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This blog offers an international look at the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. Indeed, campaigners worldwide are fascinated with American election campaigns. We observe relentless paid television advertising, straight-forward attack spots, sophisticated targeting and record-breaking fundraising. One cannot – and should not – simply copy paste American campaign techniques. However, campaigners out there in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia can get a lot of inspiration and specific takeaways from the most professional campaign in the world. This is the purpose of this blog.

Transition of Power in the USA

Barack Obama delivered an emotional farewell address last week. He is one of the most skilled politicians alive when it comes to public speaking and has built his entire career on speeches. It therefore doesn’t come as a surprise to me that his speech was a firework. Awarding the country’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to Joe Biden was just another illustration of the dignity with which he ends his term.

Soon Donald Trump will move into the White House. He won the election with 46% of the vote. Ever since his victory speech on election night, he has done little to reach out to the majority of the country that did not vote for him. That’s part of the reason why in almost every poll, more voters see Trump unfavorably than favorably. As he enters the White House, he is the President-elect with the least public support since the beginning of polling. Democrats anyways see Trump as sort of an operational accident.

This will make the mid-term elections of 2018 crucially important. In a way, it will be the second round of the 2016 presidential election. In this respect, it is important to remember the highly disputed 2000 presidential election where Al Gore won the popular vote, but George Bush won the majority in the Electoral College. Two years later, Republicans won a great victory in the mid-term elections, which gave George Bush’s presidency an important boost.

If Trump is smart, he will reach out and try to build some consensus around his key priorities, namely job creation, and get it done. One thing that President Trump has going for him in that respect is that he doesn’t owe any favors to Republican leaders in Congress. He won it without them. This being said, early signs indicate that he will govern the way he campaigned, namely in a divisive and confrontational way.

Public affairs and lobbying

In lobbying and public affairs, most companies and interest groups spend way too much time and resources on trying to influence decisions which we can barely influence. On the other hand, we don’t spend nearly enough time trying to adapt to and making the best out of new situations. Many of my public affairs clients agree with this.

All the best for 2017!

There is no such fascinating thing as an election campaign! My grandfather was sort of a sheriff, which was an elected position. In his office, he had a folder where he kept all the campaign materials. I remember that as a little boy, I spent hours looking at that folder. Somehow, I was fascinated. I went on to study political science, was politically active myself and now I run a political consulting business. But it’s still the same passion for campaigns, and in particular for winning campaigns. Enthusiasm is contagious! In that sense, I wish all the readers of this blog only the best for your campaigns in 2017!