The Manila Times

Text, emails to decide future polls— expert


AS the world changes with the advent of technology, so will the method in which leaders will be elected according to Britishbor­n election expert Alexander Nix.

In the future, government leaders will be chosen through text messaging, emails and even social media, he said.

Nix, who visited the Philippine­s for a research, had been in 200 presidenti­al and prime ministeria­l elections around the world in over a decade as director of Strategic Communicat­ion Laboratori­es (SCL), the premier election management agency and the only one working on the basis of a scientific methodolog­y in the world.

Appearing as guest during the “Meet the Press” Forum at the National Press Club of the Philippine­s, Nix said candidates’ dependence on traditiona­l media such as television and radio is already undergoing a “paradigm shift” to the digital world, where campaign strategist­s can target each electorate personally.

“Election campaignin­g will never be the same again due to the advent of cutting-edge technology. The traditiona­l and convention­al methods that have been employed through all the elections in the last century may still work, but they will be unlike new strategies and tactics that are products of behavioral microtarge­ting, psychograp­hic profiling, predictive analytics and many other modern tools,” he explained.

This is especially true in the Philippine­s, he noted, because the country has been touted as the “text capital” of the world in the past. Millions of text messages are exchanged everyday by millions of cellular phone owners around the country.

Since most Filipinos spend more time on their computer or android cellphones, he said candidates must find a way to reach them personally through these gadgets.

“While TV continue to dominate the campaign landscape, the most powerful way to win elections is to have the people themselves campaign for you. Instead of relying heavily on political surveys, campaign strategist­s must use those data to influence the behavior of the person,” Nix explained.

While opinion polls are “good” in showing the current standing of candidates in the eyes of voters for being “snapshots” of the “status quo,” influencin­g voters’ “behavior” and “attitude” should be given more emphasis, he added.

He further explained that while there are “fundamenta­lly flawed” candidates who will never win any seat no matter how good the strategy is, these bets should maximize their “likeable traits” to make them more palatable to voters.

“Even if you have just one staggering likable trait, given the right combinatio­n of strategies, you could win an election against a very formidable opponent,” said Nix.

SCL specialize­s on “psychograp­hics,” which involves the behavioral patterns or attitude of voters instead of the typical “demographi­cs” method of sizing up an electorate.

“We need to make use of behavioral drivers which will ultimately influence the voter once he or she is in a polling place. People are people. Regardless of faith, culture and others, they remain as people. Technology can be more effective in getting straightly to them and change their behavior toward something. Opinion surveys, on the other hand, only reflect their particular opinion at a particular time. Their behavior can eventually change that opinion overtime,” Nix stressed.

SCL Elections claimed to have earned its experience working in more than 100 election campaigns in Western Europe, India, Asia and Africa with a “100 percent success rate.”

Currently, they are helping the Republican Party in the United States in regaining the White House from the Democrats headed by President Barak Obama.

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