A Marketing Pro Looks at Voting

Seth Godin, Voting, misunderstood:

This year, fewer than 40% of voting age Americans will actually vote.

A serious glitch in self-marketing, I think.

If you don't vote because you're trying to teach politicians a lesson, you're tragically misguided in your strategy. The very politicians you're trying to send a message to don't want you to vote. Since 1960, voting turnouts in mid-term elections are down significantly, and there's one reason: because of TV advertising.

Political TV advertising is designed to do only one thing: suppress the turnout of the opponent's supporters. If the TV ads can turn you off enough not to vote (“they're all bums”) then their strategy has succeeded.

The astonishing thing is that voters haven't figured this out. As the scumminess and nastiness of campaigning and governing has escalated and the flakiness of candidates appears to have escalated as well, we've largely abdicated the high ground and permitted selfish partisans on both sides to hijack the system.

Voting is free. It's fairly fast. It doesn't make you responsible for the outcome, but it sure has an impact on what we have to live with going forward. The only thing that would make it better is free snacks.

Even if you're disgusted, vote. Vote for your least unfavorite choice. But go vote.

I'm not sure that negative advertising is intended simply to suppress the other side's vote. I think the people who do it believe that they can make their candidate the lesser of two evils by defining the other gal/guy as evil incarnate, and that this does translate into votes.

But it's interesting to see an outsider's perspective.

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2 Responses to A Marketing Pro Looks at Voting

  1. Vic says:

    At least if you don’t bother voting, you’ve got no business complaining about the results of the election.

    Based on the current Florida advertisements…I can’t imagine WHO they are aimed at. At BEST they are aimed at each side’s own perceived core supporters, which seems a pointless waste of money, but what do I know, I work for a living.

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