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Theoretically Speaking – QNS.com

Theoretically Speaking

So it all comes down to this question…
Will we see the most lopsided race in New York’s political history or will it be the biggest upset?
More than likely it will be something in between, but every indication is that the vote count on Tuesday night will be a mere formality.
It will take a comeback of monumental proportions to propel Fernando Ferrer to victory over incumbent Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Some polls have Hizzoner up by 30 points or more, while the mayor’s own pollsters call it a bit closer — although still an easy victory.
Bloomberg over the past two weeks has picked up the endorsement of nearly every newspaper in New York City. He has also snagged more than a few Democrats and celebrities along the way, chipping away at Ferrer’s natural support base.
He has spent more than $60 million — on his way to what experts say will be $100 million total — of his own money.
Meanwhile Ferrer’s bashing of the mayor’s spending doesn’t seem to have resonated with the voters.
All told, it looks like they just don’t care.
Either that or the money has achieved its desired purpose; that is to use advertisements to lull people into a state of apathy, a so-called “narcotizing dysfunction,” where they believe that Bloomberg is doing a wonderful job simply because they were told so 5,371 times in commercials during the World Series.
Let’s take a quick look at some theory behind this argument and you will see that it’s not all about the money.
For example, in The People’s Choice, a landmark study of the 1940 presidential election, scholar Paul Lazarsfeld writes that “the people who already knew how they were going to vote read and listened to more campaign material than the people who still did not know how they would vote. The group which the campaign manager is presumably most eager to reach — the as yet undecided — is the very group which is less likely to read or listen to this propaganda.”
In other words, decided voters tune in and the undecideds tune out.
What was found to be much more influential to undecided voters was the “two-step flow” model of communication, where so-called opinion leaders take in and distribute media messages to their friends and neighbors.
Since these leaders (PTA presidents, civic activists, etc.) were viewed as having some knowledge about the race, they wielded greater influence than the canned messages of the campaign and the press coverage of the race that played out in newspapers and on radio (remember, TV had not yet taken its hold on America).
If you believe in this model, then Ferrer should be more worried about a co-op board president who tells his constituents that he likes Mayor Bloomberg a lot more than he needs to fret about The New York Times endorsement of his opponent.
In a race where one candidate has both of these things however, it doesn’t matter what theory you buy — it’s all over but the shouting. We’ll call it 57-40-3 for Bloomberg.
politics@queenscourier.com

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