Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Strategic Campaigning

In reading “Can You Say What Your Strategy Is?” by David Collis and Michael Rukstad, I couldn’t help but think of the upcoming presidential election. In light of yesterday’s primary elections, the GOP primary race has been especially intriguing and entertaining. Each of the potential republican candidates has had a particular strategy in going through the primary election. However, I do not think that most candidate supporters (GOP and otherwise) have even the slightest idea about their candidates strategy. Obviously, this is not knowledge needed to vote, but it would be nice if voters had a better understanding of their candidates.

One GOP candidate comes to mind when I think of political campaign strategy. Ron Paul has made it very clear that his strategy is to win over delegates, and that he is not interested in a “popularity contest.” His strategy seems to differ most from the other candidates, and he has made a strong effort to make this clear (when the media has given him the chance). In this case, it is more likely that his supporters understand his strategy in winning the GOP nomination.

Although other candidates, and even the President’s, strategies may not be as evident as Ron Paul’s, it is clear that they are operating with one. One of the figures in this particular reading highlights the “Hierarchy of Company Statements.” This is easily applied to political campaigning as well as corporations. Each candidate has their objective, scope, and advantage. For example, Obama wants to regain the huge interest of the under 30 crowd, some of which he has lost over the past few years. In order to do this, he has strategically focused on talks at college campuses where he has vowed to keep student loan interest rates low. He has also appealed to the younger generation by talking about how he only recently paid of his student debt, and he understands the frustration with the huge amount of student loan debt. Although this is only part of his entire campaign strategy, it is a part that he has made very visible to supporters.

Overall, all politicians campaign with some sort of outlined strategy. Although their end goal of winning the vote is the same, each candidate has their own strategy in getting there. Some candidates have a more obvious strategy to their supporters and the public than others. Although there is not necessarily a correlation between the success of the candidate and the public’s understanding of their strategy as there is with organizations, it is still an interesting concept to examine. I am curious, though, if sticking to one campaign strategy from the beginning of the nomination through the entire election is beneficial. What is important to the public now may not be so important come the election, so it seems like some diversions may need to occur. Also, is it sensible to expect voters to understand a candidate’s strategy when a large amount of voters don’t even fully understand the values on which their candidate is campaigning?

Source: Collins, D. J. & Rukstad, M. G. (2008, April). Can you say what your strategy is? Harvard Business Review.

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