Friday, March 25, 2011

Keeping Fears in Cheque

The Labor line that has been getting the most running of late is "Don't give Barry a blank cheque".

It's a multi-faceted slogan, and I think it is a very effective one. Like all the best slogans, it seems like it will be effective with every category of voters who Labor are still courting.

Best of all, it hits those voters right where they need to be hit.

I'm not going to try and predict the effect on dead-certain Labor or Liberal voters, because they are not going to change their vote at this stage.

First of all, disaffected Labor voters - people who have always voted Labor but now think "It's Time". To these voters, the slogan says "The Coalition are going to win - if they win both houses, they will destroy the state." For someone who is perhaps not comfortable with voting Coalition in the first place, this is a powerful fear, and one likely to bring some people back across.

The true swinging voter, who has no affiliations? Judging by the polls, just about every single one of these voters is already in the Coalition column. This slogan suddenly gives them something tangible to fear from the Coalition. When combined with the "What isn't he telling us?" line, it is capable of provoking some significant fear for these voters.

It's almost a devil you know argument - "We don't really know what this guy stands for, and you want to give him BOTH houses?"

The swinging voter probably isn't voting Coalition because he/she doesn't like Labor policies. Just because the swinging voter is sick of Labor being in power doesn't mean that it wouldn't be nice to have them providing some balance to the Coalition.

How about people who usually vote Liberal? There is nothing positive that Labor can say to these people that will have any effect as they hate Labor already. This slogan, however, might give this group of voters a moment's pause about their vote.

On one hand, it may give the voter a chance to think about voting for a different party. Not the Greens, presumably, but maybe a minor party - given that this slogan is all about the Upper house, it may push the Liberals a little further down the preference list, at least among those voters who actually take the option to preference their Upper House Ballot.

I haven't seen anyone mention Howard's time in control of both houses, but I would have that many people would go straight to that. And, before you know it, we're finessing some WorkChoices memories.

Even more so though, the slogan is saying to those Coalition voters "The Coalition has this one wrapped up. Why not just stay home and tidy up the garage rather than go out and stand in that queue. A $55 fine? Money well spent."

For me, the above paragraph is the real genius of the slogan. Everyone wants to back a winner, so for Labor to explicitly concede defeat would seriously damage their vote.

This slogan will bolster and encourage Labor voters ("Even though we're going to get creamed, your vote could not be more important"), quietly encourage apathy in Coalition voters ("We're going to lose, so why should you bother with voting?") and gives swinging voters a very tangible fear from the Coalition ("Just imagine what they'll do!").

Of course, the real question is whether it's going to make any difference. You can have the best slogan in the world, but if no one is listening anyway then it's not going to make a bit of difference.

PS This will be my last post pre-election. Get out there, exercise your democratic right, then tune into Anthony Green on the ABC and watch the carnage. Hopefully there'll be enough time for dinner and some red with friends before they resume normal programming.

No comments:

Post a Comment