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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.

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.

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