Image 01 Image 03

The Obamacare ruling from a marketer’s perspective

The Obamacare ruling from a marketer’s perspective

The Obamacare ruling has implications beyond those affecting policy and judicial precedent; the Supreme Court decision allows Obama to claim the total success of his far-Left ideology, with a stamp of approval that goes all the way up to the Supreme Court.

Why is that so important to a political marketer?

I recently completed a study, “Liberal Leadership,” where I applied the marketing-research technique “laddering” to map and contrast the underlying emotions and values Obama and Hillary Clinton champions feel. The results are a sort of consolidated flow chart of attributes, consequences, and values that describe the mindset of these two leaders’ supporters.

This research allows me to point to the exact chains of emotions that the Obamacare decision will tap into–and why it may be one of the only ways he could have salvaged his supporters’ help.

The Obama champions derive several core emotions through their support of him–emotions that are quite different than those of liberals who support more “traditional,” establishment candidates like Hillary Clinton. While I determined there to be two core segments of Obama supporters, I’m concentrating on the first: the young, idealistic segment of supporters.

Through supporting Obama, this group taps into their values of “Self-Esteem,” “Respect by Others,” and “Security of Resources.”

The reason they are able to derive these emotional benefits–essentially feelings that they are worthwhile, that others look upon them with respect, and that their futures will be secure–is because when Obama succeeds with a far-left ideology, they feel their own philosophy and sense of self is reinforced.

For example, one of the most commonly cited reason for their support of Obama is his international outreach. By apologizing to the world for America, they feel Obama is repairing the image of all Americans–thus increasing their own feeling of being respected by others. As one research subject told me, “now I feel I can travel the world again without being hated.”

Another example: they feel Obama’s sophistication, intellectual presence, and “cool” factor validates the vision of what Americans truly are, and reinforces their own decisions and sense of self-esteem.

Regarding the legislative success, however, we see the greatest contrast with the liberals who came before him. Obama supporters specifically cited Hillary Clinton’s inability to achieve success with health-care reform, which they believe is tied to her being wholly uninspiring. This ultimately impacts their own feelings of achievement.

Obama’s now-cemented health-care legislative success, achieved without triangulating to the middle (as Bill Clinton and others before have done), is a fundamental attribute that supports the emotional reasons his base connects with him. By achieving without diluting the beliefs held by his followers, Obama reinforces their sense they are right–their self-esteem.

Prior to the Obamacare ruling, Obama’s brand champions were forced into explanation mode–“give him more time,” “he’s had to fix the messes of those before him,” “he’s new, let him learn,” etc. His core champions were willing to defend the President, but it was a far cry from the way they interacted with Obama when “Hope” and “Change” were more than just fumes.

Without the Supreme Court success, that base would have defected and, most likely, continued their slow abandonment of support of the President.

It is only by striking at the nature of Obama’s achievement, by explaining that he is a politics-as-usual, establishment player that is no different from his predecessors, that those seeking to demarket Obama can cut the emotional ties of his supporters.

View the detailed mental maps from the report here.


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.


This is a sad finding… I wouldn’t want to be a liberal for anything, especially if I needed Obama to make me feel good about myself!!

I don’t have any argument with the thesis that anyone still supporting Obama is getting a rush from this ruling.

But I DO believe the opposite effect is sweeping the vast rest of America.

A poll out last week showed something like 22% felt like government has the consent of the governed.

With this ruling, which is utterly incomprehensible because it is utterly unrelated to Constitutional law, the legislative process, or much of any other damn thing, the feeling of disjunction from their government will grow in the American people.

I think, and hope.

    Phillep Harding in reply to Ragspierre. | June 29, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    If those who are unhappy can be united. Chicago politics calls for dividing the opposition or personal destruction of the competition.

    And, of course, “the dead shall rise again”, and it’s not even judgement day.

That may be, but once the full implications of what this tax will do to the economy is explained, I’m not so sure that the independents who propelled him to victory are going to worry about triangulation, unless they triangulate him by the neck from a tree limb.

I’m not so sure that the youth are going to turn out for this tarnished rock star. He’s so 2008.

    Ragspierre in reply to persecutor. | June 29, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    I’m still confused about the location, persecutor…

    I’ve googled the name of the place you named, and can’t find it.

Incredibly, to cap off the horrid news yesterday — and this has never happened before, and it happened TWICE — prospective customers (complete strangers) asked me what political party I am affiliated with because they weren’t going to do business with a Republican! The first was nasty, said that she has to know because Republicans are “crazy lunatics”.

This is fascinating research. Just on a personal note, I have been looking for a job for the past year and a half and have repeatedly encountered the same question in interviews. Since I have a bachelors in Marketing and MS in Psychology I am often asked why I chose two very different paths in education. I saw them as entirely related and I think you’ve demonstrated the point with your research.

There is no doubt Obama’s success in Court saves him from complete abandonment of his base. I watched the beginning of Hardball yesterday which was all I could take. Howard Fineman and Matthews said exactly what you point out here. Fineman quoted Winston Churchill’s famous saying to illustrate, “Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.” Obama’s validation in court reinforces perceptions he is a winner. Those who support him are validated as winners along with him. Andrew Sullivan gathered quotes to illustrate the point:

He’s weak. He yields too much. He gets rolled. He’s a lightweight. He’s inexperienced.

