8 Ways to Motivate the Apathetic Voter
We sure saw a lot of campaign ads last month. Across the country, billions were spent on the 2010 mid-terms. Billions with a capital B.
All of that cash to motivate voters to go to the polls. Motivation, not information, as surely no one would base voting decisions on generally misleading ads, right? Who would do that?
No, the recent mid-term elections help illuminate a political truism; the candidate who can best get their constituency to the polls wins. That means motivating people who otherwise probably wouldn’t vote. Somewhere around half of the eligible voters are in this group on a typical election day.
So who are these people who don’t vote?
Likely some of them don’t care; some are too busy or can’t be bothered; some (quite rightly) think their single vote won’t make a difference; some may be all of the above.
Take out the people who are unable to vote due to disabilities or conflicting responsibilities and that mostly leaves those who don’t care enough to vote.
This is the group of apathetic non-voters, the true focus of all of those billions in campaign dollars spent, the voters sought by the well funded politician. Elections are swung and won when enough apathetic voters get up off the couch and go to the polls.
So what’s a candidate to do? How does one motivate these people to vote?
In the interest of cutting wasteful spending of campaign billions here’s a quick list to help future candidates to appeal to apathetic voters, based on some recent techniques that seem to be effective.
1 Raise emotions like hope, rage, disgust, self-righteousness, and fear. Talk about how evil and cynical the opposition is. Catastrophize! The future of the free world is at stake! Get that adrenaline pumping! It gives voters the strength for this task that they find so difficult. But don’t ask apathetic voters to just care on their own. They wouldn’t be apathetic if they actually cared. That would be going against their nature.
2 Entertain the apathetic voter with drama! Sinister images and shadowy bad guys work well. Use simple symbols like guns, grizzly bears, demon sheep, lumberjacks, brown bag lunches or dream homes and families with 2.5 children. Be sure to always represent yourself with positive images. Sometimes candidates get this mixed up and make themselves look like a shadowy Darth Vader type or a witch. Don’t do that. Apathetic voters watch television and know which cultural icons are supposed to be vote worthy. Done right you can make voting feel like an interactive reality show.
3 Pretend that you are revealing important information. Make these voters feel like they know what they are talking about even though you really haven’t told them anything truthful and anyone who isn’t apathetic knows it.
4 Mock media outlets for attempting to give voters any information or insight that might contradict your own story. Really, just shove them out of the picture if you don’t have complete control of them. See them as the competition that they are. Kneecap them if you have to. One recent candidate had his security people handcuff a reporter for asking questions. That’s the spirit!
5 Don’t ask apathetic voters to think. Thinking means work: research and knowledge that takes work to acquire. That’s too hard. They want their opinions to be spoon fed to them in little sweet or salty bites, like candy or chips, preferably in an entertaining way that doesn’t require them to turn off the TV or radio. Thinking is bad.
6 Don’t bore or over whelm apathetic voters with details. That requires thinking (bad, see above!). Besides, a voter who feels overwhelmed is a voter who feels incompetent to make a decision. A conscience might prevent such a voter from voting, definitely not the result you want.
7 Mock any opposing candidate who tries to provide details or an actual plan to voters. What do they think this is, a job interview for an executive position or something? Don’t they know that the world is run by C students and college dropouts? Average people shouldn’t know how to write position papers very well and above average people are threatening. Make sure that apathetic voters know that you hold details in utter contempt.
8 Never let the apathetic voter think the candidate is smarter than the voter. That might cause the voter to think the candidate is high fallutin’ and elitist and smug. That does not conjure a vote-worthy cultural icon. In TV Land this is someone who is going to get taught a lesson about street smarts and common sense, important things that are apparently surgically removed to make room for education and actual experience. Apathetic voters believe that common sense and book smarts can not coexist in the same person. They nobly choose beer smarts for themselves and want leaders who have also made this sacrifice.
Candidates, don’t spend a penny unless that money uses these ideas. Any ad that doesn’t flatter, cajole, condescend to, or enrage an unmotivated voter is just wasted cash and we want politicians who can spend billions in the least wasteful way.
Or something like that.