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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.

James Carville: “Don’t let the little crap get in the way of the big shit”

During election campaigns, we spend numerous hours discussing details that actually don’t matter. Should the candidate wear a different tie? What give-away should the campaign produce? Does the candidate smile nicely on the picture? I can’t think of any candidate who has lost an election because of the tie he was wearing. James Carville, an American political consultant, famously said: “Don’t let the little crap get in the way of the big shit.” Indeed, it’s the big shit that decides elections, usually there is one defining issue. Election campaigns are a communication process and usually get lost when the people you are trying to reach don’t get what you are trying to tell them, or forget about it, or don’t want to hear it, or if it doesn’t connect with them at an emotional level. Sometimes we all get caught up in the daily business, but the end of the year and the beginning of the new year is always a good moment to spend some time thinking about the upcoming challenges: What are the big, basic decisions in your next campaign? Happy New Year to all of you. Thank you for reading and sharing my blog posts and all the best for 2018!

Checklist for a Winning Campaign Message

In my last post, I wrote that a good campaign message should be simple and understandable. While this is a necessary pre-condition, it takes more for a winning campaign message. Here's a checklist for a winning campaign message I learned from Dr. Ronald Faucheux's book Running for Office. A good message should be:

•    Short
•    Relevant
•    Believable
•    Show contrast
•    A coherent narrative
•    Written down in a campaign plan
•    Tested
•    Be repeated over and over again
•    Fully communicated

A Winning Campaign Message

In every campaign, there is talk about slogans, issues and messages. Few campaigns communicate a message the way I understand it: The message is a coherent reason and narrative why voters should vote for your side and not one of the other sides. I always tell my clients: A good message is more than a slogan, yet less than a party platform. To begin with, a good message has to be simple. This doesn’t mean that it should be empty of content (I would never advocate that!), but it should be understandable.

In that respect, a recent study by Daniel Bischof and Roman Senninger is very interesting. The two authors analyzed 175 party manifestos of German and Austrian parties. It covered a time period from 1945-2013. They found out that, on the average, the language the parties used was more complicated than the language used in the German newspaper Die Zeit (measured by counting the number of words per sentence and by assessing the complexity of the words used). Heck, the party language was more complex than literature written by German authors such as Franz Kafka or Thomas Mann. No wonder voters look for an alternative that is easier to understand.

Austrian Elections: Center-Right and Populist Right Grow Simultaneously

The Austrian people has spoken pretty clearly last Sunday. Two parties, the center-right OEVP and the populist right FPOE, who both campaigned on the issue of immigration, have won the elections. It is noteworthy that the two parties grew at the same time. The OEVP won a stunning additional 7.6% while the FPOE added 5.5%. to its previous score. In the past, it would usually be either the OEVP or the FPOE that would win voters. As a general rule, it is also dangerous for a center-right party to campaign on the issues of the far right. As French Jean-Marie Le Pen famously said, French voters vote for the original. In the case of Sebastian Kurz, however, campaigning on the traditional issue of the FPOE didn’t backfire. One of the reasons for this is that as a foreign minister who was instrumental in closing the so-called Balkan route, Kurz had his very own and personal credibility as a messenger on the issue.

What Could Martin Schulz Have Done Differently?

After my last post, some readers asked me what Schulz could have done differently. Well, there is no obvious answer. To begin with, elections are usually decided by one big, defining issue. In the last German election, that one issue was obviously the refugee crisis. The problem is that on that particular issue, neither Schulz nor the SPD can show an appealing, credible difference to Angela Merkel and the CDU.

Another problem was timing. Schulz became the top candidate at the end of January. He certainly had a lifelong experience as a politician in Brussels, but with respect to campaign skills, he entered the race mostly unprepared. It’s close to impossible to launch an effective campaign within eight months. As a consultant, I have been in similar situations where I had to turn down lucrative projects a few weeks before the election simply because it was too late.

Finally, the candidate Schulz and the party really didn't match. As a general rule, it’s best to campaign as a free man. I assume that’s why the SPD chose Schulz. But as the Spiegel report shows, the party then apparently didn’t give the candidate the freedom he would have needed to run such a campaign. The SPD is the prisoner of the grand coalition with Merkel’s CDU and during the campaign, it made Schulz part of that prison.

