And no, I don't think either Vice Presidential candidate is the issue. Nor are the campaign tactics either side uses or doesn't use.
Still, those torrents are lots of fun. I've become an addict of RealClearPolitics, a website - evenly balanced, so far as I can see - that links to lots of stuff that's being written. One of the more interesting things I've noticed is the degree to which almost all pundits, on all sides of the debate, can't be trusted to tell it as it is. Try as they may, their personal preferences color what they see. The upshot is to emphasize the large extent to which these elections are about cultural issues, not political ones, and most people's likes and dislikes stem from these cultural differences.
Somewhere in my reading I came across this, an article by Jonathan Haidt, a young professor of Psychology from Virginia. He's an avowed Democrat and liberal (in the American use of the term - never forget that the Europeans use the same word for something almost opposite), and he desperately wants "his side" to win elections - but he has managed to go beyond that need and try to be empiric and rational. Although his title, "What makes people vote Republican" literally oozes of left-wing arrogance, his answer is that ultimately, it's the Republicans who have richer thought capacities, and Democrats need to understand this.
Given what it is, a professional article by a young academic, there is more jargon and academic affectation than necessary. Too many of his definitions (or those of his teachers) are not convincing. Still, eventually he gets around to this:
A Durkheimian ethos can't be supported by the two moral foundations that hold up a Millian society (harm/care and fairness/reciprocity). My recent research shows that social conservatives do indeed rely upon those two foundations, but they also value virtues related to three additional psychological systems: ingroup/loyalty (involving mechanisms that evolved during the long human history of tribalism), authority/respect (involving ancient primate mechanisms for managing social rank, tempered by the obligation of superiors to protect and provide for subordinates), and purity/sanctity (a relatively new part of the moral mind, related to the evolution of disgust, that makes us see carnality as degrading and renunciation as noble). These three systems support moralities that bind people into intensely interdependent groups that work together to reach common goals. Such moralities make it easier for individuals to forget themselves and coalesce temporarily into hives, a process that is thrilling, as anyone who has ever "lost" him or herself in a choir, protest march, or religious ritual can attest.
In several large internet surveys, my collaborators Jesse Graham, Brian Nosek and I have found that people who call themselves strongly liberal endorse statements related to the harm/care and fairness/reciprocity foundations, and they largely reject statements related to ingroup/loyalty, authority/respect, and purity/sanctity. People who call themselves strongly conservative, in contrast, endorse statements related to all five foundations more or less equally. (You can test yourself at www.YourMorals.org.) We think of the moral mind as being like an audio equalizer, with five slider switches for different parts of the moral spectrum. Democrats generally use a much smaller part of the spectrum than do Republicans. The resulting music may sound beautiful to other Democrats, but it sounds thin and incomplete to many of the swing voters that left the party in the 1980s, and whom the Democrats must recapture if they want to produce a lasting political realignment.
If you have the time, read the whole thing and ponder it. There is much in there that is diametrically opposed to most people's pat assumptions (and pet one, too). It need not be read only in the context of American politics, and it fits much of the Left-Right discussion in many democracies, certainly including Israel.