Series for the first time since 1918. She made a comment about he was probably a "yankee fan".
So while some talk about how that race was about the rise of the Tea party, or the 41st vote to filibuster health care in the Senate, there are many people who just didn't like Coakley, based on cultural cues. She's out of touch? Now realize these voters want a solid Democratic vote to represent them in the Senate, as evidenced by their votes for President, Congress, and Senate all these years, yet they voted for Brown because of the above.
This year in the Presidential election of course Obama is on track to defeat Romney because he is better at all the symbolism. Some of it, like being the first black President to run for reelection is beyond his control, but Obama is good at faking being regular. Romney on the other hand is a bad actor.
His people know this, and are going to try to fake the the fakery.
Currently they are using his wife as a surrogate to "humanize" him. There is a cable news fake outrage story about a CNN contributor Hillary Rosen who stated "Ann Romney has never worked a day in her life" while commenting on how Romney says his wife is the chief advisor on women's issues. Rosen obviously was saying how can a person who hasn't live a normal life be your advisor to help the lives of everyday women.
But very shrewdly the Romney people played the victim card, the gender card, the disease card, and pure politics brilliantly to get Ann Romney discussing that she did" work hard to raise 5 boys"; and that maybe she hasn't had financial struggles but she been through plenty tough (multiple sclerosis reference).
So of course we should vote for Mitt Romney because we like his wife. Because she was "attacked" by Hillary Rosen we should vote for Mitt. Because Ann unfortunately has a terrible disease, vote for Mitt.
The media wants the President to win in 2012, just as they did in 2008. I was angry about that when I supported Hilllary Clinton, but glad against McCain and glad now. But the media want something interesting to cover and write about over the next few months. So they have allowed a Republican candidate and his wife to fake outrage over an "attack on stay at home moms". This allows the Republicans to fight back in the war on women.
Once the press attacks, it's very rare the polls don't follow.