Its election time again here in the USA.
And if you watch or read the news, you can’t avoid hearing another analysis of the election, or who’s ahead, who’s behind in the polls.
One of the most interesting aspects of politics from the viewpoint of a persuader, is the notion of spinning.
I’m sure you’ve heard this word.
It is said that politicians, and more specifically their media spokesmen and surrogates, are always “spinning the news”.
So just what is “spin”?
Well I think of it this way.
You know that phrase, “frame of mind”?
This phrase is just like spinning.
Imagine an empty picture frame that you can look through.
By looking through an empty picture frame, you are limiting the view or perspective you have on something, and this “frames” your view on it in a unique way.
To state what “frame of mind” a person is in is to say that they have a specific (and limited) perspective on a situation.
So to “spin” then means to attempt to change another’s perspective or point of view on what is being said.
Or said a different way, to spin is an attempt to influence another to see a situation in a specific way.
Here’s an example on this week’s Presidential Debate on how both campaigns are spinning to lower the expectations in case their own candidate doesn’t do well.
First, Obama adviser David Plouffe said yesterday on ABC…
We’ve believed all along that Governor Romney probably has more benefit out of this debate, potentially, than we do… He’s prepared more than any candidate I think maybe in history, certainly in recent memory. So we believe Governor Romney has — he’s been a good debater in the past, he’s very prepared, he’s all these clever zingers and lines in his pocket, so we understand he’ll probably have a good night on Wednesday night,
Plouffe is telling you that Romeny so well prepared, that its to be expected that he’ll have a good night. So when he does have a good debate performance, pay no attention to that. It doesn’t really mean much.
Now look at what Paul Ryan said on FOX News yesterday…
We’re running against an incumbent president. We’re running against an incumbent president with incredible resources. But more importantly, I don’t think one event is going to make or break this campaign. Look, President Obama is a very — he’s a very gifted speaker. The man’s been on the national stage for many years, he’s an experienced debater, he’s done these kinds of debates before. This is Mitt’s first time on this kind of a stage, Ryan is telling you that Obama is a really amazing speaker. He’s going to do well. And even if Romney doesn’t do well at this debate, it doesn’t matter because this “one event” doesn’t decide the election.
Both campaigns want their candidate to do well. Both campaigns know that debates are high risk. Both campaigns also know that as much as they want their guy to win, they might “lose” this first debate. So both are spinning to lower the expectations of their candidate in case they do lose.
And by lowering the expectations of their guy if he does lose, they hope that losing will do less damage to how you think him, because of course it was “expected” that the other guy would win.
Spinning goes on all the time in elections.
And in fact, spinning is happening all the time, all around you.
Thousands of times a day you get bombarded with messages trying to get you to see things from their point of view.
The better you get at spotting spin the less likely you are to be unduly influenced by it.
Sell with Pride,
Shameless Shamus Brown