ObamaTM: Political Branding and Participation in the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election
Lewandowski, Andrew David
This study examines the relationship between political branding and political participation in the 2012 U.S. presidential election and argues for a consumer-oriented polity to reinvigorate what it means to participate in elections and democracy in the United States in the 21st century. Political branding is positioned at the nexus of political marketing, political consumerism, and political participation. A theoretical framework was developed employing political branding to research its effects on the election. A national survey of 1,398 American adults was conducted to measure political brand recognition, modes of participation, and attitudes toward candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Findings show young people ages 18-34 participated at higher rates across new and social media modes than people age 35 and older. There is a statistically significant relationship of moderate strength between political brand recognition and political participation, suggesting that strong political branding may encourage participation. Findings also show the Obama brand was stronger than the Romney brand, exhibiting greater social, cultural, and emotional connotations reflected in material and immaterial brand markers and built through time that manifest as political brand equity. The study concludes political branding is a democratizing principle, making the political process more accessible and relevant to average citizens, especially young people.
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