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.


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