How money and technology are changing Canadian political campaigns.
Campaigns are central to the practice of modern democracy and integral to political participation in the twenty-first century. In Winning Power, Tom Flanagan draws on decades of experience teaching political science and managing political campaigns to inform readers about what goes on behind the scenes.
While the goal of political campaigning - using persuasion to build a winning coalition - remains constant, the means of achieving that goal are always changing. Flanagan dissects the effects of recent changes in financial regulation and grassroots fundraising, the advent of the "permanent campaign," as well as the increase in negative advertising. He pulls these themes together to show how tactics are employed at specific points in a campaign by providing a firsthand account of his management of the Wildrose Party campaign in Alberta's 2012 provincial election. Lifting the veil of campaign secrecy, he provides a candid account of the successes and mistakes the newly formed party made in an election that nearly toppled the four-decade-long dynasty of Alberta's Progressive Conservatives. Modeling its campaign on the 2006 campaign that brought Stephen Harper to 24 Sussex Drive, Wildrose combined grassroots fundraising, an innovative platform that reached out to its electoral coalition, a carefully scripted leader’s tour, as well as negative and positive advertising in the race towards leadership. Success for the party seemed within reach until breakdowns in message discipline in the campaign’s final week caused the Wildrose tide to ebb.
Citing diverse sources such as game theory, evolutionary psychology, and Aristotelian rhetoric, Flanagan explores the timeless aspects of campaigning and emphasizes new strategies of coalition-building. For future campaigners, Winning Power provides textbook illustrations of what does and doesn't work.