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Voters see political candidates as brands. Since the introduction of marketing techniques and consumption in politics, the candidate has turned into a product. In this connection between politics and marketing, today's voters are now consumers. Each election cycle, this new voter-consumer sifts through a deluge of political information (promises and guidelines) and learns about political brands in order to decide whether to vote or not and which candidates and parties to support – in the same way that consumers vote Which products and services you want to buy. It's a monumental decision, a big buy so to speak.
Although studies show that less than half of Americans have confidence in each other's ability to make informed political decisions, voter-consumers have some knowledge about political brands. Regardless of whether they are sophisticated, informed or even cynical, they are not only aware of a political brand, but also of the perceived advantages and disadvantages of the brand – their image, their feelings for it and their experiences with the brand in action. The failure or success of a political brand therefore increasingly depends on its brand quality, i. H. How it positions itself in the electoral market, but basically also how it is seen and perceived by the voters.
But how do voters-consumers choose a political brand? What matters most Drawing on my 20 years of experience as a political affairs journalist, a political speechwriter with the Government of Jamaica, an international election observer with the Commonwealth Organization, and a political scientist, I've learned five things that drive voters and consumers to make decisions before they cast their vote submit.
Voters tend to buy into political brands whose personalities resonate the most with them. The recent American elections showed us that voters are drawn to political figures who are exciting, brave, attractive, and even a little disrespectful. They are also attracted by the more affable candidate to identify with, have a drink or have a conversation with.
In other words, voters consider a political brand's sympathy and tend to qualify candidates based on their personality in making political decisions. The researchers Markus Koppensteiner and Pia Stephan support this theory. They examined the relationship between first impressions and people's tendency to prefer others whom they consider to be a similar personality. In their results, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, they conclude that “People want a candidate to have personality traits that they believe they have and therefore have very high value to them. When people don't gather that much information about candidates and their positions, they tend to rely on personality traits. "
Related: 4 Personality Traits That Will Make You an Effective Leader
Voter-Consumers place a high value on the character and credibility of a political brand when making their political decision. Despite the decline in confidence in the government, voters want to be largely represented by respected political brands. Like personality, they respond to political brands that share their core beliefs, values and ideals, and to people who see the world the way they do it. For example, in the 2016 presidential election, voters placed great emphasis on trust and character and felt they couldn't trust Hilary Clinton. A significant part of the population voted for Donald Trump instead, although he emphasized opposing values such as racism, sexism and bigotry. In contrast, many American voters were inspired by the character and candidacy of Barack Obama and shared his fundamental belief in the values of hope and change, as well as his commitment to community and morality.
What does character look like? In a six-part essay published in the Washington Post, Col. Eric Kail Kail, former Army field artillery officer and military leadership instructor at the US Military Academy at West Point, says that "leadership" involves a combination of integrity, courage, and selflessness , Empathy, collaboration and reflection. “He argues that integrity is most critical of all facets of character because it“ involves our deepest questions of honesty and motive ”. For good leadership, empathy is far more important than knowledge, ability or ability. Character-based leadership is important for voter-consumers, so they tend to consider candidates who convey admirable ethics such as decency, courtesy, integrity, faith, conscience, and empathy.
Related: 7 traits that exceptional leaders have in common
Communication skills and the brand history of a political candidate are on par with personality and character. Voter-consumers consider how well political brands “talk” before deciding whether to buy into their political agenda. Voters respond to political brands with the ability to use excellent communication practices to gain their trust and confidence. For example, Barack Obama's exceptional public speaking skills made him popular with voters during the 2008 election campaign and throughout his presidency. The success of Obama's communication skills in leadership roles was the extent to which audiences could understand his story, vision, and the way he was able to connect with people on a very human level, says Sarah Weber, political communications manager, in an article for Quantum Communications.
"Audiences crave authenticity from speakers because it indicates they really believe in their message," she writes. “In a landscape where transparency is valued more (yet harder to come by) than ever before, audiences are wary of manipulating and rotating bogus speakers. However, Obama has developed a knack for reaching an audience of thousands with the same real affect and tone that he could use in a one-on-one conversation with a coworker. "
Voters are also buying into the best-narrated political brand whose story manages to break through the noise. "There's no question that people can be seduced by a story," said Mark McKinnon, filmmaker and chief media strategist for George W. Bush's 2004 and 2008 presidential campaigns and John McCain's successful 2008 primary campaign in a 2016 interview with New York Times. McKinnon continues, “It's about telling good stories in politics, winning or losing. Win good stories. Lose campaigns without a story. “In short, voters respond to political brands that clearly and simply communicate who they are, what they are about, and whose narrative inspires them to care.
Platform and agenda
Many voter-consumers consider the platform and agenda of political brands before casting their vote. A political platform formally outlines the main goals and themes supported by political brands. A primary concern of voter-consumers is the focus of an election campaign and the goals and purpose of a political candidate – essentially what can be achieved once in office.
For example, voters are deeply interested in and involved in key platform issues that affect their daily lives. While many voters are interested in bread-and-butter issues such as education, health care and the economy, voter-consumers are also interested in broader issues such as climate change and social justice. As a result, they tend to vote for the political brands they trust to solve them.
Related: Voting is a right, exercise it wisely
Expertise and track record
Competence puts a strain on voters when they vote. Voter-consumers have a long list of concerns and tend to seek out candidates who they believe can competently address the country's most pressing problems. In short, strong, determined, and capable leadership is central to the concerns of voters. They want to know their voice goes to political brands that they believe are knowledgeable, capable, and that have the intelligence, skills, and experience to lead. They reward political brands that they believe will keep their promises and deliver results. Many voter-consumers view their vote as an investment and rightly expect a return on that investment. Unlike corporate CEOs, who are required to produce quarterly reports to show profits, losses, and market share, voters must rely on a candidate's track record.
Paradoxically, a long history in politics does not mean competence and capacity. According to Frank Newport, author of Polling Matters: Why Executives Should Listen to the Wisdom of the People, political candidates often flirt with their years of political service, understanding of how federal government works, and their ability to dig through the complexities of the population's bureaucracy in Washington as indicators of their competence. However, he argues that this can be a double-edged sword, as voters view a long tenure in politics as part of the problem rather than the solution.
While history may not be given much weight in politics, gender appears to play an important role in voters' perceptions of competence and ability. Voters hold women's political brands at a different level. "Women who run for office are more susceptible to information that compromises their skills and experience than men," says Tessa Ditonto, assistant professor of politics at Iowa State University, in an article for the Center for American Women and Women Politics, titled Candidate Skills: Is There a Double Standard? ”She argues that in the 2016 campaign, Trump's apparent ability to say and / or do almost anything without losing support is in stark contrast to Hilary Clinton, who Constantly attacked for things like "lack of judgment", does not look "presidential enough" and is not "authentic".
So when we get closer to the crucial presidential contest between Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden in November, whose brand are you investing in?