SDSU Communications Strategy Task

Congratulations! You have just scored a communication dream job with a local politician. You are immediately tasked with helping to identify and implement a communication a strategy that will appeal specifically to SDSU voters.

First, choose whether you are working for CA Governor Gavin Newsom or SD Mayor Todd Gloria. Second, choose and describe a pressing issue for CA or SD voters that the leader needs to address. Third, given what you know about our discipline and what you have learned so far in our class readings, lectures, discussions, and video clips, briefly detail what communication strategy you suggest employing, and provide reasoning. Finally, outline at least 2 specific messages you recommend in order to to appeal to the particular constituency. Provide a rationale for why these messages might prove effective.

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only two candidates in the campaign, this
approach usually becomes a negative
campaign, which is similar to the in
man-out man approach. What typically
makes it different is the absence of any
comparative messages. The messages
focus instead on negative factors related
to the opponent, with little or no positive
messages about the candidate provided.
Strategically, that can be a risky gamble;
a lack of positive information about
candidates can keep voters away from the
polls, rather than attract them toward the
only alternative.
Another scenario for this approach
occurs during the primary nomination
process. Although several candidates
may officially be on the ballot, one
candidate will sometimes campaign on
the basis of being the only “viable
alternative” for defeating the nominee of
the other party. In this instance, the
focus of the campaign messages is on the
legitimacy or credibility factors of the
campaign, rather than the issues. The
argument becomes, “Vote for me,
candidates were running for the position,
but only one of them had experience as a
prosecutor. That candidate ran a
campaign based on “the-only-one-who-
has-prosecuted-criminals” argument and
won the election.
When the candidate of a political party
finds that winning a political campaign-
or even advancing significantly–will be
extremely difficult for social, cultural, or
even more abstract reasons, he or she
may resort to a strategy of triangulation.
This approach creates a distraction,
which can reduce the number of votes
cast for an opponent. Typically, these
votes may be deflected to a third
candidate or be dissuaded from being
cast at all. Perhaps a burning issue may
be raised that engenders support from
groups that change their customary
voting habits. In the days before
campaign finance disclosure, straw
candidates were recruited by some major
candidates to siphon votes away from
their opposition. Although this probably
happened less than charged, there is no
The Coalition Strategy
Many campaigns have often worked to
build a coalition of groups that, when
combined, give them enough votes to win
an election. It’s not always easy to do,
since a message that might appeal to one
group may have a negative impact with
another. Thus the challenge of the
campaign is to develop a broad group of
messages that can be used when trying to
attract any and/or all of the groups
involved. Despite the complexity of the
approach, it has been successfully used.
For example, President Barack Obama
successfully used a coalition strategy in
his 2008 and 2012 presidential
campaigns. Obama successfully brought
together a coalition of minorities, young
people, women, and the college-educated
to win both elections (Gerson, 2015).
The Anxiety Strategy
The anxiety strategy has been a favorite
argument becomes, “Vote for me,
because I can defeat the other guy,”
rather than “Vote for me because I
represent your issues.”

The role definition strategy attempts to
gain an advantage with the voters by
defining the candidate as an “ideal
candidate” (Nimmo & Savage, 1976) for
the office being sought. For example, if
polling data reveal that the voters’ ideal
candidate is one who is a problem solver,
then the role definition strategy would
try to develop an image of the candidate
as either the “only” problem solver
among the contenders, or at least the
“best” problem solver in the race. The
specific nature of the ideal role can vary
with each campaign or position, but the
overall goal remains the same-the
candidate whose image comes closest to
the ideal has the best chance of winning
the election. The 1990 campaign for
attorney general of Alabama is the
prototype for the role definition strategy.
In that campaign, three different
candidates were running for the position
people, women, and the college-educated
to win both elections (Gerson, 2015).
The Anxiety Strategy
The anxiety strategy has been a favorite
of Republicans for nearly two decades
(Peters, 2014). The idea is to motivate
voters by appealing to and using the
anxiety that they feel, particularly about
the future. As Kitchens and Powell (2015)
noted, fear can be a powerful motivator
in political communication, mainly
because voters who are afraid are easier
to manipulate. In the case of Republican
strategies, “few issues have proven as
potent when linked together as border
security and the fear of terrorism” (p.

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