Influence in the News: Republican Primary Edition

Influence is around us every day.  Influence is defined as the power to sway or affect based on prestige, wealth, ability or power.

In other words, we’re trying to get other people to do the things we want them to do, and we want it to be their idea!  Years of behavior research studies have lead people to realize that they can speed up the rate by which influence is created, mainly by triggering a response in those we want to influence.

With that in mind, following are several examples of influence tools at work, specifically in the very busy world of presidential politics.

“Do you want the true conservative, Newt Gingrich, or the Massachusetts Moderate?” Newt Gingrich after the debate preceding the Florida Primary (Contrast)

“If elected,” a) Michele Bachman promised that she would bring back $2 gasoline; b) Herman Cain promised not to sign any legislation or bills longer than three pages; c) All of the candidates have promised to repeal “Obamacare”; d) Mitt Romney promised to create 11.5 million jobs; e) Ron Paul promised to remove US troops from all overseas engagements (Reciprocity – vote for me and…)

Rick Santorum has consistently held socially conservative views and has advocated “compassionate conservatism” (Commitment and Consistency)

Donald Trump endorses Mitt Romney; Herman Cain endorses Newt Gingrich (Social Proof)

In the business I had, we invested in over 100 different businesses and net-net, taking out the ones where we lost jobs and those that we added, those businesses have now added over 100,000 jobs.”– Mitt Romney, Jan. 7, 2012 (Authority)

Ron Paul is America's leading voice for limited, constitutional government, low taxes, free markets, sound money, and a pro-American foreign policy (Scarcity)

Conclusion—Just shy of 130 million votes were cast in the 2008 presidential election. It takes a lot of influence to get that 65,000,001st vote!


Image: “Florida Republican Primary Candidates” Cartoon by DonkeyHotey. No endorsements are intended or implied.

Influence Is Everywhere: Saturday’s Chicago Tribune

We are surrounded by the six principles of influence every day.  In this past Saturday’s Chicago Tribune:

  • Poll: Optimism on the economy edges up…index rises 6 points since November (Contrast)

  • In return for a warm reception at Walter Payton High School in Chicago, President Hu Jintao of China invited 20 faculty and students to visit China this summer (Reciprocity)

  • A 300-pound man explains that in 2004 he attended a Bears game, painted himself from head to waist in blue and orange, and went shirtless.  The Bears won that game, so he has continued to be painted and shirtless, regardless of the weather outside (Commitment & Consistency)

  • Obama taps GE chief (Jeff Immelt) to lead an initiative on jobs, has a two-fold aim: 1) the administration is not anti-business and 2) the economy is no longer on life support (Authority—although the President is trying to use JeffImmelt’s authority)

  • “Winner Golden Globe,” “The best movie of 2010,” “America’s top critics are raving,” “An amazing 3D experience.” Headlines off four movie ads (Social Proof—you'll love them too!)

  • At Muller Honda, there are only 15 Civics, 25 Accords, 25 Pilots, 45 Odysseys and 15 CR-Vs (Scarcity—get them while you can)

Two lessons come from all of these examples:

  1. Influence doesn't happen by chance, but by plan

  2. The vast majority of the time, we are so busy doing our work that we miss the doors that open, giving us an opportunity to influence others

Influence Is Everywhere: 6 Principles in a Week

We are surrounded by the six principles of influence in use every day. Just in the past week:

  1. NBA players are being signed by new teams at bargain rates (Contrast—between the past and current economic climates gives owners more leverage)

  2. The US and Russia commit to cut nuclear arms stockpiles by 2/3 (Reciprocity)

  3. GM exits bankruptcy; CEO vows better performance (Commitment & Consistency)

  4. Iranians continue to protest, weeks after a disputed election (Social Proof)

  5. Bernard Madoff gets 150 year prison sentence (Authority—by the judge!)

  6. Sales of Michael Jackson's albums doubled last week (the perception of Scarcity)

There are two lessons in this for all of us:

  • These things (for the most part) happen by plan

  • A conscious choice has been made to walk through the door, or to take advantage of the opportunity that has been presented to influence