Sorry, for all your advanced intelligence, the human brain is easy to manipulate. One technique is called “priming” where a future response can be impacted by seemingly unrelated material you were exposed to previously. A 2011 study provided one example of how priming can be used to influence voters.
Researchers assembled a group of potential voters in late 2008 prior to the Obama/McCain presidential elections. During the study, one group was shown a picture of an American flag while the other group was not exposed to this image. Post-election, the actual ballots cast by the participants were tallied up.
The flag-viewing group voted for Obama 73%-27% while the group who did not encounter the patriotic stars and stripes were pro-Obama 84%-16%. The fact that all participants skewed Obama is irrelevant for purposes of the study (Democrats dominated the sample pool), but the researchers couldn’t otherwise explain the 15% difference between the two outcomes.
The American flag is supposed to be an apolitical symbol of patriotism but somehow it’s become a loaded icon imbued with Republican values. Years of the GOP stating they love America more than liberals might be paying off.
I think I’ll start watching political ads a bit differently :)