For the final part of my election trilogy, I wanted to try and answer the ultimate question: how do you win an election in the first place?
I tried answering this question, perhaps in a roundabout manner, the last time this all happened. The article was called Why Donald Trump is so Successful but I think within the post I got more at why I thought he was going to win the election in the first place. It hits at the singular idea that at the heart of any Democratic election is a popularity contest.
Practically the number one barometer for how successful a candidate is, is how many times their name is mentioned. Donald Trump was constantly in the pocket in the media, and so was Obama before him, and W. before that, etc. etc.
Of course, there are still people who will get angry and, while they will serve as a microphone piece for the candidate, they will still not vote for the candidate themselves. And I actually think that, even though Trump is getting much more publicity than Biden, Trump might actually not win this time around. There’s a difference between getting people to know your name and making enemies. You’re not going to get anywhere if a lot of people know who you are and every single one hates you.
For the most part, policy does not matter. Policy only matters to a small subset of particularly educated individuals within the United States. Most vote on feeling. Therefore your goal should be to use communicative strategies to get people to feel liked and respected. And, if you pay attention, most politicians spend their time doing that rather than focusing on policy. Let policy wait until you’re actually elected.
This also explains why incumbents are so often victors in the second running. You’ve spent a whole four years hearing their names; of course they’re going to sound good to you!
Since I’m writing this two months in advance of its publication and five months in advance of the election, I’m not going to bother making any predictions here. All I will say is that I believe the candidate who best follows these rules will win.