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Biting Commentary

Obama? Romney? Here's a trick for the undecided voter

By Richard B. Barger, ABC, APR

Originally Posted

I know, I know.

You're sick of this Presidential election and its oversaturation of the airwaves, and of the blogosphere, print media, and backyard-fence and barber shop/beauty parlor conversations, not to mention the bombastic fulminations of over-excitable pundits and pontificaters.

If they support your view, they're prescient. If not, they're idiots or uncaring or un-American or worse. (My apologies to the real idiots out there; you look good in comparison to people who make decisions in this manner.)

If you're a strong liberal or lifelong Democrat, you're already in President Obama's camp, and there's little he can do that is likely to dissuade you.

If you're a rock-ribbed conservative or legacy Republican, Mitt's your man; you can't imagine how terrible things would be if President Obama were reelected.

Okay, that takes care of most of you.

And now for someone completely different

Now, for the rest -- the truly undecided.

You're trying to figure out how to decide between one candidate -- between one set of principles, plans, and promises -- and the other.

Each candidate has some positive characteristics and positions, and some that you consider negative. You're trying to suss out some issue or attribute, big or small, that will help you differentiate -- that will help you determine for whom you should vote.

Well, people do this the wrong way.

Instead of evaluating each candidate in terms of "I like this, but I don't like that," the clear-headed answer -- the one that will leave you certain that you've made the correct choice -- is to forget the candidate and, instead, think about you.

That's right, you. Your wants and preferences.

Let me give you what will seem to be an unrelated example (I'll close the circle, I promise).

Do I want a red Ferrari?

Let's say you're about to buy a new car. (As I said, forget the Presidential election, just for a few moments.)

- You like the sleek looks and fiery red color of the Ferrari.

- You're impressed with the luxury of the Rolls.

- You prefer the gas mileage of the Mini Cooper.

- There is a Chevrolet dealership near you that gives terrific service at reasonable prices.

- You are taken by the off-road capabilities of the Jeep.

- All your friends drive luxury SUVs, like the Lincoln Navigator or Cadillac Escalade.

- You really like the reliability of the Toyota.

- You can get a bargain price on a used Lexus.

- And, oh, wow, it would be nice to have the cargo-carrying capability of a Ford F-150.

And on and on.

There are many characteristics you'd consider when choosing a car.

But not all of them are equally important, at least not to you.

The Chief Curmudgeon has occasionally trained others on decision-making, and the key is to move away from direct comparisons.

For me, ceteris paribus, I'd take the Ferrari, hands down. Then, probably the Escalade. Your decision, based solely on the characteristics I've named, doubtless would be different.

But no matter. Instead of looking at the Rolls and Chevrolet and Toyota and trying to compare them, forget about brand names and models.

It's all about YOU

Instead, think of what YOU believe is important when buying a car.

It is a bit complex to take you through the entire Prioritizing Grid, but, in general, it forces you to rank the characteristics that are most important to you.

If you try to list -- in no particular order (that is important) -- the top 20 or 25 characteristics that you might consider when buying a car, then compare them with one another, one at a time, you'll find that just a few factors stand out well above the others in importance.

Let's say, for this example, that price, reliability, and service are the characteristics you ultimately value most in a new car.

Well, that beautiful red Ferrari looks terrific, and the off-road Jeep really is neat, but redness or off-road-ness don't rise to the top of your important-to-me-in-a-new-car queue.

Once you've chosen the factors that are most important to you in choosing a new car, and have ranked them in importance, you can look back at the car brands and figure out which one has the most of what you've determined to be your most important decision points.

If you've done the exercise carefully and thoughtfully, you'll probably find that one of the vehicles stands out, because it offers far more of these highly ranked characteristics than any of the other brands or models.

What makes this work?

YOU have determined the important characteristics -- the features that are important to you, not to your friends or to some salesperson. Once you've ranked the features you chose, then you apply them back to the vehicles you're considering, and, voilà!, one of the choices is clear-cut.

And you'll likely be very happy with that vehicle, because you bought it based on factors that you personally considered important.

Back to the election ...

The same is true with Presidential voting.

As I've said, President Obama has some good points and arguments, and Mitt Romney has some.

But if you move away from the platforms and speeches of each candidate, and instead figure out which issues, approaches, and ideas are most important to you as a citizen and voter, and force-rank them against one another, then your decision becomes ... well, ... obvious.

For you have determined what is most important to YOU, and you then can easily match up your top three or four issues with the positions of each candidate.

If you've completed the Prioritizing Grid exercise carefully enough, I'm confident you will no longer be undecided; your decision will be clear.


Now, go vote!

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