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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.

The Democratic National Convention

This week was the democrats’ turn to have their convention. The strategic goal the party wanted to achieve on the first night was clearly to demonstrate party unity. I think that this is pretty much accomplished. Bernie Sander’s fiery speech on Monday, but also the statement by Sanders’ wife that she will campaign for Hillary were both very important in that respect. Yes, there might be some hurt feelings among volunteers and delegates, but I can't imagine Sanders voters voting for someone like Trump.

Bill Clinton’s speech was good, but not as outstanding as the one he gave four years ago (I must admit that I have watched that one at least twenty times on youtube). Still, he’s an important messenger reminding especially the middle class of the prosperous 1990is.

When it comes to campaign skills, Barack Obama is probably one of the best skilled politicians alive. In fact, he has built his entire career around speeches. He has a strong delivery, uses simple words, but makes an important point. He was very successful in drawing contrast between the vision Republicans offered for the USA, and the one that the Democrats are putting forward. He was obviously touched and made it clear how personal defeating Donald Trump has become for him.

Hillary Clinton’s speech was strategic and well delivered. She drew clear contrast between herself and Trump. In a presidential campaign, a candidate has to pass a certain threshold. Voters have to be convinced that they see a candidate as president and in particular as commander in chief. She passed that threshold. She also presented quite a specific policy agenda which will probably appeal to swing voters. Finally, the speech was also a tremendous opportunity to communicate with millions of voters without a filter. Cleary, she used it to show a more human and personal side of herself. If this won’t help improve her notoriously low favorability ratings, then probably nothing she can do during the rest of the campaign will.

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