On December 1, 2020, Gordon forwarded to Whitmer’s chief of staff a PowerPoint summary on COVID political messaging, “Changing the COVID Conversation,” put together by pollster Frank Luntz working with a company called de Beaumont Foundation, based on a survey of 1,100 Americans. They “tested specific words, sentences, phrases, and attributes Americans need to hear to change their behavior and stop the spread of the coronavirus.” A significant part of the report analyzed Democrat-vs.-Republican responses. For example, one of several “warnings” Luntz emphasized, “Many Republicans refuse to follow guidelines because they argue the science keeps changing. It’s up to you to communicate – at the outset – that the science is settled.”
Much of the Luntz Report deals with wordsmithing. A table in the report categorizes words as “Words to Use” and “Words to Lose.” For example, use “protocols” and lose “orders & decrees;” use “social distancing” and lose “physical distancing.” Another Luntz recommendation is to “Call It the Pandemic,” based on his surveys that found the word “pandemic” is “more significant, serious, and scary” than the alternatives “COVID-19” and “The Coronavirus.”
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