It’s crunch time for the Democratic frontrunners. If they want to take the nomination and win the general election, they need to change how they present themselves to the voters.
Biden has the personality to win the election, but he’s been suppressing the behaviors that got him where he is today. Instead of being the upbeat, charismatic, smiling Uncle Joe that we all came to know during his vice presidency, Biden has been somber. It’s as if he’s consoling the American public and warning us about what will come to pass if Trump is reelected. He needs to return to painting a shiny, optimistic vision of the future and dial up his energy.
There are four candidates who share a similar personality: Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, Mike Bloomberg, and Tom Steyer. They are all blunt, results-driven and share big-picture goals. They respond to Trump’s aggressiveness with unrelenting candor. If anything, they need to do more of that to show voters that they can battle Trump’s outsized personality.
Elizabeth Warren is different. Unlike the others, she offers highly detailed, specific plans. In fact, she proudly sells shirts that say, “Warren has a plan for that.” Unfortunately for her, plans and specifics don’t engage voters. If Warren is going to stay relevant, she needs to dial down the details and dial up her enthusiasm. It’s time to laugh heartily and tell more stories that connect with voters on a personal level.
Pete Buttigieg may be the most likable candidate, but likability doesn’t translate into electability. He is personable, analytical, precise, and sensitive. And while these traits may be desirable in a friend, they will get crushed by an aggressive, bottom-line Trump. If Buttigieg wants a shot against Trump, he needs to cut the measured words and show some aggression through his tone and body language. He needs to turn up his bluntness and challenge Trump with tough words and a demeanor that says, “Bring it.”
Personality wins elections. If the Democrats want to have a chance of beating Trump in November, they better tune into the behaviors that voters see—and judge.