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Where's the Hook?

Shivani Tripathi

Posted on January 3, 2020 08:08

1 user

In order for a candidate to be successful, they need to stand out.

After months of low polling and skimpy donations, Julian Castro has dropped out of the presidential race. 

It’s intriguing to see the differing trajectories of candidates who started out with little recognition. Some, like Tim Ryan, never escaped obscurity. Others, like Castro, managed to stay semi-relevant before fizzling out. Andrew Yang, on the other hand, was one of the seven candidates to make the December debates. 

So why did Ryan and Castro fail?

It’s because they didn’t have a “hook.”

Each candidate is like an essay. For frontrunners like Bernie Sanders, everyone knows the general summary: Socially liberal, democratic socialist, etc. The public doesn’t need to analyze each paragraph to get the gist of his platform and understand what distinguishes him. 

For lesser-known candidates, people have to “read” their essays with fresh eyes. For these underdogs, a platform that aligns with their party’s ideals isn’t enough. Their introductory paragraphs need to have a hook--something so unique that it compels the public to learn more. 

For instance, Yang’s hook is a universal basic income (UBI). Regardless of whether one thinks UBI is a good idea or not, the guy who wants to give everyone a thousand dollars a month is memorable. Moreover, Yang is the only candidate to emphasize the devastating impact automation could have on millions of jobs. 

Tulsi Gabbard is another candidate who has ascended in recognition and polling. Her hook is her firm anti-war stance. Since day one of her campaign, she has reiterated her plan to stop “wasteful, regime-change wars” and redirect the money to domestic needs. Another distinguishing factor is her bad blood with the DNC. After Hillary Clinton baselessly smeared her as a “Russian Asset,” Gabbard topped news headlines, garnered thousands of social media followers, and gained higher polling numbers. 

Even Donald Trump had a hook. In 2016, he rose in fame--some may call it notoriety--by repeating slogans like “Make America Great Again” and “build that wall.” With each controversial statement, Trump edged out his establishment-Republican competition. 

Unlike Yang, Gabbard, and Trump, Castro did not have a hook in terms of policy. A strong debate performance and a verbal scuffle with Trump temporarily elevated his profile. But other than that, there was nothing about his candidacy that sustained interest. 

Of course, starting out with recognition is not the' be all end all' -- candidates must continue emphasizing what distinguishes them and continue connecting with voters. Kamala Harris failed to do so and look what happened to her. 

But for lesser-known contenders, it is vital to immediately establish a “hook.” Or else, they won’t catch any fish. 

 

Shivani Tripathi

Posted on January 3, 2020 08:08

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