3 Ways Candidates Blow it When Communicating with Voters

The essence of a successful political campaign is communicating with the voters in a way that connects with them. But candidates often undermine their messaging and blow it with voters in one of the three following ways.

1. The Voters Don’t Care About What the Candidate is Talking About

Whatever you’re talking about in your campaign, it must be something that matters to the voters.

Specifically, the problems you’re running to solve must be important to the folks — not just you.

Many times candidates will campaign passionately on an issue that is near and dear to their hearts, then lose on Election Day.

What happened?

They didn’t connect with the voters because the issue they highlighted didn’t matter to the voters.

That doesn’t mean the issue isn’t an important one that needs immediate attention.

It means it doesn’t have the intensity needed to win an election.

America’s out of control National Debt is a major issue that comes to mind.

The Debt might honestly be the most pressing issue facing our country, but no one has ever won an election campaigning on taming the debt.

If the National Debt worked as an issue, Mitt Romney would have won in 2012 and H. Ross Perot in 1992.

You should only campaign on the issues that matter to the largest group of voters in your district.

If the problem is rising crime, don’t make improving tree trimming services your top priority.

If people are concerned about improving student test scores, your focus shouldn’t be building a new gymnasium.

Find out what the issues are that at least 40% of the voters are highly concerned about — hopefully by doing a poll — and focus all of your campaign’s messaging there.

If you pick an issue to stake your campaign on that doesn’t resonate with the voters, Election Night probably won’t go too good for you.

2. The Voters Don’t Understand What the Candidate is Talking About

Even if you know the issues that are foremost on the voters minds, you need to know how to talk about those issues.

Never ever ever talk over the heads of the voters.

That’ll fast track you for defeat on Election Night.

Don’t try to impress anyone with large words, your impressive vocabulary, or inside-government speak.

You won’t be impressing anyone. You’ll be glazing the voters eyes over.

Incumbents usually fall into this trap because they’ve been on the inside for too long.

I’ve seen it limit effective elected officials ability to communicate with the voters when running for re-election.

They can’t connect with the voters to share their accomplishments and they wind up getting beat by a challenger who can.

Now please don’t misconstrue what I’m saying here.

I’m not suggesting you dumb down your language when talking to the voters. Not at all.

Rather, you should always be communicating in plain language that’s easy for people to understand.

This is true in your speeches, when talking to one-on-one, in your mailers — and in all your messaging.

Voters cast ballots for candidates who are clear and understandable.

They skip over the names on the ballot of the ones who confuse or put them to sleep.

3. The Voters Don’t Believe the Candidate

Losing credibility with the voters is one of the worst things that can happen to a candidate.

This can happen for a variety or reasons.

  • You get caught in a whopper of a lie
  • You make an outrageous claim no one believes
  • An opponent effectively tears down your character or campaign positions.

A candidate who loses their credibility is extremely likely to lose their election.

This could possibly destroy their entire political future as well.

You must zealously guard your credibility at all times.

The best way to do this is no matter what always tell the truth.

That may seem old fashioned especially in today’s political environment, but it’s still the platinum standard that wins elections.

If you make a misstatement or present to the public a factual inaccuracy, correct it as soon as possible.

Don’t go over the top with your campaign promises or with any accusations about your opponents.

The voters know when a candidate is promising something they cannot deliver. It offends them.

At the same time, if you’re going to attack your opponent, make sure your claims are 100% accurate.

And your claims can’t seem so fantastical that no one believes them — even if they are 100% true.

The voters will think you’re grasping at straws and consider you to be just another politician who’s willing to say anything to get elected.

Likewise, your opponent may be attacking you on your past or your record.

If these attacks seem credible, even if they are not totally factual, they will be effective.

Should such attacks happen, you must defend yourself.

You need to set the record straight and fire back at your opponent without delay.

An unanswered false but credible sounding accusation will be deemed true if you fail to effectively counter it.

However, when it comes to defending yourself against attacks, the old adage if 100% true.

The best defense is always a good offense.

Always define yourself before an opponent can.

That way when the attacks come, the voters will dismiss them.

Then their attacks will boomerang and effect their credibility, while yours remains intact.

Candidate Take-Aways

How you choose to communicate with the voters will have a major impact on how the Election goes.

Campaign on the issues that the most voters care the most about.

Ignore the others during the campaign, even if they are important to you.

Always talk to the voters in a regular manner with commons words they will understand.

Never lie about yourself or you opponent

Don’t wildly exaggerate current circumstances or potential outcomes.

Always protect your credibility and defend yourself against effective attacks.

If you do these things, you’re likely to connect with the voters and have a good chance of winning your election.