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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.

Donald Trump Delivers State of the Union Address

Last night, Donald Trump delivered the State of the Union Address. In the American system, the executive and the legislative branch of government are independent from each other. But the constitution says that the president shall inform congress about the state of the union. This is the historic origin of the yearly speech. Nowadays it is of course a great opportunity for any president to deliver a message to the American people watching at home.

The tax breaks, which congress passed late last year, were a central theme in Trump’s speech. Even though I think that the long-term consequences of this will be disastrous for the deficit, it must have come across well for many American voters. The speech also contained some conciliatory words and a call for bipartisanship, but they are just that, words. A lot of the accomplishments Trump touted were in fact undoing accomplishments by the Obama administration (rolling back regulation, single-payer mandate). By the mere tone and vocabulary he is using, it is always very obvious when Trump reads a speech from a teleprompter such as last night, and when he speaks in his own words. It's not that the firing of the FBI Director, the Russia probe, the government shutdown, the changing of the voting rules to appoint Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and the twitter battles didn't happen last year. They did happen. The USA are today more polarized than they have been in probably fifty years. One of the consequences of this is also that opinions about the president are quite defined already with a majority of voters disapproving of the job he is doing. In that sense, I would assume that he will gain a few points in the surveys over the next couple of days and weeks, but I doubt the speech marks a new chapter in Trump’s presidency.

New Trends in Political Campaigns: Polarization

These are exciting times in politics! Things change and they change at an increasingly fast pace. For the beginning of this new year, I will start a new series and formulate seven trends I observed and experienced about modern political campaigns. Today we start with polarization.

Politics in many countries is getting increasingly polarized. Geographic area, gender, age and education are the main drivers behind that polarization. And, many voters seem quite happy with this situation at the moment. The zeitgeist for many voters and politicians alike is to express themselves and to like what they agree with, but not really to expose themselves to the other side’s arguments. Look at the big and emotional debates such as the refugee crisis or the #MeToo movement: Until recently, I have heard very few nuancing voices. This might be an opportunity for the right candidate or party. Sooner or later, there will again be a political demand for balancing out various opinions, cooperation, and getting things done. This is not a self-starter, but could be successful if worked out properly and once the cost of the polarization becomes too high.