Presidential Campaigning: What Really Brings In the Votes?

14 Feb

In the past few months the GOP primary has been in full force and is incessantly being covered by major media. The pressure is on for each of the candidates, and if they make just one mistake it could mean being left behind in the presidential race. So what is it that makes a candidate receive or not receive votes?  The candidates have a set agenda of policies and ideas that they back their campaign behind, so one would think people’s votes would be made and set once they aligned themselves with a certain candidates ideas, right? Nope, instead the race is incredibly unstable and votes are always changing. Why? Because policies aren’t usually the main factor when people go to vote, what matters is how voters perceive the candidate and what kind of image the candidates have given off in there communication.

2008 Campaign

Barack Obama is a great speaker, and during his 2008 campaign he gave off the image of a powerful, confident leader who was going to promote change, and this image is the reason why he was ultimately elected. His competitor, John McCain, was unable to match Obama’s communication abilities and this lost him many votes.

While people were shouting, “yes we can,” in response to Obama, Sarah Palin was plaguing John McCain’s campaign. After being chosen as McCain’s VP, Palin made many communication errors, and she is now famous because of her many uneducated and misinformed quotes. While addressing the Tea Party, Palin wrote notes on her hand and was caught looking at the notes during her speech. The media pounced on this and other errors, and the nonstop coverage making fun of Palin made a laughing stock out of her and the McCain campaign. Perhaps if McCain had chosen a VP who was a better communicator he could have made the presidential race more competitive or even won the election.

Present Day

Currently, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum are all battling for the GOP nomination. Yes, policies and ideas for their potential upcoming term as president are important, but the winner of the GOP race will be the one who gives off the best image in their communication. The candidates need to realize that many people base their support based on perceived personality. Once they do, they can communicate themselves in a way that will take advantage of this.

Although “there’s nothing to suggest a correlation between personality and leadership skills,” the voters make their judgments largely based on the personality aspect. This is because personality is easier to grasp for voters rather than the complex policies and visions the candidates have. In the GOP race:

  • Herman Cain dropped out due to “allegations of sexual impropriety”
  • Gingrich cannot rise to the top because of his multiple marriages
  • Romney has lost support due to his continuous attacking ads on other candidates

These examples reveal something to voters about the candidates personalities, not their policies or ideas, and yet the candidates images and chances of winning have been undermined.

Communication is the key to success for presidential candidates. Communication is ongoing in forms of speeches, interviews, debates, presentations, conversations, etc. that all matter, and leaders must be able to perform well in each and every of these forms of communication to become elected.

by Jeremy Kirkwood



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