...here are the words of Ronald Reagan's pollster, Richard Wirthlin, as recorded in one of the main Reagan strategy documents from 1980: "People act on the basis of their perception of reality; there is, in fact, no political reality beyond what is perceived by the voters."
From Thomas Frank's opinion piece in today's The Wall Street Journal.
It is worth noting that in 1980 Reagan beat Carter by a landslide 489 to 49 votes in the electoral college. It would seem that this has been a key strategy since then. The current market situation is evidence of how wrong this position is. The past 25 years in politics are also evidence of how effective it can be if the conditions are right. The failure and cynicism of this position comes evident when that which is indeed a reality but is outside the perception of voters comes into dramatic play, as in the current market collapse. The first half of the statement is true. People do act based on their perceptions of reality. And those perceptions are shaped largely by their own knowledge bases, by the information that they access and by the forms in which it arrives to them.