I was fascinated at the lessons from the cooked-up story about the pizza delivery man making waves as a part-time libertarian senate candidate.
Sean Haugh – the Libertarian Party’s Senate nominee in North Carolina – is sitting at about 8% support, almost all achieved from a low budget YouTube campaign.
In a style reminiscent of Ross Perot, he produces campaign video clips railing at the incoherence of mainstream politics while sipping craft beers at a home bar.
What is attractive about his style?
- It’s novel: there’s no cookie-cutter perfection to his delivery. He has a very unique form of verbal expression – distinctive and alluring.
- It’s new: he has new ideas, and attractive ways of comparing and contrasting that appear logical.
- It’s ordinary: his choice of beers, locations, clothes and expressions are conscious, but not self-conscious – and they connect. He is not claiming to be ‘everyman’, but his connections with ordinary life are closer than most politicians.
- it’s smart: he’s a clever and witty guy – coming up with ideas that voters can attach themselves to and use to justify their own dissatisfaction with the mainstream politicians.
- It counters the mainstream: his colourful approach, and his assertive pillorying of the main parties is possible because of the drab safeness of his opponents.
- It’s not too serious: there’s just enough levity in his material to signal that he doesn’t take himself too seriously – but just seriously enough to be worth a vote.
These are qualities found in many successful political challengers and underdogs, but don’t of themselves mean success.
The key is, as always, getting a very simple message out widely enough to run alongside the name and face, in an environment where voters are, or can be, motivated to change the incumbents.
I’m doubtful, for example, that a youtube campaign can break through to the masses without a massive amount of latent discontent among voters.
Sean will be interesting to watch.