Insider Report about Martin Schulz’s Challenger Campaign

I just read an interesting insider report published by the German magazine Der Spiegel about the campaign of the SPD and its top candidate, Martin Schulz. Apparently, Schulz wanted to go on the offense against incumbent chancellor Angela Merkel, but was advised not to so by the party operatives. Apparently, the party had research showing that attacking Merkel would turn off voters. I am flabbergasted, because I really don’t know any political consultant who would advise not to go on the offense in such a situation. As I wrote in my book on challenger campaigns (How to Overcome the Power of Incumbency in Election Campaigns), a challenger basically has to make two points:

A)    He has to make the case for change and that the incumbent needs to be replaced

B)    He has to make the case that he or she is better than the incumbent

It’s beyond me how one could make either argument without going on the offense. Yes, Schulz was a man running against a woman so he needs to be careful. But nevertheless, the question for me is how to go on the offense, not whether or not to do so. And as the election result shows, there was deep dissatisfaction with Merkel below the surface (which qualitative public opinion research would and should have shown).

Going back to the research the SPD did, I had similar conversations within campaign teams myself. I often use public opinion research in order to find out what voters know, think, feel and want, and to guide the campaign accordingly. Heck, as all politicos, I’m an addict of public opinion research. But we should never ask voters expert questions. Voters will always say that they don’t like negative campaigns, but that doesn’t mean that negative campaigns are not effective - if done properly and in the right tone. After all, an election campaign is about showing differences.

The Purpose of a Campaign Slogan

The purpose of a good campaign slogan is to summarize the main campaign message in a simple and catchy way. Ideally, a slogan should also show favorable contrast between you and your competitors. The leader of the German SPD, Martin Schulz, used the slogan “Es ist Zeit” (It’s time). When I travelled through Germany these past weeks, I often saw billboards where the second part of the slogan (…for more social justice) was barely visible. As a result of it, I wondered what he means: It’s time for what? The slogan seemed to make little sense and barely shows contrast with the CDU. Now the German voters have answered the question: It’s time for the SPD to go into the opposition.

2017 German Parliamentary Elections: Surveys and Forecast Models

The German Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote last, last Saturday on page one that surveys are often wrong. I wouldn’t put it that way. Yes, survey companies face new challenges, but these challenges didn’t annul the basic laws of statistics and probability. The problem is that even in political circles, many people don’t know what public opinion research can and can not do. And in addition to that, some clients are also hesitant to invest into solid enough research designs.

To begin with, one survey is never a prediction of the outcome (and even less of the winner) of an election. If one is interested in a forecat for the upcoming German elections, however, I can recommend a project that five electoral researchers from the universities of Mannheim, Zurich and HU Berlin have launched. Together, they developed a powerful forecast model which they publish on their website www.zweitstimme.org. Their calculations are based on two components: the structural and the polling component. With respect to the structural component, they take into account information such as the performance of parties in past elections. Together with survey data from different sources, they then calculate forecasts for the parties' performance (with a certain statistical uncertainty). They then update their figures continuously as soon as new survey data are published. Their forecast a few days before the election is as follows: CDU 36,3, SPD 23,0%, AfD 9,9%, Linke 9,5%, FDP 9,2%, Grüne 7,8%.

Prof. Hanspeter Kriesi Wins Mattei Dogan Foundation Prize 2017

Congratulations to my phd father Prof. Hanspeter Kriesi, who won the Mattei Dogan Foundation Prize 2017. The jury wrote:

In awarding this prize, we recognise his prolific and much-cited academic output, the quality of his theoretical and empirical contributions over several decades, his leadership and collaborative engagement with senior and junior scholars alike.’

Wow!!! Based on my own experiences, I can only agree. Much deserved award! Congratulations Hanspeter and keep up the fantastic work!

If You Want Something, You Will Find Ways.....

