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Purple Power May Sway Election

By    |   Thursday, 02 October 2008 12:43 PM EDT

Forget about red and blue voters, those hyper-partisan Democrats and Republicans who dominated the past decade and turned American politics into a blood sport. Think about the purple people who are starting to elbow the reds and blues aside.

The purple label designates the independent, middle-of-the-road voters who have made a comeback and now occupy the main battleground of 2008.

[Editor's Note: See a Map of Just Who These Purple People Voters Are — Go Here Now].

And don’t think just about purple people, experts advise. Rather, candidates need to consider what purple people think, experts say.

That’s the message politicians are receiving these days from pollster John Zogby and the Norman Lear Center at the USC Annenberg School for Communication, which did a survey to gauge this reemerging group of voters and, more importantly, to determine how to win their votes.

The survey, which examined the political beliefs and entertainment preferences of 3,167 likely voters, offers a view of the various slices of the American electorate.

It reveals three big clusters of respondents:

REDS — A largely conservative group of Republicans, who made up 41 percent of the national sample.

BLUES — Mostly Democrats who could be labeled liberal, who totaled 34 percent.

PURPLES — Totaling a full 24 percent of those surveyed, they did not align with the political beliefs and values of reds or blues. The same respondents were asked about everything from their preferred leisure-time activities and their favorite radio and TV shows, Web sites, movies, games, and sports.

Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama are paying attention to the purple power, as each candidate invests tens of millions of dollars to court purple voters.

Following are some of the findings:

  • First, all politics are still local to purples, who trust and rely on their local newspapers for news. Fifty-eight percent prefer their hometown papers, five times more than any national or major city daily. So in addition to making a local stop, they say, candidates should push local surrogates to deliver your message.

  • Second, stick with 30-second TV ads. TV was tops when purples were asked what they like to do in their free time. NBC is still king. Purples most trust old pro Tom Brokaw, followed by “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams. If you are McCain, don’t preach to the choir. Few purples tune in to the Fox News Channel.

    A few other highlights:

  • Top TV shows to buy ad time on: “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” “60 Minutes,” “CSI,” “Sunday Night Football,” “House,” ‘Two and a Half Men,” “Law & Order” and “Criminal Minds.” Avoid reality shows. More than a 25 percent never watch them, and “American Idol” is the only one to reach double figures (11 percent). Letterman and Leno provide the best bang for the buck on late night, but 25 percent of purples are already asleep by then.

  • The news/talk radio format is a good buy, as 41 percent of purples tune in.

  • Rock and roll will never die. Classic rock and oldies stations will reach 30 percent of purples. Pop stations are up there at 28 percent.

  • More than half of purples either don't listen to national political talk radio or don't have a favorite talking head. Of those who do, 18 percent listen to Paul Harvey and 13 percent, to Rush Limbaugh.

  • All sports, all the time. You can reach more than 10 percent of purples with just about any sports on TV. Of course, football is No. 1 (54 percent), followed by baseball and basketball.

  • Google them because 69 percent of purples say that is their favorite site. Yahoo is at 51 percent, and MSN at 39 percent.

  • Get viral. YouTube is a favorite for 27 percent of purples.

  • They surf for news, as 72 percent say that is the information they look for online. Purples also are more likely to go online to find out about TV shows, movies, games, music, fashion, shopping, books and sports. But don't waste your time with blogs; purples don't care about them.

  • Celebrities won't help, because 87 percent of purples say that their endorsements are a turn-off or have no impact.

  • The Oprah exception. Almost 30 percent say Oprah Winfrey is well-informed about the candidate she endorsed (Obama), and George Clooney clocked in at a respectable 26 percent.

  • Be happy because they are. Eighty-three percent of purples say they are very or somewhat happy about their personal life.

    The experts also advise candidates on how to approach these voters:

  • Forget about wedge issues, they said. Purples are worried about the economy; 49 percent cite it as most important, compared with 3 percent who chose morality and values. The Iraq War isn't working. Seventy percent of purples say it has not been worth the loss of American lives, and 53 percent don't agree that it can be won.

  • Go green. Eighty percent of purples say more resources are needed to protect the environment rather than saying government has gone too far.

  • Promise that you will throw the bums out of Washington. Seventy percent of purples blame leaders of the political parties for the worsened state of politics. Eighty percent say this country's on the wrong track.

  • Corporate America is not their friend. A whopping 90 percent say corporations don't generally act in society's best interests. And 57 percent say government regulation of business is important.

  • Praise the working mother. Almost 90 percent of purples say men and women should share household duties equally.

  • Privatize education at your peril. Eighty percent of purples say that investing in public schools is better than supporting private education.

  • Don't demonize immigrants. Two-thirds of purples say they are here for work, not a handout.

  • Walk a tightrope on trade. Purples are closely split on whether workers need trade protections.

  • Be tech savvy. Three-quarters of Purples say new technology and the social and economic changes it brings are a good thing.

  • Civil liberties and equality take a back seat to security and freedom. Nearly 60 percent of purples say security is more important than liberties, and 74 percent say freedom is to be more valued than equality.

  • Don’t believe that purples want us to shoot first and ask questions later. When asked to choose between using force or improving anti-American sentiment to combat terror, 85 percent of purples choose the latter.

  • Compassion is popular. It is our duty to help the less fortunate, say 81 percent of purples.

  • Be very careful talking about religion's role. Purples are evenly split on whether religion should have a greater role or be left out of public life.

  • Don't talk about guns. Purples are again evenly split on whether it is appropriate to regulate gun ownership.

  • Cutting taxes is always a good thing for everybody, according to 66 percent of the purples.

    Finally, candidates would do well to pay attention, because the purples are. More than half of them say they're paying more attention to politics now than they did four years ago.

    [Editor's Note: See a Map of Just Who These Purple People Voters Are — Go Here Now].

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    Forget about red and blue voters, those hyper-partisan Democrats and Republicans who dominated the past decade and turned American politics into a blood sport. Think about the purple people who are starting to elbow the reds and blues aside.The purple label designates the...
    Thursday, 02 October 2008 12:43 PM
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