The American electorate is in a rare “Persuasion Window"

There’s no shortage of Zoom meetings and webinars for political practitioners to access during this second quarter of the Covid Pandemic. We attend more than our share looking for the “new new thing” on behalf of our clients. And occasionally we learn of insights that help us all use political communication tools better. Such was the case last week in a presentation by Maya Bourdeau at FrameShift and Anat Sheneker-Osorio at ASO Communications:

The American electorate is in a rare “Persuasion Window." 

They maintain that after more than a decade of hardening partisan divisions, we are in a brief period where beliefs are movable and even vote choices are more malleable. They explain that the video of the George Floyd tragedy and the ensuing protests have prompted mainstream America to stop, process and try to understand. They have tested a series of ads on a range of progressive issues and candidate choices and found that more of the ads to have an impact and the effects larger than normal. It’s Christmas for political consultants in that voters are and struggling with previously held beliefs and are open to other ideas.

How long will the Persuasion Window continue? No one knows but a review of the theories behind the persuasion window will help us handicap the timeline.

  • Anxiety invites greater cognitive reappraisal—George Floyd’s murder was a seismic shock and the more recent death of Rayshard Brooks will extend this national mood.
  • Online viewing is at an all time high with more people working from home.
  • Personal shocks—losing a job, health risks from COVID, etc.—prompt people to reappraise their view of the world.
  • Personal or family distress could nurture empathy for others in new ways.

After a decade of fighting tooth and nail for the ever-shrinking sliver of the electorate that was persuadable, it’s exciting to know that more voters are now listening and watching with an open mind to the arguments progressives are putting forward.

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