The Power Photographers Have in Election Outcomes

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There has got to be a reason that in 2012, for the first time in my life, people did not vote their pocketbook when they reelected Obama. Rush Limbaugh provides his “Limbaugh theorem” for a reason. Rush explains his theory to Fox News host, Greta Van Susterin.

And my theory is that Obama has positioned himself as an outsider, not attached to anything that’s happening. What he has made happen, he positions himself as opposed to it and against it and fighting for everybody else to overcome what he has done!

And that’s one of the reasons why the constant campaign, so he doesn’t appear to be governing, so he doesn’t appear to be part of Washington, so there are — he appears to have this mysterious, powerful bunch of forces that are opposing him and stopping him from creating jobs and stopping him from giving people proper health care and stopping him from making their home values go up. But he’s constantly out there fighting it. And he does that by constantly campaigning and never seen to be — to be governing.

So all of these scandals — he calls them — they’re not distraction, they’re real. But he likes them because they detract from the absolute reality of what has happened to this country as a result of his policies.

Something else happens with the help of political campaign photographers that makes the constant campaign a success. At this time in our nation’s history style and optics trumps substance. There no longer exists a fourth estate of news reporters who provide a public check on the three branches of government with in-depth articles on the substance and meaning in political initiatives. They’re gone and in their place we have facebook, twitter, and the Jon Stewart Daily Show. Short pithy political sound bites and photos replaced journalism.

Photographers in political campaigns have had an effect on the 2013 elections for Governor in New Jersey and in Virginia. Low information voters always look at the photos instead of reading about candidates. The only words that matter to them are the ones they hear instead of read. They hear that Ken Cuccinelli is a racist homophobe who is waging a war against women from the taliban wing of the Republican Party. They hear that Chris Christie is a cool fan of Bruce Springsteen who goes out on Jersey Shore with Obama to help storm victims. Even writers who are supposed to support conservatism write about the style. NRO writer Mona Charen recently wrote:

The government shutdown damaged Cuccinelli, possibly costing him the race. But there were other factors. The money gap (he was outspent three to one), outgoing Republican governor Bob McDonnell’s ethics troubles, and Cuccinelli’s dour mien all made it possible for a gasbag Democratic moneyman, who admitted he didn’t read legislation and would hire someone to handle such trivia, to take Thomas Jefferson’s seat in Richmond.

Below are photos that helped Obama and Christie win and Cuccinelli lose. Neither of them had coattails winning legislative branch seats too. Obama doesn’t really care and actually prefers his executive orders to anything coming from the Congress.

Chris Christie (2)

Chris Christie

Ken Cucinelli (2)

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee

This power in a photo is deployed to enhance whatever narrative is being promoted. The pictures below are examples of photos that would have suggested a different narrative to personify Ken Cuccinelli and Chris Christie. Cuccinelli looks like a father and husband with a sunny disposition, and Christie looks like a nasty bully wagging his finger at a school teacher. These were not the narratives being promoted, but if, God forbid, Christie wins the Republican nomination in 2016, then this is the type of photo one can expect will be produced against Christie.


Ken Cuccinelli

I suppose it has always been true that the candidate who appears to have the more sunny disposition wins the election. Ronald Reagan is famous for his great humor and Mike Pence has also ran and won as a happy warrior who didn’t take the bait Richard Mourdock took on the campaign trail. The young single women in Virginia are going to suffer more with crime and with unemployment than if they had voted for Cuccinelli. The strangest name-calling of all is “the Taliban wing of the Republican Party.” If anyone knows anything about the taliban it should be The Council on the American Islamic Relations (CAIR). Every year they put out a ‘Best List’ and ‘Worst List’ of people pushing back against islamaphobia. They inducted Chris Christie and Dick Durbin into their ‘Best List’ while they inducted Herman Cain and Allen West into their ‘Worst List.’

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