Saturday, April 14, 2007

Universal Language: Politics


What is the universal language? Math, love, English...actually, politics. Several days ago, the French-American Foundation, self-described as "the principal non-government link between France and the United States," brought both American Democrat and Republican political consultants on a tour of the French election campaign.

Ironically, a main interest of the consultants was not what was phsically going on in France itself, but the internet sites that are taking center stage in gathering support, organizing campaigns, and getting out the vote.

What really blew them away, though, was Sarkozys Web site. "This is the most elegant presentation of a Web television strategy I've seen in politics. It's one click ahead of where we are," said Murphy (a Republican who has worked for Arnold Schwarzenegger). "And yes, I will steal it." A Democrat chimed in: "Don't be surprised if you see a lot of sites that look like that in the American campaigns next year."

Interestingly, while it was Segolene Royal who spearheaded the use of the internet in her primary campaign, US consultants were less than impressed.

Royal's Web strategy was "like a card trick," says Murphy. Her Web strategy was fine to make the point she was attentive to the voters, he suggests, but it seems to have become a kind of cult inside the campaign. A Democratic consultant on the tour says she has worked for candidates who "started out as listeners." The challenge is making the transition to a program that people will understand. Royal might want to make a hundred points, but those can stay on the Web. What she needs to do now...is say "these are the three things I've learned," or this is the big thing I've learned, "and repeat it 10,000 times."


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