Shopping for Votes

Shopping for Votes

How Politicians Choose Us and We Choose Them

Book - 2013
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A witty, insightful, and provocative look at the inside world of political marketing and its impact on democracy

Inside the political backrooms of Ottawa, the Mad Men of Canadian politics are planning their next consumer-friendly pitch. Where once politics was seen as a public service, increasingly it's seen as a business, and citizens are considered customers. But its unadvertised products are voter apathy and gutless public policy.

Ottawa insider Susan Delacourt takes readers onto the world of Canada's top political marketers, explaining how parties slice and dice their platforms according to what polls say voters' priorities are in each constituency, and how parties control the media.Provocative, incisive and entertaining, Checked Out is The Age of Persuasion meets The Armageddon Factor .
Publisher: Madeira Park, British Columbia : Douglas & McIntyre, 2013.
ISBN: 9781926812939

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r
rpavlacic
Aug 12, 2015

Negative advertising and market research has been around since the 1960s (think the "Daisy" ad and Kennedy's PR strategy as examples). But it was in the 1990s that databases that track virtually every potential voter, based partly on census data (despite official claims such records are sealed) as well as telephone polling that asks innocuous questions, that plot out who to target for votes, came into widespread use. This book uses the analogy of sports and a certain coffee shop chain to explain how people think in Canada - or supposedly do; then craft ads designed to play to the worst fears rather than the best hopes of us. One bizarre example is using someone's last name to send out holiday cards - Hebrew for Jewish voters, Chinese for people whose names are Lee (even if they aren't Chinese). To treat voters as consumers is really disappointing, but Delacourt puts the finger where it belongs.

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1aa
Aug 08, 2015

Reads like a three hundred plus pages long newspaper article. The first few pages are quick and easy, but grade school level writing quickly becomes tedious and the reading is like walking across a field covered in three feet of snow.

j
johnsankey
Apr 19, 2014

Delacourt is a TV journalist and it shows - there are sound-bite insights on every page of this book. She shows how Canadian politics evolved from unifying principles (telling voters what's best for them) to selling leaders (persuading voters who is best for them) to unabashed marketing (making parties attractive to voters). She describes a today where most Canadians seem to thing of nothing but shopping for self-gratification, including while they vote. Polling has evolved from global guide to niche marketing, made possible by use of multiple data sources to break societal groups into individual voters. The overall effect is to disintegrate national vision and societal cohesion. But, since we give parties that use marketing methods more votes than those who don't, all parties are forced to join in and become much more similar to each other than in the past.

e
eastvanbookfan
Mar 20, 2014

As a follower of Canadian politics I enjoyed reading this book. Sure much of it was stuff I had already seen and/or labelled on my own. I wish more people read these kinds of books so they would be better prepared, in my opinion, to cast votes for all levels of government (municipal, provincial and federal). It will be interesting to see where some of these trends (marketing, data analysis) go in the years to come.......

b
bbb1771
Jan 28, 2014

Canadian based overview of how governments have changed how they court voters by changing them from 'citizens' to 'taxpayers'. Well written, easy to read, deeply disturbing.

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rpavlacic
Aug 12, 2015

"The truth seems to be no medium is better suited for the propagation of untruths better than television; there is no medium so effective as television not only for dissembling and distortion but for inventing reality. Only television can use obfuscating charm and sleaze to such powerful effect. A well-packaged lie can penetrate the thickest skull, given enough frequency, a modicum of cleverness and the avarice money can command." - Dalton Camp

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