Election 2012

Obama won playing the charismatic priest

Obama won playing the charismatic priest

The professor, whose book “Charisma: Why Obama Will Beat Romney”, which predicted the Nov. 6 results in May, explained the lessons candidates can learn from President Barack Obama’s religious branding.

“2008 and 2012 show that presidential campaigns are increasingly ‘religious’ — that candidates need a compelling creation story–where they came from and what they overcame in life,” he said.

Other tools in creating a religious-vibe for the president were: sacred words, like hope and belief and revival-like rallies, Taylor said.

Obama also used sacred icons, such as reverential images of the candidate– and saintly supporters, such as the Hollywood celebs and rock stars who publicly endorsed him and who testified to their faith in him.

“Obama resurrected his pseudo-religious brand from 2008 and asked voters for more time to work his economic miracles,” said communications expert and author Mark Edward Taylor.

“He preached hope, calling followers to continue to have faith in him. In my academic field, that’s known as ‘priestly propaganda‘ — telling people what they want to believe regardless of its veracity,” he said.

“His criticisms of Romney late in the race were not designed to gain independent voters so much as to turn out Obama’s base,” he said. “Obama needed to clarify that he was the godly candidate and Romney was the devilish candidate — hence, the class-warfare rhetoric about poor vs. rich.”

Taylor said he wrote the book in May after watching Romney in the primaries, where he noticed that Romney did not understand how to communicate a political message in a religious way.

In a battle of brands, Romney was going up against the biggest and the best, said the Chicago native, whose case study of the 2008 campaign became his book “Branding Obamessiah: The Rise of An American Idol.”

Mark Edward Taylor

Taylor earned his PhD at Northwestern University and worked on the case study while teaching at Loyola University. Both schools are in Chicago.

“Romney never really had a chance because the Obama brand, created from 2004 to 2008, became one of the most powerful political brands in U.S. history — built on a religion-like faith that’s more powerful than political or economic reality,” Taylor said. “His campaign received ‘Advertising Age’s’ coveted ‘Marketer of the Year; award in 2008.”

With his brand baked into the American psyche, Hurricane Sandy, the weak economy and the debacle at Benghazi were not powerful enough to derail the president’s march to re-election, he said.

The rest was math, he said.

The only damage to the Obama brand was the stubborn unemployment, but it was not enough of an opening for Romney, he said. “About 40 percent of voters were going to support Obama regardless of the economy,” he said.

“Obama told the additional 10 percent of voters that he needed for victory that the economy was improving,” he said.

Because Obama made his case that things were getting better in religious terms, his followers became believers, Taylor said.

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