Here’s what I would do.
The NDP campaign is in crisis, no doubt. In crisis, not just because a whopping four NDP candidates were booted off the slate in the first week, thanks to ill-advised social media posts.
Not just because it’s Day 5 of #skvotes 2016 and they’ve fired their central campaign manager.
Perhaps it’s because the party is apparently divided, almost in two. A recent poll shows that of those who indicated the Sask NDP was their first choice as a political party, only half said that Cam Broten would make the best choice for Premier of Saskatchewan.
I’m not entirely sure what that half of the Sask NDP’s problem is. Broten is a super likeable guy. He’s visually appealing (don’t tell me this doesn’t matter, because it absolutely does). He’s as qualified as Brad Wall, if we’re comparing resumes. Perhaps he’s not as hard-left wing as some in his party would like him to be, but who is? And what is that half more concerned about: leadership ideology, or leadership strength?
Anyway, bottom line is that despite all these unfortunate handicaps, the NDP campaign is in the crisis state it’s in simply because it’s been sloppy from the start.
Tell me one thing the Sask NDP campaign stands for…one overall message you’ve received loud and clear about what they’ll do if elected, or why you should vote for them.
Politics 101 – pick your plot, choose your ending, then figure out how you’re going to get there. Preferably well in advance of the first day of your party’s campaign.
The Sask Party have done a fabulous job of defining their narrative, and essentially the narrative of the entire campaign: Let’s Never Go Back…do voters want to take Saskatchewan Forward or Back?
They’ve been running an expensive rotation of ads based on this narrative for weeks now (an election spending flaw that needs consideration) and had the Sask NDP defending themselves out of the gate. Which leads me to my first point:
Pick a bloody theme. A slogan. Something, anything, that tells voters in this province what exactly the 2016 Sask NDP stands for – in one line.
If it was entirely my call, that line would be this: ‘We Can’t Change the Past, but Together We Will Build a Better Future’. From there, use that statement to build a rollout for the rest of the campaign.
Unfortunately, that means a hard reset on the current Sask NDP campaign strategy.
Turn it off and on again. Because the last week was a tire fire.
Shut down everything except door-knocking, cancel the beers at Amigos tonight, and hunker down to regroup. First up on the list should be…
Get rid of the gimmicks and scattergun announcements.
No more Gravy Planes or jars of dirt on a card table in front of the Legislature. No more mixed messaging. In the past 5 days the Sask NDP has:
- announced they’ll shut down SaskBuilds. Saskatchewan voters’ number one concern is the economy, and you’re going to close down something called SaskBuilds?
- demanded weekly debates with Brad Wall.
- committed to ending Lean, which I’m pretty sure has already ended.
- said, vaguely, they’ll “fix” the new Moose Jaw hospital.
- committed to a second bridge in Prince Albert
- promised to fund First Nations’ and Metis schools and then “send the bill to the federal government”. Oh, okay.
- cut the number of Saskatchewan MLAs from 61 to 55.
I mean, these are all noble endeavors, but do you get any sense of a plan here? No. Its a dumpster fire of slash, burn, pontificate and promise on random issues that don’t connect: not to a comprehensive narrative, and definitely not with the voter.
Believe it or not, however, finding new material wouldn’t be that hard to do, because again, believe it or not, the Sask NDP has a relatively decent platform on their website.
Did you look? That’s their campaign. That should be the imagery, the tone, the language. Bam. Why aren’t they telling that story?
Well, that would be the next step.
Change the channel. Go positive. Tap into hope and happiness instead of trying to manufacture fear.
That would mean revamping the media release schedule, appearances, messaging, even reprinting mailouts or reshooting television advertising – which in 2016 isn’t that hard to do.
Finally, but probably the most important:
Makeover Cam Broten.
Actually, makeunder Cam Broten.
Angry Cam is not Real Cam. Shouty, stressed out Cam is not Real Cam.
Norwegian sweater Cam is Real Cam, but that thing should still probably be taken off the campaign trail.
Real Cam is an easy sell. He just needs to come back. Chill out, laugh – be himself. Throw on some great dress shirts (blue), dark indigo jeans and some brown boots and get out there. Bring his beautiful wife and kids out to events, kiss some babies, get lots of pics.
This is so EASY. I shouldn’t need to tell you this.
The challenge – this hard reboot… literaly turning the campaign off and then on again – has to be done in the next 48 hours. Then it needs to be disciplined, stay on message, but be flexible enough to adapt.
Anyway. If I was managing the Sask NDP’s campaign right now, that’s how I would do it.
But I’m not.