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Whatcha Gonna Do With That Duck?

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« Bad performance, good performance and the other two kinds | Main | The whiner's room »

Why vote? The marketing dynamics of apathy

Here's what political marketers learn from people who don't vote:

Nothing.

If you don't vote because you're disappointed with your choices, disgusted by tactics like lying and spin, or merely turned off by the process, you've opted out of the marketplace.

The goal of political marketers isn't to get you to vote. Their goal is to get more votes than the other guy. So they obsess about pleasing those that vote. Everyone else is invisible.

Steakhouses do nothing to please vegetarians who don't visit them, and politicians and their handlers don't care at all about non-voters.

The magic of voting is that by opting in to the system, you magically begin to count. A lot.

If you don't like negative ads, for example, then vote for the candidate who ran even 1% fewer negative ads. Magically, within a cycle or two, the number of negative ads begins to go down.

One reason that people don't vote (a real, usually unspoken reason) is that they don't want to feel responsible for the person who wins. The other reason is that they don't want to live with the disappointment of voting for someone who loses. Both of these reasons ignore the marketing reality: not voting doesn't make marketing or politics go away. It merely changes the person the marketers are trying to please.

Vote tomorrow. Bring a friend. If enough smart people start voting again, things will improve, because billions of dollars in political marketing will suddenly be trying to please you.

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