I once conducted a workshop with a labor union on how to launch a campaign to get more members. The campaign would ultimately be successful, mostly because my client, the head of the union, relentlessly pushed his team to implement our plan. However, with respect to some members of the union leadership, it felt a bit like pulling teeth at the beginning of the process. I would hear plenty of reasons why a specific action could not be taken in their specific context. This reminded me of the saying: “If you want something, you will find ways. If you don’t want something, you will find reasons.” I don’t remember who said it, but the person deserves great credit. On these words, I wish you all a great summer. I will be back here early September. Cheers!

Great Campaigns Are Never a Rerun of Previous Great Campaigns

How will your next campaign be different from your last one? I remember how I once asked a prospective client who wanted to run for higher office how his upcoming campaign will be different from the previous ones. I could see in his face that he has never thought about it that way. I always tell my clients who run for re-election and particularly those who run for higher office that their next campaign has to be different than their last one. Great campaigns may well contain elements of previous great campaigns, but they should never be a simple rerun.

Time Is the Most Important Ressource in a Campaign

Many people think that money is the most important ressource in a campaign. While campaign funds are definitely of essence, I have come to realize that time is even more important. One of the biggest mistakes campaign teams make is not to start planning early. Some politicians are hesitant to start early because they don’t want to spend early. As a result, they waste time. When there is no more time to be wasted, they then start to waste money. I have turned down business worth several tens of thousands of dollars from clients who have approached me when it was too late, a couple of weeks before the election. There’s no point for me to start an operation when the patient is dead. This being said, one of the most important things for campaign teams to do early on is to neutralize weaknesses. A so-called inoculation strategy takes time to be implemented. Your candidate might be seen as too old or too young, for example. Or your party may be perceived as elitist. All these things can be dealt with from a marketing perspective. They may never turn into strengths, but they can be neutralized over time. What is the inoculation plan for your campaign?

Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl: An Outstanding Campaigner

Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl died last Friday. His historic accomplishments with respect to the European Union and the German reunification have rightfully been praised in many media outlets. I would like to add that from a campaign perspective, Kohl was an extraordinary talent. To begin with, he ruled Germany for sixteen years. He led the German Christian Democratic Party CDU through five nationwide elections – coming close to the absolute majority twice. If you add to this the countless European and statewide elections, Kohl was truly a campaign machine. His biggest achievement in that respect was probably the 1994 elections. A few months before Germany went to the polls, Kohl was far behind in the surveys, but he was able to – single handedly - pull off a stunning comeback. A key moment in this comeback was Kohl’s speech at the CDU party convention, which I highly recommend reading to anyone interested in campaigns.

Realness and Authenticity Win Elections

As different as they may be, Donald Trump, Jeremy Corbyn and Rodrigo Duterte have one thing in common. I think that behind the camera they are more or less the same as in front of the camera. Among others, one key take-away from last year’s U.S. and Philippine presidential elections, and the UK parliamentary elections last week is that nowadays, authenticity wins elections. Even if voters don’t agree with everything a candidate says, they’re willing to forgive it in exchange of realness.

The Generation of Slim Fit Politicians

Last week, I gave a speech at the External Asset Management Day 2017, organized by Credit Suisse. Among other things, we also discussed the so-called slim fit generation consisting of young, dynamic politicians. Indeed, there are several leaders who fit that category at the moment: French President Emmanuel Macron (39), Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (45), and, former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (42). Sebastian Kurz (30) was recently elected as the leader of the Austrian OEVP.

Louis Perron delivering a speech at the External Asset Management Day 2017,
organized by Credit Suisse

This is a phenomenon that we do not only observe in politics, but also in the private sector and the academic world: A new generation of ambitious leaders which is aggressively pursuing their careers. They are a good match for the current Zeitgeist. Nowadays, things are changing so fast that a younger leader might be more able to understand current challenges. This doesn’t mean that experience is no longer important for voters, but we are no longer in a situation where more experience is always better. I rather look at it like a threshold, meaning that a candidate needs to convince voters that he is able to do the job. Once a candidate can make that case, and pass that treshold, other criteria become more important, and a comparatively young age can even be an advantage.

