Kerri Milita, assistant professor of Department of Politics and Government, presented “When you Say Nothing at All: How Candidates Win Elections by Shunning Issues” September 27 at the Main Street College talk.
Milita examined how and why candidates use rhetoric, not issues, to strategically carve out electoral victories. Candidates, she explained, will speak clearly about an issue when they have “nowhere to run” (i.e., they cannot avoid the issue because it is highly salient) or “nothing to hide” (i.e., the candidate wants what the public wants).
The presentation also discussed research that has found that ambiguous rhetoric has the power to demobilize voters. Milita concluded, sometimes the candidate’s best bet to win an election is to artfully say “nothing at all.”