Yes, several. The central lesson is the lesson of most elections since 2016 – Most voters are not on Twitter or Facebook. Some may have accounts but, don’t use them as often or use social media to talk politics. Most of political Twitter (and Facebook) are hardcore activists and ideologues of one stripe or another and most people are not those things. If you are not an activist of some kind and not a hardcore ideologue you’d do best to stay away from talking politics on social media because you will be chewed up and spat out.
There is a huge bloc of people between the left and the right who are just living their lives and trying to provide for themselves, their families and to an extent, their communities. Most of them do not like poverty, or racism or any kind of bigotry. They do like things that help them to provide for themselves, their families and, to an extent, their communities and most people do not consider themselves wealthy, unless they are *really* wealthy (there is a ton of research to show this).
They are also susceptible to fear and are (small c) conservative when it comes to change – because they are not hardcore activists or ideologues. They don’t spend their spare time reading non-fiction books on history, sociology, economics and science. They don’t spend time discussing these things with *experts* (with varying levels of actual expertise) on Twitter, Facebook or Reddit.
So, anytime someone starts talking about “change” their immediate question is how is this going to impact me? My family? My community? And at this point they can be manipulated and lied to by the right and the left and they will vote for whichever option sounds the least scary. They can easily be convinced that someone, somewhere is getting a better deal than them. They can be convinced, for instance, that immigrants or billionaires are damaging them in some way, they can be convinced that a single-payer pharma plan will save them money, or that it will cost them too much.
(Remember even someone who is forced to choose between their meds and their groceries can be convinced that “at least you get to make that choice – under this new plan, the government will just take the money out of your paycheck”).
So, in 2015 people in the UK were convinced that the UK could do better outside the EU because it could then trade with anyone and make its own rules. A slim majority of people thought that might be a good idea. In 2016 people narrowly voted for a guy they knew from TV, over a woman that they didn’t like .. for whatever reason. Of course not everyone shared these exact views, but surely enough of them to swing either of those close elections. In 2018 in the US, the relatively affluent middle class in the suburbs of large cities decided that they didn’t like the way Trump conducted himself – didn’t like his belittling of his enemies, his racism or having him represent the US on the world stage and the Dems retook the house. In 2019 in Canada people in the suburbs of large Canadian cities decided that things were going pretty good for them, personally; that they definitely didn’t want more cuts to health care or education, and that the Conservatives weren’t really offering them anything they wanted enough to take a risk, so the Conservatives remained the opposition. In the UK they … well they mainly wanted everyone to shut up I think but even many who didn’t really want Brexit also didn’t want to radically upend the entire UK economy as proposed by Corbyn. So they voted for Brexit (at least everyone would shut up about it and stop embarrassing them in front of a global audience) and for a little spending boost to the NHS and the police – because they like those things.
The strategy, for anyone interested going should be:
- A) Give people some credit (not least for staying clear of talking politics on social media)
- B) Have some empathy – only being empathetic to people like you isn’t really empathy. Ask yourself “If you were them, how would you react to you?”.
- C) Find a way to talk to them, because you can’t do it with really clever memes or by being retweeted a thousand times (they’re not part of that world).
- D) Try to understand what motivates them, what their lives are like, what scares them and what keeps them up at night (DO NOT make them feel guilty about their lives, accuse them of being a cuck or tell them to check their privilege … that’s why they were only on Twitter for like an hour, once in 2010).
- E) You can try to an extent to get them to see things your way, but for the most part, tell them how your team is going to improve their lives, without making things harder – or at least much harder. Take their concerns about your ideas seriously and try to ease their minds (or at the very least explain why it will be worth the sacrifice.)
- F) Remember that most people *will* vote for the lesser of two evils, or put another way – if faced with a choice between unknown pathways, people will pick the one that sounds the safest.
Any political party obviously has its core of supporters, people who are active, loud and even angry but in Canada, the US and the UK there are also a significant number of people who aren’t hardcore anything and never will be. With the current partisan divide where it Is (in all three countries) those political agnostics are the ones who swing elections one way or another.