Ivo Mertens
4 min read

Can Mindspeller help presidential candidates win hearts and minds?

One of the most interesting aspects of the US presidential elections is the "arms race " in the deployment of new technology to win the hearts and minds of the American voters. The Trump team has got a pretty formidable war machine at its disposal in this respect.

Brad Parscale, now campaign manager for the Trump re-election, got yelled at by Donald Trump during the 2016 race for spending tens of millions of dollars on digital ads. Back then, he replied to the soon-to-be POTUS: "If you're going to be the next president, you're going to win it on Facebook." Trump strongly believed in the power of television ads, but realized later on that Parscale had been right all along.

Striking the right chord

Today, the Democratic party and the campaign teams of several candidates are bringing in their own specialists and tools to form a battery of digital fire-power. It goes without saying that it is extremely important to target different groups of voters with personalised messages. And even without turning to invasive techniques "Cambridge Analytics style", it is possible and useful to come up with sharply targeted communication strategies. However, you can shoot a tailored message towards your target audience and still miss because your ammunition isn't effective enough. People sending a message often phrase it in their own words, without checking if it strikes the same chord with the receiver. At Mindspeller, we believe that if one goes out of his way to deliver a tailored message to every niche of voters, he or she should definitely make sure the ones who read and hear it make the associations and links that were intended.

Finding a common denominator with Explorer

Let us explain this with an example. Most intended associations in politics are so over-used and abused that they have become meaningless and hollow. Take the term "honest" for example - this association is so obvious that highlighting it is like kicking in an open door. Except for some candidates who lie so persistently that it becomes a communication style of its own.

Mindspeller-Explorer-Elections

For the purpose of this example we have used our Explorer tool to find a common denominator for a number of Intended Associations: we looked at and analysed the terms Honest, but also Presidential, and a number of important themes like Growth, Economy, Safety and Justice. Our tool suggested two potential concepts that bring across the essence of the above words, namely "Government" and "Love". It seems that all important themes and attributes of a good President boil down to a deep love for the government’s work and mission.

Navigating through the minds of people using Pathfinder

Another one of our apps - Pathfinder - identifies the best route between the concept of President and the image of Government, much like a navigation tool! The stepping stones that come out of the analysis are quite straightforward for the most part: the terms "Leader" and "America" show up but here again we see the concept of “Love" - this seems to be a word that politicians should use far more often!

Mindspeller-Pathfinder-Elections

Should Joe Biden claim Obama?

Another word that people seem to associate with the concepts of President and Government is the term “Obama", more so than any other president. This could be very interesting for Joe Biden, who has a natural link to the former leader of the United States.

Speaking of which, we also ran one of Joe Biden’s recent tweets through our Copy Optimizer tool. In his tweet Biden was calling on the public to go vote today. We tried to optimise his message for the Intended Association "Government" (we could have used any association, but we continue with the same one for the sake of consistency).

copy-optimiser-us-elections

Although his tweet scored pretty well in our analysis, we managed to improve it simply by replacing the word "today" by "on Tuesday" to make his call to action more specific. The term “today” has a flavour of short termism, which does not match well with the long-term view associated to the concept of a good government, while the specificity of the exact day (Tuesday) does strengthen this association.

We would like to add that all our analyses are based on data acquired from informed and willing survey participants. Mindspeller will continue to follow the US Presidential elections in the next weeks and months. We welcome all your thoughts and questions!

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