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NDC needs to end strong

The campaign of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has gathered significant momentum in the last couple weeks and if the party is able to navigate the remaining days effectively it can produce a shock surprise in the elections.

For this to happen NDC must do the following – target specific segments of the electorate with specific messaging that will canalise their emotions to go out and vote for the party, intensify the work on the ground canvassing and making contact with undecided voters, and set up an efficient get out the vote machinery for Election Day.

NDC must be under no illusion, although the party’s base is fired up and there is a sense among the population that change is needed, for the party to win the general elections it must generate a massive surge in the final days of the campaign to overcome the New National Party’s firewall of support.

Though canvassing the undecideds and unknowns are important at this stage, generating a surge of voters that will swing in favour of the NDC is critical to overcoming the NNP’s firewall of assured voters.

Therefore, if those in the inner circle of the NDC’s campaign feel they can rest on their laurels and believe they have it in the bag is a joke they are making for the noise in the market is not the sale of fish.

That is why NDC’s team of strategists have to apply market segmentation and product sales theory from marketing and employ political segmentation strategies to identify key segments of the electorate to include youths, undecideds and public servants among others and create target specific messaging to these groups to get them to channel their votes towards the party.

At this stage of the campaign, the airwaves, television screens on prime time news, and social media platforms should be blanketed with massaging targeted at particular segments of the electorate.

Similarly, there should be targeted messaging directed at priority sectors of the economy such as healthcare, agriculture, education, and youth development among others.

The ability of targeted messaging to change the course of an election is well documented in the annals of politics. From President Lyndon B Johnson’s, ‘daisy’ ad attacking his opponent Barry Goldwater’s advocacy for nuclear weapons to George W. Bush’s 1988 Willie Horton ad which portrayed Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis as being soft on crime and Boris Johnson’s, ‘love actually’ parody ad on Brexit, these seminal advertisements have shown how powerful targeted messaging can be towards the end of an election campaign.

The NDC must step up on targeted messaging if it is to win the fast approaching election.

The second activity NDC should focus on in this final stage of the campaign is canvassing. Some might argue that doing so at this stage may not make much of a difference, however if emphasis is placed on the undecided and to prepare the get out the vote campaign it can lead to increased turnout at the polls on Election Day.

Voter persuasion efforts through deep canvassing of undecided voters can change the minds of voters and get them to go out and vote even at this late stage. Canvassing in this final stage of a campaign can be an effective get out the vote tool. It can be used to provide constituents with information on location of polling stations, voting deadlines, identify those in need of transportation to the polls, and remind constituents to walk with identification cards.

The canvass must be done smartly, it must be targeted and serve as a direct outreach to voters who have not yet made up their minds or on the fence considering whether to participate in the elections to be effective.

Although late stage canvassing can help there must be an entire machinery set up to get out the vote on Election Day. The machinery must be well resourced and funded for it to operate efficiently.

Each campaign team should have a separate structure responsible for get out the vote headed by a general coordinator with other persons responsible for critical areas such as transportation, logistics, preparation and distribution of cards indicating location of polling stations where persons in respective polling division will vote, down to handlers to raise persons that are not fully mobile into vehicles to go to the polling station.

Polling division captains should be given the task to identify persons that would need transportation or any other form of assistance on polling day. The get out the vote machinery must seek to cover all the bases and no fine detail should be overlooked, having been told the story of how in 2003 over sixty fishermen from Carriacou and Petite Martinique who were based on the Carenage in St. George’s, all of whom were NDC supporters, requested gas for three trawlers to take them back up to vote and never received it, had to remain on the mainland not able to vote.

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The NDC went on to lose the Carriacou seat by six votes and the election by one seat that year.

The aim is to get all your supporters to vote as early as possible and have a system for those who might not have the time to vote in the morning because of work to do so later before polls close.

To do so there must be a timely exchange of information between agents at the polling stations and the constituency office to determine supporters that have voted and those that have not and efforts should be made to locate and get these persons to their respective polling stations before the deadline.

The machinery must be able to function with a high degree of coordination and efficiency to make sure NDC voters turn out to vote. A repeat of the many instances where elderly and immobile supporters waited to be taken to the polling station and no transportation turned up or where persons are not aware of the location of the polling station or forgot their identification card must not be repeated. The aim must be to get all your supporters on the voters list to go out and vote on Election Day.

With that being said, for NDC to overlook the matter of the alleged two thousand plus persons expected to return to Grenada to vote will be to its own peril. If according to the law a person who has not resided on the island continuously for at least six months or is now a citizen of another country cannot vote, then those persons coming in who fall outside the law must not be allowed to vote.

It is easy for persons coming in or who have already returned to be identified and polling agents should be given a list of names of persons in the polling division to look out for and object to them voting on polling day.

A quick response team of lawyers should be on standby to take up the matter at the highest level of the Electoral office and foreign Election observers informed.

The stakes are too high for this alleged practice of the incumbent party to fly in persons to vote to not go uncontested this time around.

This is an expressed advantage fueled by deep pocket financers operating within the system of clientelism that will seek to undermine our democracy.

Should NDC step up on targeted messaging, intensify canvassing of the undecided and create an efficient get out the vote machinery it should be in a very good position going into the elections. However, the party must continue to build momentum to a climax just before Election Day.

The NDC should try to build hype, excitement, feel good vibes and continued momentum in the last weekend leading into the elections.

The political leader and his team should embark on touch down activities in various markets and other places across the island where people congregate to interact and ‘touch flesh’ with constituents in a direct, intimate manner.

The final Sunday rally in St. David’s must be an explosive event with lots of hype, excitement, powerful closing speeches replete with powerful punch lines and catchy phrases that would canalise the final massive surge of voters towards the party.

NDC must end its campaign strong and explosive with a massive, massive crowd showing on Sunday that would create a cataclysmic jolt of energy to generate the tsunami of voters required to overcome the NNP’s firewall.

To do that it will have to get a leading foreign act or acts along with local artists and traditional mas to create a massive feel good carnival like atmosphere to excite supporters, the undecided and those who are still on the fence to come out and vote on Thursday. For the influence of culture on politics is profound and anything less could spell defeat.

NDC must end strong if it is to win the general election.

Special Correspondent