Why It's Too Late in the Primary Election Cycle to Change Minds

Politicians are scrambling to change minds. But it’s too late. The ship has sailed. And here are 10 reasons why.

1.    Childhood Experiences: At an early age, like a sponge, we start taking in information, all a part of life experiences. We take away feelings about many things. We form opinions to keep us safe. It’s the primitive brain. Facts don’t matter.

2.    Long-Term Memory: Deep-seated long-term memories, especially fear, stick with a person for their entire lives. To minimize a bad memory, another memory must be created to neutralize it. It’s a tall order to change a memory of any kind.  

3.    Perception Rules: For some people, changing an ingrained perception is impossible, even if their perception is wrong. And when you probe more deeply, most people won’t recall why their perception rules exist in the first place. 

4.    Internal Conflict: Reason and emotion are in opposition to each other. Emotion most often wins.

5.    Regretting a Past Decision: People reflect on past voting decisions that disappoint and don’t align with their values. Regret and remorse set in. So they align with a candidate with a completely different persona. A person’s gut reaction is usually a product of bias. 

6.    Intuition: Intuition is activated before our minds consciously understand, based on stored emotional memories that a person keeps secret in their sub-conscious (explaining why polls aren’t always accurate). Therefore intuition often guides decision making without much conscious deliberation.

7.    Noise: With the noise of so many campaign ads on television, robo calls, and direct mail, the mind becomes confused and numbed, which results in sticking with a past decision.

8.    Following the Crowd: Others have made their decisions known, and with so many people coming to this conclusion, they must be right.

These final two points support why it’s too late, yet offer a small window of possibility that could help reverse course.

9.    Endorsements: Recommendations and endorsements can influence someone who hasn’t yet made a decision to decide what course of action to take. But if a decision has already been made, an endorsement at the eleventh hour is too late.

10.    Time: The more time a person takes to make a decision, the less confident they feel about it. People who have been listening to and watching debates may feel more confused now than ever. They’ll either make a gut reaction choice in the voting booth (usually siding with the crowd). Or will avoid the election entirely.

Like it or not, the human mind works in mysterious ways. Candidates who lead in polls and snag voter commitments solidify their position early. How? By expressing positions that make the voter feel good, whether the position is credible or not. Ultimately, whomever attracts the most raving fans wins, because it’s the candidate makes them feel about future possibility who voters will support.


Gary Hennerberg

After a lot of years in marketing and sales, this is what I know works:

Stories sell. Think unique. Stimulate emotion. Close deals. And here are a few other gems from my new book, “Crack the Customer Mind Code.” Know the persona, interpret your offer and let your prospect give themselves permission to buy. That’s how the brain is wired. It’s how people think.

What else? When I’m not breaking down complex topics (or ones marketers over-complicate) into easy-to-grasp stories that sell, I crunch numbers. Manage projects. Write. Teach. Lead.