Issues like jobs, taxes and war surely affect how people vote, but research shows that people cast their ballot based on emotional reactions to candidates.
Some political analysts have suggested that both the Republican and Democratic conventions left people confused about whether the party in power has created more jobs or fewer, and unsure about the answer to the question, "Are you better off now than four years ago?"
So how did the candidates stack up with regard to feelings? Was it any clearer?
In revealing personal aspects of their marriages and family lives in their convention speeches, the candidates seduced us by making us yearn for aspects of healthy relationships.
Here's how the candidates scored on dimensions of healthy relationships, as outlined in my book, "The Compete Idiot's Guide to a Healthy Relationship":
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's opening comments in his campaign acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Aug. 30, defined his running mate Paul Ryan first as "a man with a big heart," and later as a "caring" leader, earning Romney a score of "7."
Surveys show that "caring" is a top personal quality women seek in a partner. Just as the heart provides essential lifeblood, a big heart indicates highly desirable generosity and compassion. These qualities humanize Ryan as well as Romney, himself -- highlighting softer, loving traits.
Romney's definition of his parents' unconditional love, as if straight out of a psychology textbook, earned him an exceptionally powerful score of "10." Unconditional love is the best foundation parents can provide for a child's growth, self-esteem and confidence in pursuing their dreams.
"My mom and dad gave their kids the greatest gift of all -- the gift of unconditional love," Romney said. "They cared deeply about who we would BE, and much less about what we would DO."
Such support is often out of adults' reach, constricted by criticisms and judgments, yet it is an ideal to strive for. In parenting with unconditional love, disapproval can be directed at a behavior, not who the child IS.
Similarly, love between partners should not depend on what you look like, earn, do or say, but be extended for who you are inside as a person.
Love heals and nurtures.
"All the laws and legislation in the world will never heal this world like the loving hearts and arms of mothers and fathers," said Romney, earning him a score of "10" for elevating love over power or rules. "If every child could drift to sleep feeling wrapped in the love of their family -- and God's love -- this world would be a far more gentle and better place."
Indeed, putting children to bed and waking them up with a cheerful and loving spirit prepares them to grow up being kind and peaceful adults.
Couples should do the same for each other to be better able to face inevitable stresses of the day. Loving and feeling loved reduces anger that fuels aggression and attempts at control.