The results are in from the latest batch of primaries. Once again, the year’s most surprising trends persist: Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are doing far better than pundits, pollsters and elites had expected.
Despite a furious and well-funded campaign against him by the Republican establishment, Trump trounced his rivals in Mississippi and Michigan. Sanders scored a major upset win in Michigan.
Both are the blame-the-other-guy-candidates.
For Trump, it’s poor Mexican migrants who are storming across the border and taking our jobs. Or crazy Muslims who are claimed to be a danger to us all.
For Bernie, wicked Wall Street and evil billionaires are to blame for our troubles. And it’s time to teach them a lesson, even if business is crippled as a result.
Both are dishing out what their worried, weary, and above all distracted, followers want to hear.
And the rest of us, who are either stunned or appalled by the election results so far, can learn something very interesting about how most people form opinions and make up their minds on the big decisions in life.
Emotions and feelings play a much bigger role than most of us realize.
In his recent book, “Copy, Copy, Copy,” Mark Earls, a British writer and well-known consultant on marketing, communications and human behavior talks about the “I’ll have what she’s having” phenomenon from the 1989 movie, “When Harry Met Sally“. That’s what the woman who’s sitting nearby says after Meg Ryan’s very public and fake orgasm.
The widely held view that we make decisions on our own and in a rational way is a complete myth. Instead, we vote and buy stuff by copying others – our friends, family and our neighbors.
Donald Trump is “much smarter than we give him credit for,” says Mark on our podcast. “He gets that people need to feel stuff rather than think about it.”
Much of Bernie Sanders’ appeal is about personal integrity and authenticity. He clearly says what he believes and that may seem very refreshing, even though his left-wing policies made in a loner in the U.S. Senate. But that doesn’t matter one bit to his adoring tribe. Sanders won a stunning 80% of the millennial vote in Michigan.
With Donald and Bernie it’s not about detailed policies. Or what might happen after Election Day. Their appeal is based on group identity and emotions.
The sooner “rationalists” and “experts” realize that, the better.
Top: Front page of “The Economist” magazine.