Election Prediction

There’s a snap election on the way, and the good folk of Warsaw are at it again. This time they’re predicting a landslide for Tory Theresa and a future on jobseekers allowance for Jeremy – as for that tall chap from the LibDems (didn’t he used to be Stephen Merchant?) and the wee lady from the Krankies up north; the best they can hope for is being used as fish and chip wrappers on June 9th.

Anyway, it’s fair to say the Poles have taken their eyes off the ball during recent elections, referendums and Eurovision Song Contests, so it falls on me to make the one and only cast-iron, 100% guaranteed, bet on this and win win win, prediction of #GE17… our election will look like a crap village hall panto in comparison to the box office smash that was Trump v Clinton.

Cast your mind back just a few months and the American voting public was revelling in private jets; rallies with riots; TV debates that attracted bigger audiences than the Super Bowl; The Circus on ShowTime; FBI investigations; tax scandals; Russian scandals; Trump’s tweets; more FBI investigations; the birth of fake news; and an election night victory party for Hilary Clinton that fell flatter than any party ever has or ever will (perhaps with the exception of the post-show nibbles organised by Ford’s Theatre for Abe Lincoln back in 1865)

Meanwhile, all we’ve got to look forward to are battle buses; empty chair TV debates; Nicky Campbell; Jon Snow’s socks; the Swingometer; and the kind of social media use that couldn’t be executed any more badly if you asked my dad to plan it out next time he’s online at the local library.

Admittedly, I’m not entirely sure we could cope with all the razzmatazz of an American style election on our shores, but surely those with a communicative role at Westminster should be looking to the land of the free for a little bit of inspiration?

Take the TV debate debacle. Theresa May refuses to come to the party, preferring instead to “get out and about and meet voters”. Yet in 2015, 13.4million voters watched the two televised leaders’ debates, which by my maths equates to her having to shake a hell of a lot of hands between now and June 8th if she’s going to get anywhere near that kind of traction. And okay, not all of the leaders in 2015 came across particularly well, but you’d certainly expect our current PM to be media and PR savvy enough to be able to more than hold her own in what is, at the end of the day, a well stage-managed, one-off political soap opera. And even if she isn’t perceived to have won the debate, does it really matter? Trump bombed three times in the US, but clearly did enough to communicate the points he wanted to make to those who ended up voting for him in their millions.

And then there’s Twitter. Whatever you think of the man or his Tweets, Trump utilised social media in a way no politician ever had before, and it’s not stretching the truth to say that without it he wouldn’t now be waking up in the White House every morning. @realDonaldTrump is followed by 28.1million. @POTUS by 16.7million. And all he needs to do to communicate directly with these people? Pick up his smart phone.

In contrast, @theresa_may has just 287k followers, and @jeremycorbyn 825k. And let’s face it – their Twitter feeds are both deathly dull. Whereas Trump seemingly drunk tweets the first thing that comes to mind, and usually does it in BLOCK CAPITALS just to get across its IMPORTANCE or the fact he’s VERY VERY ANGRY about something, Tezza and Jezza seem unwilling to embrace a means of communication that could very well have a significant impact on the outcome of the election.

Yes, party policies and manifesto promises still play a big part in how people vote, but now more than ever it’s the people making these pledges who can make or break an election result. You only need to look back at the EU Referendum to see just how much emotion can sway a vote, and therefore it’s imperative that every party leader goes on the PR offensive. They need to be seen by the masses. They need to be heard by the masses. And, most importantly, they need to strike a chord with them – something you really can’t do now without participating fully in both the media and social media games.

Written by Daniel Kennedy, 21/04/2017