Kelly Scott Madison

How Does Political Marketing Influence Voters?

02/12/2016

 

KSM’s latest study looks at how voters feel about political advertising, and the influence it has on their behaviors 

Over the past two decades, political polarization in the United States has grown considerably. In fact, Pew Research claims that Americans are now more polarized than they’ve been since the Truman administration. Why the growth in division, especially in more recent years? Some attribute the divide to the apparent political parochialism that many“consistently liberal” or “consistently conservative” voters consign themselves to in today’s technologically-siloed society. With an ever-expanding amount of information sources to consume, many can stick to reading only the media that tends to align with their views. So if political polarization has been exacerbated over the past 60 years, how do marketers tap into those amplified passions in the most effective way possible? To answer that question, KSM and ORC International once again teamed up to conduct a consumer survey, this time to see how the general public feels about political marketing. More than 1,000 U.S. adults, 18 years or older were asked questions ranging from their sentiments toward various types of political ads and media formats, to their thoughts on exposure timing and new targeting tactics.

When does the public start researching candidates?

To craft any marketing effort, one of the most logical places to begin the brainstorming process is with campaign timing. Understanding the flight dates helps shape key considerations regarding possible messaging and event alignment. In politics, the act of researching candidates and key issues is tied closely to the proximity of election days. However, when analyzing this behavior across party affiliations and age groups, some interesting differences arise.

Millennials will continue to be heavily prized bypolitical candidates for their growing importance in upcoming elections, but the group is often criticized by some strategists as being disengaged with traditional political and media formats. Whether they deserve this backlash will be analyzed later in this report, but in regard to the timing of when certain groups begin researching political candidates, millennials surprisingly differ from some larger trends seen across other age groups.

When asked how early respondents begin researching presidential candidates, KSM’s political marketing survey uncovered that millennials are actually more likely than baby boomers to vet candidates very early on in the campaigning process. The difference is a statistically significant 38 percent of millennials who say they begin researchin gpresidential candidates one year or more prior to an election, compared to 27 percent of baby boomers who do the same. Generation X nearly splits the difference at 31 percent. In other words, millennials are 1.4 times more likely than baby boomers to research candidates early on. In contrast, 35 percent of baby boomers (this group’s most popular answer) and 31 percent of Gen Xers research just three to 11 months prior.

What are the forces driving millennials to start analyzing the field early on, and baby boomers to hold off until the primaries really start moving into high gear? The casual observer could chalk this difference up to the relative inexperience of younger voters who may not realize that names change often during the typically yearlong process leading up to primaries and prior to a party naming their nominees.But it also shows that when compared to other generations, millennials are engaged early on in the rallying process and could mean they have more of a sense of involvement in the campaigning process from start to finish. This might especially ring true when looking at the overall engagement millennials have with politics on social media. It’s no secret that this age group is more open to interact with civic and political content on social networks. In fact, a Pew research study stated that 48 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds make the choice to further investigate political or social topics as a direct result of what they read on social networks, and 57 percent claim they “engage in political activity on social media and nowhere else.” Pair the relative ease and extremely low cost of creating and supporting social pages with the perception from millennials that social is a safe place to express oneself, and it makes logical sense to infer that...


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