The final of the presidential race is coming. At the start of it there were forty-four candidates. Someone was able to bypass the nearest rival at the turn, someone couldn’t keep the advantage obtained from the start, someone withdrew himself from the race, and someone rolled quietly without even attempting to get involved in the fight for the top places. Only two will go further. The rest will go to prepare their race cars for the parliamentary track.
But even now, without knowing the final results of the race, you can see how the presidential campaign mercilessly dispelled a number of illusions. These illusions did not allow many good candidates to become leaders in this uncompromising race.
The first illusion: “you can compete without a media resource”, or “the best candidate”. “I’m the best and most honest, it’s enough for people just to find out about it, and they’ll support me. And all the TV channels are bought by oligarchs, and everyone knows it,” the presidential candidate says. No, they will not support you and, most likely, they will not even recognize you. Media resource still decides. The voter is more likely to believe a message he heard twenty times than one he heard five times. But most of the candidates were not heard at all.
The frequency and coverage of media pressure remains the main factors ensuring the flow of votes. The voter will not be actively interested and will not independently search for information about the candidate in order to choose objectively the best. He will believe in what will be repeated many times from the screen. This indicator is called SOV (the share of the voice of a political brand). To put it simply: the louder you shout, the better they hear.
And practice has shown that the factor of media resources ownership increased significantly in comparison with previous elections. The current president is the brightest illustration. It is the totality of the media coverage that allowed Poroshenko to emerge from a hopeless situation into the top three. And those who are preparing for a parliamentary race should seriously think about their own media groups.
The second illusion: "request for new faces" or "recognition and once again recognition." Political scientists complain about the lack of "new faces" in politics in vain. In this campaign, there were enough newbies. It is a pity that they found no particular response in the hearts of voters. Dmytro Gnap, Dmytro Dobrodomov, Olexander Shevchenko, Olexander Danyliuk and several others. All of them can be called "new faces". They, for the most part, were not even heard. Partially it happened due to the lack of a resource. But largely because of the unknownness of these people for the broad masses of voters before the start of the campaign. For the same reason, poor Olexander Shevchenko more than once had to explain that he was not the one who stole the hats in Davos, but another presidential candidate with the same last name.
In spite of everything, people follow with interest and tend to trust those whom they think they know well. Even if this knowledge is only an illusion created by TV. Talking about yourself, explaining your ideas and calling for support are completely different stages and goals of communication. And you should not mix them.
All race leaders, including the comedian, have lived on television for at least fifteen years. Thus, recognition or, more precisely, brand-awareness has been and remains the most important indicator.
The third illusion: volunteers and crowdfunding. "We will campaign, relying on volunteers and donations from ordinary people." Surprisingly, this illusion had a chance to become reality. Dmytro Gnap became the first presidential candidate in our history to raise money by crowdfunding, that is, through public donations. But unfortunately, it was not possible to develop this success into a real popular campaign.
Just as no other candidate has succeeded in it. All candidates whose campaigns were at least slightly noticeable were financed in different proportions from the candidate’s personal funds and donations from big business.
The same applies to volunteers, that is, people working in a candidate’s campaign not for money, but because they support him. Such people really exist, especially in the headquarters of low-budget candidates. But on the scale of the political campaign, the contribution of volunteers remains minimal, if not nominal. And the majority of those who were called "volunteers" received money at headquarters for their work.
Obviously, the majority of Ukrainians are not willing to spend their money and personal time to support even those candidates who are sympathetic to them. Perhaps in the future there will be a politician or a political force which idea will become so fascinating that the Ukrainians will want to support it both by money and personal participation. For now the financial resource remains the most important in election campaigns.
The fourth illusion: the main thing is votes in your favor. As one tyrant said: “It doesn’t matter how they vote. It’s important, how they count”. And although it may seem that it is too early to talk about it, but it is obvious that the control over the commissions is important. In fact, an unprecedented number of technical candidates might appear with some purpose.
First of all, this problem affects candidates who do not apply for the final race. After all, they will become the main source of the necessary result for the leaders of the race. The state is not yet able to become a guarantor of fair counting of votes, which means that the task of protecting the votes lies with the candidate himself.
And here we are again returning to illusion number three. After all, according to modest estimates, a presidential candidate needs at least twenty million dollars to ensure the participation of his members of commissions and observers on polling stations. And don’t forget about a mobile group of lawyers, journalists and a whole range of what is called the Election Day special project.
Generally speaking, these elections are not much different from those five or ten years ago. The same tools of political marketing, only adjusted for the online-communications. Despite expectations, neither the Maidan, nor the war could not push the society to a qualitatively different level of consciousness. Only a very small percentage of citizens are ready for active participation in the political life of the country or for a rational analysis of political processes. The absolute majority is still easily susceptible to massive media pressure.
There are still some reasons for optimism. Ukrainian society is developing. And the abovementioned example of successful fundraising for a candidate is an obvious illustration of this process.
However, it is important to understand that in the near future, the public activities of politicians will be carried out within the framework of person marketing. And the advantage will be given to the candidates who have fresh marketing resources and actively use them. This is especially important for those who see themselves as MPs on the future elections. They shouldn’t fall in illusions again.