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`... And The Winner is ...'.

An election resembles many real life situations. It's a job interview. It's a trial. It's an audition for a part in a play, a movie or a TV series. It's a championship prizefight. Most of us don't realize it's also a selling job. A popularity contest. Who wins? The answer is simple. The winner is the person liked better by more people, or the one who's disliked less. Likability is the key ingredient.

* They can like you.

* They can dislike you.

* They can be neutral to you (not care one way or the other)

* Or they can feel sorry for you.

They have to like you better than your opponent or you haven't got a chance. Or they have to dislike your opponent more then they dislike you. In either of these scenarios, they have to care enough to go to the polls. And no one will dispute that fewer and fewer eligible voters are bothering to show up on Election Day. Neither candidate seems worth bothering about. "Politics as usual." "They're all the same." "My vote won't count."

Two perfect examples of my theory come to mind. First, Ronald Reagan destroyed two opponents with more "experience" than he had. It didn't matter. The uncommitted didn't care one whit for his opponents. They liked Reagan. They like him a lot. And they showed up for him. There were no "Reagan Democrats." That's an oxymoron. They were uncommitted voters who grew to like him and wanted to show it. They liked him so much, a lot of them can't recall right away who his two opponents were. (Did you have to pause for a while to remember Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale?)

My second example is the 1996 election. We elected a man whose trustworthiness was questioned ... but likeable. He defeated a man who desperately needed an intravenous feeding of charisma. I can't tell you how many of the Republicans I met during the '96 campaign assured me what a great guy Bob Dole was; how he charmed groups of supporters; what a great sense of humor he had. Unfortunately for him, he never let the voters see that Bob Dole. He wanted us to see the former majority leader of the U.S. Senate.

The solid professional. The legislator.

He came across mean-spirited, crotchety, nasty, humorless. It's no accident that he named his dog "Leader." Bill Clinton's dog is "Buddy." I'm not a shrink, but that speaks volumes to me about electability.

The public watched Clinton's grand jury testimony on television. They couldn't believe what they were seeing. And you know what they said? "You blankety-blank liar!. I like you." On the Friday night after the '96 election, loser Bob Dole appeared with David Letterman. His words were unforgettable, He said, "Now I can go back to being myself." Where were you? Why were you hiding? Why couldn't you show us "the real Bob Dole"? If Bob Dole had been able to have as much fun running for president as he's having selling Viagra, he might be running for re-election today.

It's a lesson we should all learn.

Arch Lustberg is recognized as one of the leading trainers in effective communication based on the practical, results oriented focus of his sessions. Arch established his own training company in 1984 having previously directed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Communicator[R] workshops for six years. He will lead two Leadership Training Institute sponsored workshops, Communication, Not Confrontation on Tuesday, December 5, from 1:30 - 5:00 p.m. and Testifying with Impact on Wednesday, December 6, from 1:30 - 5:00 p.m. during NLC's Congress of Cities in Boston. His video's will be available for sale at the workshop and information is available at www.lustberg.net.

For more information, visit the conference website at www.nlc.org/conf/index.html and click on the Leadership Training Institute Seminars button, call the Leadership Training Hotline at (202) 626-3170, or send an e-mail message to Keith Kirk, Kirk@nlc.org.
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Title Annotation:election like popularity contest
Author:Lustberg, Arch
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 9, 2000
Words:669
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