If you follow this blog, you know that I rarely comment on specific politics. Today however, there is a special opportunity to share important lessons from the Presidential race — ones I don’t want any Giant Slayer to miss. (In fact, PLEASE MAKE A SPECIAL POINT to pass this post along to your friends who have an ear.)
We must learn something from this and grow. There is a tide change in the United States, that left unchecked, will continue. How about 8 more years, or 12?
Here are 4 sobering, but helpful realities about Romney’s losing effort. (You can also apply these lessons to help you reach other goals you have.)
1. Inferior Overall Strategy – Romney’s strategy architects, Romney himself, chose a group of tactics that did not lead to victory. This may seem obvious, but it’s not. The fact is, Romney’s campaign had massive amounts of resources (some of the largest in history): money, talent and time. His campaign chose to allocate them according to a master strategy which ultimately came up short.
They can blame biased media (which certainly played a major role), Obama’s fundraising machine, a +/- 10% gender gap, inability to attract Hispanic voters, younger generation tending democratic, and on and on… But those weak points had to be factored in to form the chosen course of action to begin with. They were factored incorrectly; they were countered ineffectively.
Takeaway: Your Strategy Is Crucial to Success; Be Careful Who You Enlist to Help With Yours, and What You Decide to Do
2. Lack of Emotional Persuasion & Flair - Romney’s delivery of his campaign message did not resonate deeply or widely enough to shift the tide among voters. Americans knew he was a successful business man with a turnaround track-record. Average voters probably knew he had accomplished some things in Massachusetts, and had a vision for a prosperous America. At a time when the country is still faltering economically, it would seem his pedigree was just what the doctor ordered. If so, why didn’t America pick up the prescription?
Mitt Romney was a good speaker and able debater, but lacked the ability to communicate his messages in ways which elicited emotion; at least not far enough beyond the already charged Republican voter base. The choice of words, the sound bytes, were not memorable enough, or delivered deeply enough to evoke strong emotional attachment across a large enough group. That kind of talent, as it was with JFK, can turn the tables even in the face of an otherwise overwhelming opponent. The advertising was potent, but not truly game-changing. Honestly, it mostly lacked flair, with a few exceptions, even though it was “solid”. Romney was out-maneuvered in styling his core message. (Conservative Creatives please take note!)
Takeaway: Crafting Effective Talking Points & Delivering Them with Exceptional Passion is a Game-Changer
3. (Shifting the Tide Ain’t Easy); Lack of Killer Instinct – When you are in a fight, you can’t act as if you are above it. You’ve got to roll up your sleeves and pull out all the stops. Romney ran a solid campaign, but lacked killer instinct. For example, in the third presidential debate, his camp elected to not press the issue of the Benghazi incident where four Americans, including an Ambassador, lost their lives. He avoided the issue as though he were above it. If he’d mentioned it, the mainstream media would have been forced to discuss it. It was a weak point to pounce on. There were many other damaging attacks on Romney he failed to adequately respond to, as if he didn’t feel the need. In today’s politics that simply doesn’t work.
As well, no incumbent president in history has ever been re-elected with an unemployment rate as high as it is today. Romney made effective points about the economy, and repeated a few chants about putting more Americans back to work and getting incomes up, but he did not ruthlessly drag his opponent all the way down. Just part way. And it wasn’t far enough. It sounds terrible, but when you are in a fight with the goal of winning, you have to recognize you opponent’s weak points and stay energized about exploiting them. Romney had a shot in this one, and botched it.
Takeaway: You Have Got To Be Tenacious to Dethrone a Champ
4. Lackluster Finish – Even mainstream media tipped their hats to Romney’s initial debate performance. They also cited how he’d closed the gap in the polls from a double-digit “no-contest” to a respectable race. Why couldn’t he continue momentum?
Can’t you almost picture running a marathon where you had been behind the entire way. Then you get the leader in your sights and feel a surge. You draw almost even and jog alongside. It feels so good to be right there. You close your eyes for a minute and breathe in the air to appreciate the journey to that point. You open them, only to realize the other guy is already sprinting to the finish while you are letting up.
Exit polls suggested that among those who decided who to vote for in the last few days, Obama had a clear advantage.
Takeaway: Finish Well, No Matter What You Do
If you are a conservative wondering what happened or disillusioned – you could get discouraged. You could start blaming people or getting apathetic. Or, you could continue to stand for what you believe and find increasingly creative means to accomplish what God has put in your heart. You could learn from this colossal failure. You could be more tenacious and strategic than ever before.
Footnote (5. Electorate Demographic): After initially posting this article, I also began to look into the nature of the electorate (people entitled to vote) in the US. I believe it’s safe to say that the majority has shifted to more liberal in thinking and will therefore default to democrat. The multi-ethnic and younger vote clearly tends liberal, for example. That might not be earth-shattering until you think about it like this: it essentially means that you can be a pretty average democrat and still likely elected. However, as a Conservative you must be truly exceptional. This stacked deck is also one of the reasons Romney failed.