By Samuel Polley and Thomas Zeller
On the morning of Wednesday 9th November (CET), the 2016 US Presidential Election came to a abrupt end. Trump prevailed over Clinton in a tight and embattled race to the White House.
Campaign strategy is one of the key factors for the success of Donald Trump.
Both campaigns were organised and implemented on a highly professional level, but here are three issues Hillary Clinton’s campaign should have dealt with differently.
The email scandal nine days before the election
Problem: lack of flexibility (strategic campaigning goal #5).
How to solve the problem: First of all, an early-warning system should have anticipated the reoccurrence of this topic, which is a precondition to deal with it flexibly. The key to being flexible in a campaign is rolling planning, while permanently analysing the current situation. A contingency plan has to be activated at the right time. With this strategy, the threat of this scandal could at least have been neutralised.
Clinton failed to identify with her competitors target market
Problem: lack of orientation towards the effectiveness and harmonisation of goals and means (strategic campaigning goal #7)
How to solve the problem: Trump carefully chose his target group and was not concerned with others. His Target group were willing to listen to big pledges with little detail and then turn up to the polls in huge numbers. The Clinton target group was far harder to please, and although the pollsters put Clinton as clear favourite, she failed to move them in a way that would grab their vote.
Trump’s name appeared in 1.8x the number of headlines that Clinton’s did, according to this analysis.
Problem: Trump controlled the agenda (strategic campaigning goal #2)
How to solve the problem: A general rule in setting the agenda is ‚move or get moved‘. During a campaign, one should take the initiative, and then keep it until the end. Always being one step ahead of the other is vital to achieve this. A crucial move in controlling the agenda is a rapid response, which means forcing the opponent to react according to your own rhythm and therefore making proactive responses impossible. Trump clearly implemented this behaviour better than Clinton.
To conclude, the tight outcome of the election proves that only small mistakes in the campaign strategy can lead to a significant loss among the target group if not handled appropriate. Follow our blog to stay updated on the latest campaigning trends!