This being said, young, attractive leaders in politics are nothing new in itself. I would say that it started with John F. Kennedy during the 1960is when television became important in political communication. What is noteworthy today is how young the young leaders are. This is particularly the case with 30-year-old Austrian Sebastian Kurz. French President Emmanuel Macron is also an interesting case as his rise to power went along with the total collapse of the old party system. Indeed, France used to be a political system where one had to wait in line for a long time and usually make several attempts before winning the presidency.

More about the generation of slim fit politicians in the Swiss news show 10vor10:

Innovation in Political Campaigns

Kiki Bakker of the Dutch VVD party recently spoke at the CampaignTech Europe conference in Berlin about innovation for campaigns. According to her, it takes three things for political campaigners to innovate:
  • Raise more money
  • Use every (local) election to try out new things
  • Hire people that are smarter than you
I totally agree with her. In my experience, very few parties in Europe do all three of them.

French versus U.S. Presidential Elections: Polls and Mandate

U.S. pollsters got a lot of heat last year for having failed to predict Trump's win. To begin with, polls are never a prediction. Second, as we now know, the nationwide polls have actually been quite accurate. In the surveys right before the election, Clinton was leading by 3%-4%. On Election Day, she won the popular vote by 2%. The problem is that a U.S. presidential election is not a nationwide election. It’s a state-by-state election and therefore it doesn’t only matter how many votes a candidate gets, but where he gets them!

Harry Enten from fivethirtyeight made a good point in that respect the other day: The recent French presidential election will hardly be remembered as a failure for the polling industry, when in fact, pre-election polls were quite off. The average poll conducted after the first round saw Macron ahead by 22%. On Election Day, he won by 32% over Le Pen. That’s a gap of 10% between the surveys and the actual result, and the biggest one in recent French polling history.

Guy Verhofstadt, the former Belgian Prime Minister, made a similar point in the New York Times recently. There was much talk after the French elections that Macron only won because voters voted against Le Pen and not for him, and that therefore, he would have little of a mandate. Trump’s win, on the other hand, was often reported as a fundamental change in politics. Well, as Verhofstadt argues, there is another way to look at it which is actually based on numbers: Trump won with 46.4% of the vote and a voter turnout of 55%. Macron won with 66% of the vote and a turnout of 74%.

Political Consulting Abroad

I have done work in several countries in Eastern Europe and South-East Asia. Last year alone, I have helped win more than a dozen difficult election campaigns. Some consultant colleagues of mine sometimes ask me how I get business in these countries. The answer is actually very simple: The more time I spend in a country, the more business I get there.

The Assembly Democracy System ‘Landsgemeinde’: The Best Form of Direct Democracy?

Guest article by Johanna Burger, trainee at Perron Campaigns

Being a federal political system, Switzerland is divided into 26 cantons (similar to states) where each canton has some power of decision. Each of them has the ability to make decisions in several political matters on its own. Usually, these decisions – elections and votes – are made by the voters of this very canton with a ballot-box vote. Nowadays, there are just two cantons that know another voting system for cantonal matters: the assembly democracy. Last Sunday, voters in Appenzell Inner Rhodes gathered together to fulfill their civic duty (however voting is not compulsory there).  Next Sunday, voters in Glarus will assemble to do the same. This form of voting has often been called a utopia concerning theory of democracy: In principle, every voter can take the floor and express his or her opinion. In addition, voting once a year together at the same place and at the same time is a deeply rooted tradition that is being appreciated and celebrated by the residents of Glarus and Appenzell Inner Rhodes.

However, one could find some aspects in this political process that do not represent a perfect democracy. For instance, lack of secrecy of the ballot is an often-given argument by the critics. Furthermore, an assembly system requires the voters to actually and physically be at one place at a specific time. This is not feasible for several people as the elderly, people who have to work, people who are on vacation on this particular Sunday, etc. Moreover, the fact that the majority of votes is being estimated by members of the cantonal government is an aspect of the Landsgemeinde that is often criticized.

