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Future Hindsight is a weekly podcastthat takes big ideas in civic life and democracy and turns them into action items for everyday citizens.

Feb 10, 2022

Anat Shenker-Osorio is a renowned communications researcher and campaign advisor, the host of Words to Win By, and the Principal of ASO Communications. We discuss how to empower voters, the impact of repetition, and the importance of being clear on what you stand for.

Social Proof Is Real

The most telling sign that a message is reaching the masses effectively is if the public acts on it. For example, the last national election cycles in 2018 and 2020 saw a large increase in voter turnout. It is not productive to narrate the problems with voter turnout. Instead, we should encourage non-voters to grasp the potential their vote holds. The proof of that effective messaging is in the social movements that follow.


Vote Is a Verb

Voting behavior is one of the most studied aspects of political communications. Because of this, we know that voting behavior is best understood as a matter of habituation. Seeing voting as an action that we need to take rather than a belief that we need to hold will create a more effective approach to spurring voter turnout. In order to make voting a habit for more people, we have to talk about it consistently.


Say what you’re for: the Question of Negative Messaging

All candidates should repeatedly state what they stand for because repetition is an essential ingredient in making sure a message is heard. Negative messaging can often be counterproductive because when you’re negating the other side, you are actually reinforcing their argument. What’s more, by focusing on the opposition and not clearly stating your own position, you risk leaving your message unheard. It’s impossible to have a message resonate if no one hears it.



Anat Shenker-Osorio is the host of the Words to Win By podcast and Principal of ASO Communications. Anat examines why certain messages falter where others deliver. She has led research for new messaging on issues ranging from freedom to join together in union to clean energy and from immigrant rights to reforming criminal justice. Anat's original approach through priming experiments, task-based testing, and online dial surveys has led to progressive electoral and policy victories across the globe.

Anat delivers her findings at venues such as the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Centre for Australian Progress, Irish Migrant Centre, Open Society Foundations, Ford Foundation, and LUSH International. Her writing and research is profiled in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Boston Globe, Salon, The Guardian, and Grist among others. She is the  author of Don't Buy It: The Trouble with Talking Nonsense About the Economy.

You can follow Anat on Twitter @anatosaurus