With the Victorian State Election only days away, there is much discussion occurring in and out of the office about “who is going to win?”

Ultimately the conversations try and unpack how people will vote and why. Understanding what the triggers are to influence people’s decision-making process is at the heart of what I do.

From what we are hearing, there are quite a number of people who are still disengaged from the democratic process that is Election Day 2014.

As someone quite involved in campaigning and strategising in the lead up to this election, I struggle to understand how people can’t be completely obsessed with every twist and turn. But then again, I have a relationship with people in the political process.

However, I can imagine that there are people who focus on other things in their daily lives. So, how do political parties engage the broader community in the final days and influence their voting decision?

In any relationship (and trust me, voting for a political party is a relationship), there are three key elements to consider: communication, the value proposition and how we treat each other.

Each political party works very hard to communicate their message: why someone should vote for them (value proposition through policies, promises) and why they shouldn’t vote for the others (they aren’t as good, they don’t understand you — negative value proposition).

They also regularly argue the value proposition. Each party will interpret what is important to the community and weight their polices and commitments accordingly. For example, are roads more important than public transport? Is cutting payroll tax more important than incentives to hire long term unemployed? The funding mix and priority setting of governments and the opposition is always an interpretation of what they think is going to drive sustainable economic growth and convince the public to vote for them.

However, what each party is challenged by is this idea of ‘how should we treat each other?’

How have the political leaders engaged with their constituents? Have they listened to voters and has their consultation been genuine? Do the voting public feel they have been treated with respect, transparency and honesty?

Developing these on-the-ground relationships through genuine engagement is the challenge. If this ‘governance’ around the relationship is questioned, it is very difficult for people to have trust in their elected representatives.

So what are people really thinking?

While traditionally there are 70-80% of voters who don’t change their voting patterns, the other 20-30% will be thinking:

  • Have they clearly communicated with me in the way I want?
  • Have they demonstrated the value proposition? What’s in it for me?
  • Do I have a relationship with my local member and have I been treated with respect and honesty by the party? Whom do I trust?

While communication and the value proposition are key components of an election campaign, it is the relationship building with the local community that may ultimately deliver the winning vote. What is clear is that if you can manage and monitor all three elements, it will help build a strategic approach to relationship building and influence, which is critical on Election Day. This is the advice I would give any politician or political party as it is core to our philosophy and it has proven to deliver outcomes for organisations.

Jennifer Cromarty

Author Jennifer Cromarty

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