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Will Trump lose the 2020 election?

This blog is mostly focused on marketing and how recent social science theories can help marketers become better at their jobs.  In fact, I wrote a book about that. And it turns out the politics is relevant for marketers, because there are lessons we can learn both from marketing political leaders and by looking at the politics of our brand users.  

But I have been paying more attention to politics itself lately, both because here in the USA it is all consuming and because I have a new book out about politics.

I am sure a lot of people (including people in marketing) have been pondering the question of whether Trump will lose the election this year.  I just saw a headline on Axios that claimed that Wall Street is now pricing in a Biden win.  But I think that’s a reflection of poll data, or perhaps what investors are thinking about whether to donate to the Trump campaign. But that can change. Trump might find a way to come back.

This touches on a topic I have been thinking about a lot. Because Trump supporters are very loyal, it will take a lot to dislodge them.  I kept wondering if/how that could happen.

But seeing the ads from The Lincoln Project, Republican Voters Against Trump and The Meidas Touch convinced me it could and probably would happen.

Let me recap the theory behind both my books to help explain my conclusion.  (Those of you who have read either of my books can skip this next section.) From reading Jonathan Haidt’s book The Righteous Mind, we learn that conservatives and liberals are far apart in their views and can’t talk to each other because of differences in their underlying values.

Further, Robb Willer and Matt Feinberg demonstrated that even when instructed to do write something appealing to the other political party, very few people can do so (under 10%).  But they also have documented in numerous studies that it is possible to appeal to the other side if done correctly.  Here’s a  link to the TED talk where Robb Willer describes his findings.

Willer and Feinberg have also done subsequent studies demonstrating how adopting the moral framework of the other group can be convincing.

Ok, now I am done explaining the theory.  Loyal readers, you can come back.

The reason why I think that the ads from the various Republican groups can dislodge Trump is precisely because they are from Republicans. Republicans know how to talk to other Republicans, so they have an ingoing advantage, they don’t have to work very hard. They share the same values as their audience. It feels genuine and real. Liberals don’t do it naturally and can fall into the trap of rehearsing their beliefs instead of speaking their audience.

Furthermore, most of all, Republicans can tell a convincing conversion story.  This is another way in which politics has become like religion, as I talk about in my books. They can say, "I was a follower too, just like you.  But now my eyes are open, and I can see things differently."

And that makes it it ok to switch votes. They are creating a new group to belong to, one that people don’t have to be ashamed of. They are saying, "you don’t have to leave the Republican party if you vote for Biden, we aren’t leaving. We are still Republicans. You can still belong too." And for conservatives, belonging is one of the most powerful forces of all.

If you are interested in my thoughts on politics, I usually post them on my youtube channel, where you can subscribe. My latest video is on mask wearing.

I also offer periodic free webinars about the applications of the theories. You can sign up at the website I have devoted to that book.

Or, of course, you could buy my latest book.  Or buy my book on marketing to see how this should influence what your brand could say about the issues of the day. 

I hope to “see” you soon at a webinar.



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Karen Tibbals @KarenTibbals

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