Aardvarking is recruiting candidates for public office with the main objective of having their names begin with the letter A.
The practice of aardvarking is rooted in the idea that people have a natural tendency to favor options that appear first on a list, known as the “primacy effect” in psychology.
This cognitive bias leads individuals to give more weight to the first items they encounter, whether in reading material, lists, or choices.
In politics, aardvarking capitalizes on this psychological phenomenon by placing candidates with “A”-starting names at the top of lists, increasing the likelihood that they will be noticed, remembered, and ultimately chosen by voters or decision-makers.
Origin of “Aardvarking”
In the late 1970’s a Republican consultant and I examined a series of races on Long Island when two candidates who were complete unknowns and who had no campaign resources to raise their profile.
In 90% of the races the candidate who’s name began with A won.
We called this phenomena ‘Aardvarking’ and urged GOP leaders to recruit candidates for lower office who’s names started with the first letter of the alphabet.
Why does Adam Alberts beat Ricky Jones 90% of the time? Who knows.
While aardvarking may provide an initial advantage in terms of visibility and recognition, it is by no means a guarantee of success in the political arena.
Candidates must still possess the necessary qualifications, experience, and public appeal to win the support of voters or decision-makers.
Additionally, they must be able to articulate their positions on key issues, develop effective campaign strategies, and build a strong network of supporters and allies.
Use of “Aardvarking” in a sentence
- To gain a competitive edge in the upcoming election, the party decided to employ aardvarking, focusing on recruiting candidates with names starting with the letter “A” to increase their visibility on the ballot.
- Critics argue that aardvarking is a superficial tactic that distracts voters from more important aspects of a candidate’s qualifications, potentially leading to less informed decisions in the voting booth.
- Aware of the potential advantages of aardvarking, some jurisdictions have implemented measures such as rotating the order of names on ballots to mitigate the influence of alphabetical order in the political process.
Taegan Goddard is the creator of the Political Dictionary.
Goddard spent more than a decade on Wall Street as managing director and chief operating officer of a prominent investment firm in New York City. Previously, he also served as a policy adviser to a U.S. Senator and Governor.
Goddard is also co-author of You Won – Now What?: How Americans Can Make Democracy Work from City Hall to the White House, a political management book hailed by prominent journalists and politicians from both parties.
His essays on politics and public policy have appeared in dozens of newspapers and magazines across the country.
Goddard earned degrees from Vassar College and Harvard University.
He lives in New York with his wife and three sons.