Patrick Skarr, Account Supervisor
With early voting underway and the final tally less than two weeks out, we are close to getting this maddening electoral cycle behind us. In the weeks and months after the election, there will be an explosion of analysis and critiques. We’ll hear from every expert in the world about how they would have made different decisions that would have lead to electoral success.
Journalists will peddle books detailing internal squabbles amongst campaign staff. While these works can be entertaining “junk-food” education to political junkies, to quote our vice president, the idea that they provide any useful analysis is pure “malarkey.”
If we want to learn anything from this year’s campaigns, it’s more efficient and informative to look across the country and our state at the races that were not supposed to be competitive and figure out how they came to be.
Even if the insurgent and improbable candidate fell short, these electoral anomalies provide helpful insight in the mood of the electorate and effective strategies for talking with – not at, key constituency groups and community influencers.
Does social media engagement and advertising move voter actions at the polls, or is it simply a new and different way of interacting with base voters? What communications tools can help balance a race where there is an asymmetrical funding? What strategies and forums build interest in down-ballot or lesser-known issues? What messages best move voter behavior?
In a campaign, like in business and life, we have to efficiently allocate our resources. So while we’d all like to conduct focus groups and test strategies repeatedly, we have deadlines to meet and decisions to make. Business leaders need to decide if investing in a website will obtain favorable earned media, or if setting the social media world ablaze is the best path forward for their immediate need.
Not everything in life is politics. There are clearly defined limits on how much we can learn from political communication and behavioral thought analysis. There are obvious dissentions between communicating with voters and releasing a new product, generating buzz about an event, or explaining a difficult decision.
However, politics is one of the few times when across almost every demographic imaginable, individuals in large masses engage, involve and participate. They get their information and make decisions and take clearly defined actions that we can analyze, interpret and make sense of.
In just a few short weeks campaign season ends and we can learn a few things from the races that didn’t dominate the horse-race coverage of the past 18 months.