In the (recent) past, more cantons knew this assembly voting system. However, a lot of them switched to the ballot-box voting system. Although there are just the two cantons Appenzell Inner Rhodes and Glarus that still work with it nowadays, even these two systems differ: Voters in Glarus can vote and elect some people for cantonal concerns at the assembly. Other matters are being decided in a ballot-box vote. Another difference between the two Swiss Landsgemeinde systems is the possibility to suggest amendments of a law. In Appenzell Inner Rhodes, voters can just reject or accept laws. In Glarus however, every voter has the possibility to suggest modifications of a law’s wording. The electorate can reject or accept these modifications immediately. This way, it is possible that voters in Glarus end up with a new law that has never been discussed by the government with this particular wording before. An example for this would be the drastic merger of the 27 previously existing communes into just three of them in 2006. (Initially, the government suggested 10 new communes. Then, one citizen came up with the idea of just three of them.)

Despite all the criticism, a lot of voters in Glarus und Appenzell Inner Rhodes want to keep their political tradition. The three political scientists Marlène Gerber, Hans-Peter Schaub and Sean Müller from the university of Berne conducted a survey about this in Glarus in 2016. They conclude that most of the questioned voters want to keep their political tradition.

Strengths and Weaknesses in an Election Campaign

What should you do in an election campaign: emphasize your own strengths or neutralize your weaknesses? In most cases, it’s a smart combination of the two. An important factor in this respect is time because it takes time to neutralize weaknesses. The less time you have, the more you should just harp on your strengths. In the long run, wise politicians and candidates work on neutralizing their weaknesses. In the campaign jargon, we call this "inoculation" strategies.

The Art and Science of Focus Group Discussions

Last year alone, I have conducted more than 60 focus group discussions in Switzerland and various other countries as basis for political campaigns. It’s a very powerful and much-underestimated tool – not only for the private sector, but also for politics! Both in academia and in the real world, there is often a rather silly debate between believers of quantitative (surveys, polls) and qualitative (focus group discussions) public opinion research. In my experience, the two mutually complement each other. Simply put, the focus groups explain the “why” behind the numbers of a survey. A focus group usually consists of about eight respondents. They are not just a bunch of friends gathered together, but a carefully defined and recruited target group. While a very effective tool, a thousand details are involved in making sure that accurate data is obtained. Respondents chosen must feel comfortable enough to talk and must walk away from it without knowing for whom the discussion was for. Depending on the situation, you could choose to analyze undecided voters, voters who lean softly towards your candidate or any specific socio-economic group you are interested in. (I once had a client with a stunning 90% approval rating. Going for the gold, he wanted to do a focus group with respondents from the 10% who disapproved of his job. But that’s rather rare). During the actual discussion, the respondents sit together in a neutral room and are interviewed for about two hours. For this, we use a semi-structured discussion guide. Based on focus group data, I have told clients what projects to focus on and even how to name them, how to make up for mistakes during a situation of a crisis, and how to take advantage of the competition’s weaknesses. Focus groups have revealed what campaign tools to use, what ads to air and how to tweak them to make them more effective. I’ve even used it to explore how to change the physical appearance or behavior of the top candidate. And yes, there have been occasions during the past ten years that I have told clients, based on data, not to run (those who followed my advice were forever grateful).

Election Campaigns and the Electoral System

Elections are not isolated events. They take place within a macro-political system. In other words, the electoral system, party system, political culture, legal regulations etc. all shape election campaigns and election results. It is therefore always important to understand, for example, the mechanics, implications and dynamics of an electoral system.

If the U.S. had the electoral system of France (no Electoral College, but a nationwide election with a runoff), Hillary Clinton would likely be at the White House right now. The story in the media would be how the Republican Party could choose a candidate which is so far off the mainstream. If France had the electoral system of the Netherlands (proportional party-list system), Marine Le Pen had good chances to end Election Day in the same position as Mark Rutte, which is that of the leader of the biggest party and with the first shot at forming a government (which she, admittedly, would be unlikely to succeed).

Right-wing Populism in Europe

After the elections in the Netherlands, there were many articles in the (international) media about right-wing populism in Europe. I find many of those analyses rather biased and one-sided. They all seem to assume that voting for a right-wing party is in itself and by definition something bad and that there is something fundamentally wrong with people who do it. Just for the records, I have so far never worked for a right-wing party. This being said, people are free to vote for whatever legal party they want to vote for. If we as political players, operators and politicians don’t like the way people vote, it’s up to us to make our case more convincingly. Many of the mentioned analyses write about the fears that right-wing voters apparently have, mostly fears of immigrants, other religions or globalization in general. Emotions normally play a role in politicial campaigns, but I nevertheless find this rather arrogant talk. Voters are not afraid, they just happen to disagree with the ruling elite on some key issues. It’s actually that kind of stigmatization and talking down to voters that has helped grow right-wing parties, for example in Austria and France.

