A few interesting reads on how people choose their political affiliations and candidates...
Louis Menand surveys a body of political science books (Winning Elections: Political Campaign Management, Strategy & Tactics, the classic article "The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics" by Philip Converse which is available in the OOP book Ideology and Discontent by David Apter, The Reasoning Voter, "Unenlightened Self Interest" by Larry Bartels in The American Prospect, Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America) and summarizes their arguments of how voters choose who to elect. Well worth reading for those suspicious of whether or not ideas matter the most (or at all) in a democratic election.
Steven Berlin Johnson cites a U.C.L.A. study that indicates that conversative and liberal brains may react differently to various ideas and stimuli. It's still unclear whether this phenomenon really exists, and if so, what is cause and what is effect.
Matthew Yglesias argues that Bush's past three years proves that intelligence really does matter more than character in a president. Aaron Sorkin made that exact argument in several episodes of The West Wing, most notably in "Hartsfield's Landing" in season three. The episode addresses Gore's avoidance of the intelligence argument in the 2000 election. President Bartlet says to Toby: "If a guy is a good neighbor, if he puts in a day, if every once in a while he laughs, if every once in a while he thinks about somebody else and above all else if he can find his way to compassion and tolerance then he's my brother and I don't give a damn if he didn't get past finger painting. What I can't stomach are people who are out to convince people that the educated are soft and privileged and out to make them feel like they are less than, you know, 'He may be educated but I am plain-spoken like you.' Especially when we know that education can be the silver bullet. . . . for crime, poverty, unemployment, drugs, hatred."