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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.

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!