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Switchers aren’t always real

Oct. 27, 2008

by Roz Kohls

They’re back. It’s that time of year, when you will hear the following: “All my life I have voted (insert party name here) but this election, I’m going to vote (insert another party name here.)”

It is very rare for people to change the way they think that drastically. Most of the time, when someone tells you they are making a drastic switch, they aren’t telling the truth. They either want you to believe their opinion matters more than other people, because they know something very convincing and persuasive, or they are trying to convince you to “jump on the band wagon” with them.

They know you can’t actually check how they voted in the past, because this country has secret ballots.

There are other ways to know what someone believes, however. Actions speak louder than words. Here are some actions that are telling:

• Donating political money. If people donate money to a candidate or party, they probably agree with the thinking of the candidate or party. If people claim to be Republicans, but are on the record for donating to Democrats, it’s probably not true.

• Church and charitable donations. Democrats and Republicans donate to church and charity in very different ways. For example, if people donate to a liberal group, and claim to be Republicans, it’s doubtful that they really are.

• Spending money on items promoting viewpoints. Many people advertise their opinions on T-shirts, lawn signs and bumper stickers. Democrats wouldn’t wear a T-shirt with a picture of William F. Buckley Jr., the founder of National Review, on it. Republicans wouldn’t wear a T-shirt with revolutionary Che Guevara on it.

• Spending time. When people attend a precinct caucus, they sign in at a caucus with people they agree with. A Democrat, for example, is probably not going to attend a Republican caucus.

Also, Republicans and Democrats volunteer for different causes, just as they donate money to different causes.

• It would have been mentioned over a lifetime. Most people would have told someone over a lifetime, either a friend, neighbor, family member or co-worker, that they usually preferred Democratic or Republican candidates.

Next time you hear someone claim they suddenly switched parties, chances are you will be able to figure out if it’s true, even if you never saw their secret ballots.