chapter  8
Of Pollster-geists and Consultants: The Mad Science Of Winner Take All Campaigns
Pages 23

If we could travel in a time machine back to colonial Virginia, where Washington, Jefferson, and Madison learned their politics, we would be struck by at least this glaring political difference: elections were simple. An informal sounding of opinion among leading gentlemen of a community determined which of them should “stand”—no one “ran”—for office. Sociologist Michael Schudson has written that “everyone knew that the reputation and character of the candidates should be the basis for voting, not positions on ‘issues.’ When the white, property-owning males eligible to vote went to the polls, they announced their choice to the sheriff before stepping over to the candidate they favored, who then may have offered a glass of rum punch.”2 Voting was a quaint ritual that, for better or worse, reaffirmed the community’s social hierarchy. Naturally, white men lacking property, women, Indians, and slaves were excluded from this transparent but elite process.3