Activism: Swing Voters, Advocates, Detractors

And they’re off. The 2012 US Presidential Election kicks off today with the Iowa Caucuses. Just as the Christmas shopping season waits until the last turkey sandwich has been devoured, the US Presidential elections hold off for the last dose of New Year’s hangover cure. News pundits will now be surveying, charting and dissecting the voter segments for the next 11 months nearly to the day.

For the candidates, it’s a mammoth marketing exercise to ‘get their message across’ and attract custom in the currency of a ballot. A piece by Robyn Griggs Lawrence cited Kevin Salwen, founding editor of Worthwhile magazine, which put forward that marketing political causes are an example of the 70-20-10 Rule…

  • 10 percent are just never going to buy into our message – Bigots/Detractors
  • 20 percent are already on board – Advocates
  • 70 percent are out there just waiting to be touched and inspired – Swing

Lawrence and Salwen are spot on here. There are fanatic fans and fundamentalist foes with every cause. But the heart of political power lies in the middle. Those ‘just waiting to be touched and inspired.’

This characterisation of the ‘Swing Vote’ also aligns nicely with one of Hugh MacLeod’s central tenets made years ago about the importance of authentic heart and spirit in marketing: “The market for something to believe in is infinite.” Whether you’re selling policies or polymers, finding a way to ‘touch and inspire’ is the key to the majority of the market.

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