Time Magazine names Barack Obama its "Person of the Year", and in telling the story of his reelection, you can't help but wonder whether "Trust" was the attribute of the year.
The Obama campaign knew that voters trusted him and were leery of this Romney guy, and they took every opportunity to remind voters of that phenomenon.
In early 2011, David Simas, a former registrar of deeds in Taunton, Mass., who had become a senior White House aide, switched on what might be called one of the largest listening posts in U.S. history. For months on end, two or three nights a week, Simas and his team secretly gathered voters in rented rooms across the swing states, eight at a time, the men separated from the women.
.... Live feeds of the focus groups were shown on computer screens at campaign headquarters in Chicago. The first discovery Simas made held the keys to the kingdom. “Here is the best thing,” he said of Obama when he went back to home base. “People trust him.”
In an age of lost authority, Obama had managed to maintain his. In group after group, the voters told the researchers they believed the President was honest, lived an admirable personal life and was trying to do the right thing. “Here’s what I heard for 18 months,” Simas says. “‘I trust his values. I think he walked into the worst situation of any President in 50 years. And you know what? I am disappointed that things haven’t turned around.’ But there was always that feeling of ‘I am willing to give this guy a second shot.’”
In different rooms, behind different one-way mirrors, Republicans made the same discovery. “There was almost nothing that would stick to this guy, because they just liked him personally,” Katie Packer Gage, Romney’s deputy campaign manager, said after the election.
Btw, props to Time for eschewing the impulse to name either a thing or a fairly obscure, symbolic figure as its "Person of the Year."
It'd seem the instinct would be strong to name someone like "Sandra Fluke" or "Polls" as the "Person of the Year" just to be a little edgy and surprising.
But as they showed in picking George W. Bush for the designation in both 2000 and 2004, you really can't give it to anything other than the president in his election or reelection year.