Early Positive Campaigning protects against attacks even shortly before election day
It does matter when and which information we receive as voters prior to elections. The earlier we get positive information about the person of a candidate, the more sustainably this important first impression establishes our opinion and influences our evaluation of political combattants. The impact of political attacks – even of those which are launched shortly before election day – falls flat to a high extent. This is why early Positive Campaigning is so overwhelmingly strong and protective.
Negative Campaigning on the contrary works the best short-term: because on one hand negative information gets worn out over the entire time span of an campaign and on the other hand because it stays for temporarily more accurate in the memory.
And: we as the electorate remember personal information – positive and negative one alike – much better than political goals and strategies or even more detailled political agendas.
This is the outcome of a recently conducted experiment of the University of San Diego, in which the author points out that political content will still continue to have its importance for voting decisions. But they are far less staying on us than person- related news.
How quickly we selectively forget: Experimental Tests of Information Order on Memory and Candidate Evaluation. Goggin, Political Psychology, vol. 40, nr. 1, February 2019, S 125 – 145.
From the practice:
What we learn upfront and in the end, we remember best. That´s why start and closing of any meeting and any presentation is key. Exciting that this principle is also valid for campaigns in total and not only stands for moments like TV-statements or speeches of candidates.
And interesting, too, that Negative Campaigning apparently unfolds ist hightest impact not before the very final days before election. This makes hope that this kind of knowledge furtheron decreases campaigns which are from top to toe full of attacks onto the political opponent.
Still, due to the experiment of San Diego, we as the electorate have to be aware of the fact that – in case a candidate fails to have been communicated within a personal Positive Campaign – each of us is keen to negative information shortly before the voting. Only a proper check of origin and sort of the accusations seems to be an adequate recipe for securing a qualified poll.
For my collaborration with politicians this means a) together with the client to personalize content = to integrate personal aspects like experiences, ideas or values into the scheduled appearances of the campaign, b) to train even more than before these appearances prior to the kick off of the campaign and c) to reflect and discuss particularly for the second half and the end of the campaign the active and reactive handling of political attacks.