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Voters make decisions by their gut, researcher says

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Many voters make choices in the voting booth based on anything but the candidates’ actual positions on the issues, a new study suggests.

Voters’ perceptions on five domestic agenda items were examined in a poll by the Survey Group at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. The survey’s summary said Tennessee voters “hardly qualify as well-informed and ideologically consistent policy wonks.”

The head of the group conducting the survey said the finding is not surprising to public opinion scholars and more than likely extends to voters across the country. “We know from studies as far back as the 1960s that voters are not issue-savvy,” said Ken Blake, director of MTSU’s office of communication research. He said it can be “difficult to learn where candidates stand on the issues.”

Voters most often base their choices on “gut feelings,” Blake continued, noting the public takes “shortcuts” or looks at just “one or two issues” when deciding which candidates to support. And given the amount of information swirling about in the race for president, that just may be the best any citizen can do, he added.

That is why the iVoteValues.com Party Platform Comparison resource is so important, said Richard Land, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

The resource, which compares excerpts from the Democratic and Republican Party platforms on a wide range of issues, distills the two parties’ positions on the issues to a manageable amount, Land continued.

“This is a valuable tool for voters who are serious about making a choice based on fact, not campaign rhetoric,” he said. “Unless a voter is informed on the issues, he can’t make a values-based decision.”

Land announced Oct. 21 the resource is being made available at no cost, thanks to the generosity of a donor, an independent foundation committed to an informed populace. The anonymous donor foundation agreed to cover the costs of the platform comparison resource for those who want them in the waning days of the campaign.

The donor was impressed with the iVoteValues.com campaign and the party platform resource, Land said. “This group was supportive of any effort to inform objectively the American people of the policy positions of the candidates for president,” he said. “The party platform resource does just that.”

Land said he is not aware of any other piece like the party platform comparison resource, noting other groups compile guides using quotes or voting records of the candidates. He said orders for the piece, which is available in limited quantity, could still be delivered in time for distribution before Election Day.

“We are grateful for this donor’s willingness to underwrite the cost of these resources and are hopeful it will prompt many more churches and other groups to order this very valuable election tool,” said Land, noting the piece had been developed under the watchful eyes of attorneys to ensure it could be distributed at churches and other 501(c)(3) organizations.
To order free copies of the party platform comparison resource, phone the ERLC at 1-800-475-9127. There is no charge for shipping or handling for this special offer.

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  • Dwayne Hastings