But here's one that intrigues me, because it actually attempts to measure perceptions of presidential character in real-life terms. In a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, respondents were asked to choose between Romney and Obama in some down-to-earth situations.
Which would make a more loyal friend, the survey asked. Which would you prefer to invite to a dinner at your house? Who would you rather have take care of you when you're sick?
It's that last one that caught my attention, because we'd learn all we need to know if we could watch each of the candidates take a shift working in your facility and caring for your residents.
I'm not saying which of the two would be better at it. If we believe existing campaign caricatures, Obama would create a new government program for every patient, while Romney would stop delivering care entirely in order to save future generations.
Obama would try to inspire your patients to hope and wellness with a lengthy speech. Romney would just strap them to the roof of his car and explain how much they'll enjoy the fresh air.
Obama would socialize the break room, while Romney would put all medications on the roof and claim they would trickle down.
But beyond the polarized stereotypes, the real test would be in watching their actual interactions with patients. Which one shows the most genuine interest and compassion? Which one refuses to go home while a resident is in crisis or a family member needs support? Which one holds a resident's hand and even tears up a little when she talks about her loneliness and pain?
Perhaps most important, at the end of the shift which one has changed his perceptions of the plight of America's vulnerable elderly, and modified his policy initiatives to reflect that new understanding and empathy?
Unfortunately, that's an audition we don't get to watch. So somehow we each have to find a way to sift through the out-of-context quotes, partisan lies and smokescreen rhetoric, and find a window into their souls for an answer to the ultimate question: Which one has a heart?
Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, who cobbles these pieces together from his secret lair somewhere near the scenic, wine-soaked hamlet of Walla Walla, WA. Since his debut with SNALF.com at the end of a previous century, he has continued to amuse, inform and sometimes befuddle long-term care readers worldwide.