Print Politics

The Next President: Everybody’s Business or MYOB?

Candidates are campaigning to an international audience, whether they know it or not.

It's a fact. The political decisions made by U.S. voters affect the entire world. Just as this election season has gotten Americans excited about politics again, it has been placed front and center on the international stage, with all eyes on the contest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

According to the New York Times, folks in Great Britain are just as interested in the outcome of the election as we are here at home. Every primary, every debate, and every print/web/TV ad is under scrutiny across the pond. This attention makes me wonder how aware candidates are that they're campaigning to a worldwide audience.

Obviously, Clinton knows how cross-border newsworthy her campaign is. When she held that big Elton John fundraiser last week, I thought it was a bit weird to choose an artist for the project who is not exactly classically American, but it could be that Elton stuck just the right chord with voters abroad. And perhaps this was precisely Clinton's intention.

After all, celebrity of a certain caliber does cross borders, much in the way that Americans living outside of the country do. Many who consider themselves 'citizens of the world' still have the power to vote in U.S. elections, and their numbers are great enough to warrant campaigning not just to the folks at home, but to the world at large.

On Barack Obama's website, there is a page devoted to Americans Abroad, but candidates can't look at their international audience as something to be dealt with separately. A single piece of direct mail printing, sign printing, or TV advertising – geared to a specific demographic in a given state – can rapidly gain national attention, as we saw in Ohio. And the same thing can happen on a much larger scale.

Because all election advertising, even print advertising, is instantly available for anyone to view online, there's no reason to think that a piece which gains national attention isn't also being scrutinized by the rest of the world.

The candidates may be focusing on Pennsylvania right now, but so too, is the rest of the world. A brochure printed for Scranton could reach the eyes of watchers in Great Britain, Canada, the Netherlands, and even much further afield.

But what do you think? Should the candidates be consulting with print advertisers used to running international campaigns? At a time when our reputation, as a country, is all-important, how important is the approval of the international community to the electability of a Presidential candidate?


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