Cost-Efficient Media Training

There are more so-called media coaches than people who are actually able to do great media appearances. I always tell my clients that the cheapest, most efficient media training is to watch the tape of your last tv appearance ALONE. If you want to go further than that and get some inspiration, watch a couple of interviews by Kellyanne Conway (see my last blog post).

Kellyanne Conway: Rhetorical Strategies

Kellyanne Conway is an adviser to President Donald Trump and probably one of the most important players in the new White House. She came on board to lead Trump’s presidential campaign back in last August when few people would have given Trump a chance to win. Before joining Trump, she worked as a political consultant and pollster specializing on female voters. She is an extremely disciplined messenger and therefore can indeed provide a lot of value to her boss. That’s probably also the reason why she did a lot of media interviews defending Trump (some might say that Conway actually won the race for Trump). In a talk with the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger (see below), I analyzed some of her rhetorical strategies:

  1. She has a crystal-clear message that she is communicating. In fact, she uses the question of the reporter as a pretext to communicate her own message.
  2. Conway is frequently in the (counter-)offense. As we say in sports: the best defense is a good offense.
  3. She picks up one word of the reporter’s question, but then talks about something else.
  4. When reporters insist, she tries to escape. One of these incidences, which has now become famous, is when she threw out the concept of “alternative facts”.
What Conway does is nothing new to the world of U.S. news television, which is actually based on confrontation. She however does it with more discipline and more charm than others. You can find out more about Kellyanne Conway’s rhetorical strategies in said interview in the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger published on February 17:

Running for Office

When one is running for office, the highs are very high, and the lows are very low. We should keep that in mind when we deal with candidates. Candidates always tell me that everybody tells them they will vote for them. I always respond to them with the simple one third rule which Dr. Ronald Faucheux taught me more than a decade ago at the Graduate School of Political Management: out of all the people who tell you that they will vote for you, one third might vote for you, one third doesn’t give a damn either way, and one third is lying to your face. As a politician friend of mine says: “In politics, the only one who cares about you is yourself”.

Money is Overestimated in Election Campaigns

Last week, I taught for the sixth time my class in political marketing at the University of Zurich. Among many things, one point that we discussed was the fact that money is overestimated in political campaigns. It takes enough money to implement a winning campaign plan. The best plan obviously doesn’t do anything good if you don’t have the money to implement it. But money alone doesn’t communicate a message nor does it mobilize voters.

This being said, I would even go as far and say that too much money can be counterproductive in a campaign. Planning a campaign means to reach difficult decisions regarding the message, the target audience and the mix of tools used. If there is too much money, one tends to avoid making these decisions and instead trying to solve everything with money. I have seen it happening.

Decision to Run or Not to Run

As a political consultant, I make a living by helping candidates win elections. In the past, I have helped two dozen candidates win difficult races. Some of them are very grateful to me and we maintain good relationships and keep doing business together. This being said, some of my biggest fans ironically are clients whom I told NOT to run. It may have been painful at the moment, but it saved them a lot of money and humiliation. Potential candidates are always surrounded by people who tell them to run. Why? Because these people make money out of them if they do decide to run. I had situations where I took a poll and based on the data told the client honestly that he should not run. They were forever grateful.

The Impact of Rumors and Allegations in Political Campaigns

I often tell my clients who are incumbent governors, senators or mayors: If voters believe bad news such as rumors or allegations and it affects your ratings, it means that you haven’t spread enough good news. So let’s spread more good news!

Maximize the Home Base: You’re Not a King If You Don’t Have a Kingdom

A candidate who wants to run for higher office has to strengthen and maximize the home base (geographic, socio-demographic, ideological). You’re not a king if you don’t have a kingdom!

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.