Professor McDaniel Discusses 'Group Attachments' in Voting Patterns

Thursday, October 20, 2016
BERKELEYSIDE -- But despite public panels and lively discussion over policy, counter-intuitively, candidates’ actual policy positions are not what most voters base a decision on. According to San Francisco State University professor of political science Jason McDaniel, despite the focus on policy issues in campaign materials and public forums, most voters actually use another calculus to determine a person’s vote: group attachments. Group attachments, McDaniel says, are social criteria such as ethnicity, race, or sexual orientation. Voters pick up on those factors as a kind of code for the candidate’s perceived ideology — renters, for example, being perceived as more favorable on renter issues. Endorsements are included, he says. “I don’t think candidates are necessarily aware,” McDaniel told Berkeleyside in a phone interview. “They would probably be surprised how little their messaging content influences voters.”