Friday, June 23, 2006

Pasadena Star-News - Draw California voters back to the polls

Pasadena Star-News - Draw California voters back to the polls:
"IN the recent election, voters were asked to cast ballots in a statewide primary election. Less than a third of registered voters cast ballots.

This was one of the lowest turnout gubernatorial primary elections in California's history.

Why were most voters no-shows?

It is hard to know what was driving such miserably low levels of voter participation. But a few hypotheses are floating around that merit research in coming months.

First, low voter participation in statewide primaries is not a new phenomenon. In fact, as I've written recently, since California's experiment with the 'blanket primary,' voter interest in statewide primaries has dropped considerably.

In 1998, when the state used the blanket primary in a gubernatorial primary, 42.5percent of registered voters participated. But in the 1994 and 2002 primaries, with more restrictive participation rules like those used in the recent primary, voter participation was 35 percent or less.

So one important explanation for low voter turnout in our recent primary is how participation is restricted for primary-election voters. If voters can't cast meaningful ballots, they don't turn out to vote.

Second, for many registered voters in the state, given the rules restricting which primary they could cast ballots in, there was little on the ballot to drive them to the polls. Republicans (making up around a third of registered voters statewide) had few choices to make on the ballot. So, after the final tallies are completed, we'll likely find that participation by registered Republicans was slight.

Third, registered Democrats (and the 'decline-to-state' votes who could cast ballots in the Democratic primary if they wanted) had important choices to make in a number of statewide races. But in general, unless they were political junkies, it was impossible for them to figure out which Democratic candidate might be best suited for a particular statewide seat, as there are few differences between most Democratic candidates in California.

Further, the campaigns that Democrats ran didn't help. Even though many millions were spent in the Democratic contests on candidate advertising, little of it was informative. Instead of informative campaign communications, the advertising blitz was mainly mudslinging. It's also worth noting that a lot of the campaign money was spent on uninformative mailers and those idiotic recorded telephone messages that turn voters off."
So how much does this sound like a "blame the customer" excuse of a failed marketing campaign?

It's hard to acquire customers, when your product is sub optimal and your process is broken. It's very hard to grow a market, when customer acquisition costs go through the roof to try to make up for a bad customer experience.

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