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Reason and emotion: this is how to intelligently engage a voter


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The Conversation

Carlos Barrera

Director Academic of Master's Degree in Political and Corporate Communication, University of Navarra.

The democratic liturgy presents, in a regular and recurrent way, some peak moments called elections. These are times in which the search for votes for an acronym or a candidate becomes the primary goal of those who choose to become legitimate representatives of the people, whether at national, regional or local level, or even supranational, as in the case of the European Parliament.

Although a politician always acts in permanent campaign mode, the proximity of a quotation at the polls makes him enter a special period of zeal where, following the simile of King Midas, everything he touches is a vote.

In Spain, political parties are already fine-tuning their electoral machinery in preparation for the local and regional elections of May 2023. Intense months lie ahead, a prelude to the possible general elections at the end of the year, hence its importance as a test or as a real-time survey of the PSOE and its government partner .

The cases of the U.S. and the U.K.

In the United States, the so-called midterm elections -midterm elections also measure the strengths of Democrats and Republicans for control of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Biden could see his executive capacity restricted if both fall on the Republican side.

In the United Kingdom, no one can yet rule out the calling of elections to Parliament following successive hecatombs by the Conservatives in government, where issue 10 Downing Street is becoming more and more like an Airbnb apartment.

There have been and will continue to be elections all over the known world, and it will always be necessary to call in the campaign experts to make the most of them. The stakes are too high to leave it to amateurs.

Although most of those who work in political communication do so within government Structures , since they are the most stable over time, it is no less true that electoral campaigns continue to be attractive for political and strategic consultancy service professionals, given the amount of resources involved and the importance of what is at stake.

This is also true for scholars and, of course, there is much more academic literature on electoral and campaign communication than on government communication, despite the upturn that the latter has been acquiring.

The value of intermediaries

We live in times characterized by the speed at which events occur and the instantaneousness with which all subject information is transmitted. Moreover, the era of unidirectional information from sender to receiver through traditional media is over. Now there are many intermediaries with the capacity to intervene, interact, generate content and distribute it; intermediaries, in short, with a voice and a vote and with the possibility of reaching other voters.

The electoral communication ecosystem has become much more complex but, at the same time, more exciting than in the past and requires extensive and multifaceted knowledge of the environments to be addressed.

The lack of such fine analysis caused Hillary Clinton to fail in the past against Donald Trump, the British sectors in favor of remaining in the European Union against those in favor of Brexit in the 2016 referendum or, just a few months ago, the supporters of the failed Chilean Constitution rejected in a referendum.

We have more instruments than ever to listen to what society thinks and, however, other interests or prejudices prevent us from seeing beyond what is of interest. That is where the failure of an electoral campaign, or of a referendum, begins to be forged, since after all, in both cases we have to choose a ballot.

Captivating recruitment

In an environment of accentuated polarization and rejection of politicians and politics, it is more necessary than ever to reflect, to delve into what we could call the intelligent "hunt" of the voter, that is, the captivating and not merely visceral hunt of the citizenry.

This does not mean appealing only to reason because we would be forgetting an essential component of the human being such as feelings or the emotional part. The intelligent thing is to achieve a skillful combination of the two spheres that, in addition, in the long run, makes possible the fidelity of the vote: a good that every party or candidate wishes to achieve in order to consolidate its stability.

Connecting with the citizen or reconnecting with the lost citizen should be the common point of all electoral strategists if they do not want to see their conquests reduced to a one-day flower, to bread for today and hunger for tomorrow. The votes seduced by the arts of deception are those that are difficult to recover.