My thesis in Uni (poli sci) was on the "Politics of Influence in
the US Government" and when I was working on that, I began
to develop the opinion that has dogged me ever since... namely,
that americans are ill served by voting based on their "personal
feelings about what parties stand for". This is a concept that is
so easily - and so effectively - manipulated that I'm surprised
there isn't more of a hue and cry about the whole thing.
People would be - IMHO - better served by following a formula
that prescribes the cyclical overthrow of the GOP by switching
parties, forcing new administrators (across the length and width
of the FED) into position or at the very least to reform their
government-aligned strategic plans.
The less attention paid to the historically-demonstrated-to-be
"hollow promise factory" the better.
A local government vote ... municipal councils, state government...
is vastly more "impacting" on an individuals day-to-day. The federal
votes are more about ensuring the powers-that-be do not get to cocky
with your money and your future.
In the end, it really doesn't matter who you vote for. The real influence
and power is vested in organizations that you wouldn't recognize and
wouldn't believe. Political Action Committees abound.