Nov 23, 2016

How Trump & team Brexit used feelings over facts to win the popular vote

First and foremost, apologies for the picture which leads on this particular post but rest assured there is a good reason for it...

Traditionally political campaigns are run on hard facts and policy. After all, if you’re going to hand a person or party the power to make radical changes to the country you live in, you’d probably to want to pick someone who had proven they knew what they were talking about.

Hilary Clinton and the UK’s Remainers banked on this being the recipe for electoral success over the last year. But more fool them...because it was the Brexiteers and Trump who went on to triumph despite their blatant lack of regard for hard facts.

So how exactly did they achieve this?

The answer is simple...they tapped into the feelings of the majority.

Despite US Government figures proving that crime is down, growth and the quality of life across the country is up, people do not feel that way. Figures from the Foresight Factory show that 44% of those in the US feel at risk of financial hardship over the next 5 years. And large numbers also agree they do not save as much money as they would like to because the cost of living is too high. This is why Trump’s war cries of borders being out of control, that the American Dream is dead, and that rising crime is threatening personal security like never before...resonated so strongly with the 290 electoral votes who chose him. Despite this information being torn to shreds for its alleged untruths and selective uses of facts.

Similarly in the UK, the Brexit bus was blazoned with the tagline ‘We send the EU £350 million a week let’s fund our NHS instead. Vote Leave’, which they then backtracked on immediately the morning the result was announced. But it didn’t matter because they’d already tapped into the fact that most of the UK doesn’t feel European, just 15% of us to be exact. As well as the fact that a large proportion of the UK feel as if they are worse off thanks to the EU...even if the complicated facts show otherwise. The figures show that 77 per cent of local authorities in which lots of people earn a low wage (of less than £23,000) voted Leave, compared with only 35 per cent of areas with decent pay packets.

So what can the rest of us take from their successes?

Well we’re an honest bunch of people so we’d never advocate telling untruths to ‘win’ anything! But we would advise organisations wanting to win the hearts, minds and wallets of consumers to pay closer to how they feel, rather than exclusively what the hard facts of traditional market research and trends insights tell them. As Forrester recently explained, and Trump and Brexit proves, understanding & influencing emotion is a vital ingredient for success.