Sarah Palin as Marketing Strategy

A reader of yesterday’s post about Sarah Palin criticized the choice as “a slimy, deliberate attempt to pander to Hillary supporters.” It’s a thought that deserves its own discussion — so here goes.

I’m inclined to set aside “slimy” — this is politics, and unless money changed hands or sexual favors were granted, this doesn’t show up on the slime-o-meter. “Deliberate” isn’t a bad thing: “inadvertent” would be a much bigger problem. So let’s focus on “pander to Hillary supporters.”

A presidential campaign is one big pander festival (pandermonium?) — an extended sales call on millions of prospects. So does this choice move McCain closer to a sale or farther away?

A good salesperson needs to skip over the prospects who would never buy, and focus on the ones who might. Hardcore Obama supporters won’t vote for McCain no matter who he chooses, so they can be safely ignored.

In this election, there are two big group of folks who can still be persuaded:

1. Many Hillary supporters are available for pandering, and now have some serious thinking to do. Palin may oppose everything Hillary stands for, but she’s a working mother; for those who have long dreamed of a female president, she represents perhaps the quickest path to the goal. If Obama wins, it may be eight years before a Democratic woman next has a legitimate shot at the office. By contrast, the McCain will be 72 on Inauguration Day.

2. Hardcore right-wingers who don’t like McCain, and might have stayed home in November. Palin’s an anti-abortion, NRA member who supports oil drilling. Yesterday, Portland conservative talk show host Lars Larson announced that because of Palin’s selection, he’s climbing aboard the McCain bandwagon. He’s not alone.

There’s also some evidence that the Democrats haven’t figured out how to deal with Palin yet — after some Obama aides blasted the selection, Obama himself made a point of praising her. So the choice may have the added benefit of tying the opposition up for a little while.

So does Palin’s selection move McCain closer to a sale? In other words, will this particular pandering attempt accomplish its goal?

On the basis of early evidence, I’m going to say yes. It hasn’t scared away anyone who was already in the McCain camp, and it’s given two big groups of undecideds a new reason to consider him.

Speaking strictly as a fellow professional in the persuasion industry, I applaud.

An Interesting Side Note

Yesterday, my original post about Sarah Palin brought a quick spike of traffic, which pleased me until a reader pointed out that I’d misspelled her name. When I fixed the error, my traffic started to drop. A look at my stats revealed that the most popular search terms for those who found this blog were…

Sarah Pailin and Sara Pailin

So for those of you who found me with those spellings — or Sarah Pallin or Sara Pallin — welcome.


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6 thoughts on “Sarah Palin as Marketing Strategy

  1. I love the phrase “pandermonium”. I have to remember to use that. Unfortunately, our entire political system is now an industry of ‘pandermonium” with every bill that is passed, not just the election cycles.

  2. I am surprised that polls say that 27% Hillary supporters would vote for McCain anyway. Are they voting for gender issues or a political issues? If someone is willing to throw their votes around that easy, why are they voting? This is why I am not a big fan for “Get the Vote Out” campaigns. You are pushing or persuading an uninterested person to take the time to make an informed decision and that isn’t going to happen. They will go with the slickest ad or what their friends or family does.

  3. I took a look at the Hillary Clinton forums last night, and all of it was stuff like “BAIL ON OBAMA, PALIN IS A WOMAN”. Any issues were forgotten, just because Palin is a woman. This election is becoming more and more of a gimmick.

    Also interesting is that there’s some rising discussion that Sara’s kid with Downs syndrome might not be hers after all, but it might belong to her daughter instead.

  4. Pallin’s extreme pro-life position is being presented as the wonderful story of the mother-to-be (Pallin) who refused to abort her fetus when told of its downs syndrome defect. Firstly, is testing for downs syndrome routine? Especially when testing involves the prompting of amniocentesis which carries a risk of inducing miscarriage (often of a healthy fetus)? Secondly, this was the same pregnancy she refused to birth when her water broke while conferencing in one city, choosing to complete the conference and fly all the way to Alaska. I thought birthing involves non-voluntary contraptions naturally designed to push the baby out. This would mean, if I am not mistaken, that the physical act of the holding up the birthing could have caused serious risks of defects in the new baby. There is risk (connected to a child’s development) when denied oxygen at birth.

    I welcome anyone to correct me. Pallin’s gun-tooting, creationist, extreme pro-life positions are dangerous –regardless of whether or not she is “the most popular US governor” –we forget this was in a state of 9000 or so people.

  5. To keep on Phil’s pandering comments, when an election cycles turns into identity politics verses core values (liberalism vs. conservatism or capitalism vs socialism ), the candidates make campaign choices that will garnish the most votes by targeting groups that are associated with that identity.

    As a VP choice strategy goes, John McCain wins this battle. Biden is chosen to combat Obama’s vapid record and compete with McCain’s record, while Palin is chosen to secure the conservative base (something McCain did not have) and (a bonus now) add the women voters disenfranchised by Obama’s poor handling of Hillary (so much for the unity candidate).

    John McCain, the Maverick, has the only women on the ticket (pretty Maverick like). Obama, the candidate of change, has a man on the ticket that has served longer in Washington DC then the ‘old wrinkled white haired dude” McCain. (What change?)

    So as Phil puts it, “will this particular pandering attempt accomplish its goal?” – I think so.

  6. The more I watch the election and see each side talk with blinders on, I find that the pandering works. Style over substance.

    Many on both sides are talking about the historic nature but not really talking about issues nor are there many questions about issues .

    I rarely see people move from the east side of the river to the west side of Portland. Pepsi fans don’t drink coke.

    As with advertising you have to get the attention of the people somewhat interested in your product. Obama and Palin do that for each side.