A friend (who did not grow up in the US) was complaining to me the other day that "Americans vote based on personalities, not on policies."
To which I responded, rather vigorously, that even if we wanted to vote based on policies there wasn't a lot of real information out there; how could we really determine what a campaign's policies were if Exhibit A continually contradicts itself ("The fundamentals of the economy are strong... no, they're weak... no, the American worker is strong..." and arguing for both more and less federal regulation in the same sentence!) and Exhibit B promises hope-&-change but is just a smidge vague on the specifics.
"I was listening to NPR the other day," I said," and they were interviewing both Obama and McCain's economic advisers, and the interviewer asked each of them how their candidate planned to help the American worker. And both of these people said the exact same thing: they plan to create more jobs and improve health insurance. And the interviewer didn't press any further. So how are we supposed to honestly evaluate these policies?"
In short, of course it comes down to personality, or to the few clear-cut policy issues like abortion/guns/gays.
Unless there's a font of detailed policy information out there that I haven't yet found; somewhere besides the NYT and Wonkette and Salon (okay, I know it wouldn't be on Salon, but...).
Where should curious Americans go to make their educated political choices?