He wins.


We’ll see about that in November. No doubt it would have been far easier to send him back to Chicago had this core support group not been reinforced with this ruling.

    OcTEApi in reply to Mary Sue. | June 29, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Most of the Democrats abandoning Obama are because of Gay Marriage and Religious Liberty.
    The Obamacare law is bad.

    Nothing has changed and some are inventing obstacles out of whole cloth and actually lending credence to the notion that RINO’s are the future of the Republican Party.
    (its only through their support that liberals ideology gets a boost)
    Was 2010 an aberration?
    Is the TEA Party dead?
    Did the economy just get a boost and I missed it?
    Was Wisconsin a win or not?

    Un fricken believable

      Mary Sue in reply to OcTEApi. | June 29, 2012 at 1:26 pm

      I think you’re misreading my comment. I think we lost a battle and acknowledged as much. We can now decide if we lay down and die or fight on to win the war in November. No way am I laying down to die.

This pathetic LI pity party continues in the wake of the SCOTUS decision… must fling napalm on Roberts because he didn’t hand you a gift.

I’m sure the distribution of nationwide voters perceptions will reflect the majority.
Unless you actually believe all of Obama’s false narratives will survive the scrutiny of sunlight.

Get To Work damn it!

I think the significance of these findings is that our side can now pinpoint how to attack Obama. Every speech, every ad must kneecap the image of Obama in these three areas: respect by others, security of resources, and self-esteem. I think our political marketers are up to that task.

    TrooperJohnSmith in reply to HarrietHT. | June 29, 2012 at 2:18 pm


    The Chicago Jesus morphed into the Wizard of Oz and the feisty little Tea Party Terrier moved the curtain to reveal a Chicago thug in a nice suit struggling with low skills and a big ego.

    We gotta keep the MSM and the Unions from hiding him behind that curtain again!

casualobserver | June 29, 2012 at 1:39 pm

I live in a area that is overall very liberal (in the classical sense) with a fair representation of hard left progressives. But many I meet still worry about the numbers problems – debt, deficit, taxes. Only the most dedicated progressives, who ultimately want European style democratic-socialism, are still 100% bought in to reelecting Obama. The others could be influenced to some degree or they might otherwise stay out of this election.

I think highlighting both the politics-as-usual AND the poor debt/deficit/tax record (thanks to the health care decision) realities can give those who are reluctant a reason to change things.

Phillep Harding | June 29, 2012 at 1:39 pm

What on earth does “one of the only” supposed mean? “One” implies multiple and “only” implies single.

Very annoying oxymoron.

Re Anne’s point . lts about perception . Being on the winning side , having your position validated. With yesterdays ruling the system has now done that. l just heard on the news the market is up over 400 points.

TrooperJohnSmith | June 29, 2012 at 2:04 pm


About thirty years ago, The Left abandoned all fact and reason in favor of the visceral, the ‘feeling,’ aspect of the human psyche. That’s why reasoning is ineffective with them, but clowns, mimes, crystals and drum circles are.

It’s easy to see that this was generated by the 60s hippies – the ‘feel good’ generation – as a substitute for growth and [cough-cough] maturity. The Left has no self-imposed limits, so no common moral code will suffice, so a feelings-centric, self-esteem value system, where ‘right and wrong’ are on a relative sliding-scale is the only possible solution.

Now, Anne has given us a measurement system, a way of gauging and calibrating Left-behavior.

What Jane Goodall is to primates, Anne Sorock (aka: Anne U. So Rock) is to Lefties.

“The first step in defeating your enemy is understanding his behavior!” – ‘Red Mike’ Edson, USMC

Facts are stubborn: Bill Clinton healthcare plan in the 90s was a single payer model, whereas Obama’ ACA is the same as Romneycare as practiced in Massachusetts: a heritage inspired model based the mandate introduced in the 90s as an alternative to Clinton’s single payer model. Who is the real triangulator? Clinton’s plan was to the left of ACA. It is one thing to be a cheerleader for the president but trying to rewrite history this way is embarrassing.

Henry Hawkins | June 29, 2012 at 4:12 pm

In essence, marketing IS psychology. I’m a forensic psychologist. With the SC decision, Obama’s base moves to some degree from disappointment and ennui, to ‘yay, our side won’, but the only question is do they come out and vote or not in Novemnber? I predict this provides Obama the same temporary bump as did killing OBL, and then the man’s abject failures in the eyes of his goofy left base will resurface: the failure to close Gitmo, the failure to pass cap & trade, etc., etc.

The key to repealing Obamacare remains winning the WH, Senate, and maintaining the House majority. The key to doing that is GOP voter turnout. If it is at all important to us, time to get off our asses and do something. For instance, I’m making targeting donations and working with my local TP on registration and GOTV efforts. My wife, a Sunday school teacher among other things, is going to local churches within 30 miles or so in the same voter registration/go vote effort.

If ever there was a time for people more inclined to talk than act, NOW is the time to act.

Henry Hawkins | June 29, 2012 at 4:15 pm

‘targeted donations’

I need to start using the Preview function to edit.

[…] voter’s desire for Obamacare.  The health care reform is seen by them as in line with their “values”.  The reform is also seen as providing a sense of self-esteem in that it affirms the young […]