Crist’s List Missed

Crist’s List Missed

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This ad seeks to associate Crist with a list of five public policy positions that his research has told him work to his advantage: saving the jobs of 20,000 teachers, lowering property taxes, raising the minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, and restoring funding for schools. Since some people care about some of those issues more than others, the idea is to throw them all into the ad so everybody can find something they like.

Each of Crist’s positions is highlighted by words on screen and a reinforcing visual.

But lists are a poor idea.

Voters are more motivated by some issues than others. When Crist’s positions are combined, the resulting motivation is averaged, not added. In other words, a combination of positions will have less power to sway a voter than a concentration on the voter’s most motivating position. That means that single position ads targeted to voters concerned about that position will be more powerful than ads that contain a list of positions targeted at a general audience. A candidate is better off spending the extra production dollars to make multiple specific position ads and targeting those ads at the specific relevant audiences. If women are most strongly motivated by equal pay for equal work, Crist’s team should create an ad that dramatizes Crist’s stand on that issue and put the ad where women will see it.

If the candidate must target the general audience, pick the single position that is most motivating to that general audience. Anything else will lesson impact.

Secondly, listing multiple public policy positions makes for a lousy ad because it ends up boring viewers with a slightly disjointed slide show rather than involving viewers in an experience that cements the association between the candidate and a particular position. The Crist team could do a great ad about equal pay for equal work but including that position in a list seems like words mouthed to get elected.

Charlie Crist is a good-looking guy who doesn’t emote much, making him something of a Stepford candidate. A boring list of positions won’t do much to bring Crist to life.

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