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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.

Inoculation Strategy against Rumors and Allegations

If voters believe rumors and allegations, it means that as a campaign or organization, you haven’t spread enough good news. This is why new candidates, who are not well-defined in the public eye, are oftentimes most vulnerable to scandals. The best inoculation strategy against a possible crisis therefore is to spread more good news. If you don't blow your own horn, there's no music.

New Trends in Political Campaigns: Experience Losing Importance

Experience – as a criterion for voters – is losing importance. Nowadays, the world is changing so fast that a younger and less experienced leader might be more able to understand current challenges. Indeed, there are several leaders who fit that category of the so-called slim fit politicians: French President Emmanuel Macron (40), Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (46), Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz (31), and former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (43). This doesn’t mean that experience has become entirely immaterial to voters, but rather that we are no longer in a situation where more experience is always better. I 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 can pass that threshold, other criteria become more important, and a comparatively young age can even be an advantage. One might ask if and how Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz passed such a threshold at the age of 31? The defining issue of last year’s campaign in Austria was the refugee crisis, and on that particular issue, he very much had both, a signature accomplishment and a political offer that was appealing to many voters.

Negative Campaigning: in Europe Top, in the U.S. Passé

Negative campaigning has long been seen as the very heart of U.S. election campaigns. In recent times, however, it seems that it has lost a lot of its effectiveness. Just look at Hillary Clinton’s campaign that has invested so much into attack ads against Donald Trump. American voters have seen so many negative ads that they have become increasingly cynical and unreceptive to them. Ironically, it’s the exact opposite in Europe. Here, negative campaigning has never been more effective than before. If you look at what has happened recently in France, Britain or Switzerland, careers have crashed and sometimes ended within a couple of weeks. Of course, negative campaigning in Europe is not done through tv ads where one candidate hits another. It’s normally carried out via the media, but no less effective.