Tag Archive: GOTV


With all due respect to the memory of LBJ and his colorful comment about FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover, American politics has been turned on its head.

Way back in the 20th Century, the conventional wisdom was to take the time to provide quality TLC to your electoral base, reach out to independents, and be extremely anal about your political enemies.

The rationale: Your friends can change, but your enemies will always be there for you.

Some contend the ageless adage: “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” … is attributable to Chinese militarist Sun Tzu or maybe Italian philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli or even Al Pacino in Godfather II.

We may never know for sure.

The Economist’s Lexington this week examined the prospects of the “Never Trump” movement within the Republican Party to possibly mount a primary challenge against Donald Trump when the 2020 presidential cycle immediately commences after the November midterms.

Considering that Trump’s approval rating is 90 percent among Republicans (i.e., two Supreme Court picks, tax reform, regulatory relief, strong economy, no wars), the chances of beating him right now in the GOP primary appear to be slim and none with Slim being out-of-town.

Ready for more GOP primary punishment, Ohio Governor John Kasich? Been there, done that?

Almost DailyBrett also is mindful of the time period between now and 2020 is a political lifetime.

What Do Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama All Have in Common?

Even though the philosophical gap among these former presidents is wide, they all enjoyed not having primary opposition when they successfully ran for their respective second terms in 1996, 2004 and 2012 respectively. They also focused their GOTV (Get Out The Vote) efforts on enticing millions of their close friends to vote on election day.

The aforementioned Lyndon Johnson (1968, Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy) along with Jimmy Carter (1980, Ted Kennedy) and George H.W. Bush (Pat Buchanan) all faced credible primary opponents. They all failed re-election, big time.

Trump’s enemies are not going anywhere. They will intensify their rhetoric, ferocity and protests (if that is even possible) between now and November 2020.

The question remains: What will Trump’s friends do in two-years-time?

Donald Trump – whether you adore him or detest him (there is literally no middle ground) – he knows how to play the “us” vs. “them” game better than ever before.

The editorials and op-eds in the New York Times and the Washington Post and the commentary from the talking heads on CNN and MSNBC are consumed by people who didn’t vote for Trump before, and will never vote for him in two years or ever.

As former coach Dennis Green once said: “They are who we thought they were.”

Barring the political fantasy of the 12th Amendment (e.g. Electoral College) being overturned, Trump needs to focus on keeping the red states, red or … keeping his friends, his friends.

One of the ways, he is doing exactly that is by fulfilling promises (e.g., steel and aluminum tariffs for Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania).

Another is the almost by the minute denigration emanating from the political class, questioning the cerebral capabilities of those in the fly-over states that provided Trump with his Electoral College majority.

When all is said (there will be a ton of pontificating and bloviating between now and the next 27 months), the number that still matters is 270 electoral votes to win the presidency.

Trump delivered a relatively comfortable 2016 winning margin of 36 electoral votes above the 270 threshold. And if he holds his 30 states. Game, set and match.

The eventual Democratic nominee must peel away at least two red states. A good place to start would be Florida and its 29 electoral votes.

For Trump, it’s in his best political interest to keep close his friends in Florida.

Maybe even invite them over for some fun in the sun at Mar-a-Lago.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfHJDLoGInM

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/389068855293185830/?lp=true

https://www.economist.com/united-states/2018/08/11/never-trump-republicans-could-have-their-revenge

http://www.startribune.com/he-was-who-we-thought-he-was-the-best-dennis-green-quotes/387948942/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/07/19/electoral-college-blues/

 

 

 

Breakfast and Bay Area newspapers were served at a coffee shop, located directly across the street from the Cow Hollow motel at Steiner and Lombard.

Even though Friday, September 24, 1982 pre-dated mobile devices, there were no Thursday afternoon/evening phone calls from our campaign headquarters or even more germane, our political consulting firm in Los Angeles.

Copies of the San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Tribune and most of all, the San Francisco Examiner were passed around over pancakes, syrup and black coffee. Next up was a morning editorial board meeting with the latter newspaper.

My boss was then-Attorney General/later-California Governor George Deukmejian.

After greeting editorial board members/reporters of the San Francisco Examiner, George Deukmejian was asked, if he saw the Los Angeles Times that morning.

Your Almost DailyBrett author, who was serving as the press director for the Deukmejian Campaign Committee, instantly experienced a pang of dread.

As the editorial board waited, George Deukmejian read the Los Angeles Times story. One thing was always certain: The Duke did not like surprises.

The Los Angeles Times story written by veteran political reporter Richard Bergholz reported on outrageous comments made by our gubernatorial campaign manager Bill Roberts.

Roberts predicted to Bergholz that our final election day results would be 5 percent better than what was being forecasted in the public opinion polls.

Roberts concluded that 5 percent of respondents would not admit their inner prejudice/bias to a pollster, and simply would not vote for our rival, a black candidate on election day.

The African-American candidate in question was our opponent, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley. As a result of the coverage by the Los Angeles Times of Roberts’ on-the-record comments, the much-discussed/debated for nearly four decades, “Bradley Effect,” was born.

And George Deukmejian was blindsided.

.Photo by Steve McCrank / Staff Photographer

Why didn’t Roberts call the attorney general on Thursday? Most likely, he knew the result of his free lancing. For some reason, he believed it was better for George Deukmejian not to know and to find out later (in the presence of editors/reporters).

The question that still comes back to me:  Why did Bill Roberts make this assertion? There is absolutely no way that George Deukmejian would agree with this conclusion, let alone authorize Roberts to say it on-the-record, on-background or off the record. We were running an effective, well-organized campaign.

In the presence of the San Francisco Examiner editors/reporters and throughout the next few days, George Deukmejian rejected the premise of “The Bradley Effect” about the under-the-surface 5 percent racial bias.

Leaving the Examiner offices, my boss turned to me and said: “Bill Roberts is now an issue in this campaign.” Roberts and his political consulting firm were fired that day.

The immediate reaction from the pundits/media elite was our campaign was dead. Obviously, this projection was not the first time the political class has been wrong, forecasting an election.

George Deukmejian was elected governor six weeks later 49-48 percent, a margin of 93,345 votes.

Bradley Effect/Reverse Bradley Effect

Typing “Bradley Effect” into the Google search engine results in 88.9 million impressions in 0.32 of a second. The “Bradley Effect” is eternal.

The term also raises the blood temperature of the author of Almost DailyBrett in less than two nanoseconds, even though the Bradley Effect Blindside occurred 36 years ago.

There have been recent applications of the Bradley Effect, questioning whether there would be an under vote against Barack Obama in 2008 because of his skin hue. He was twice elected the 44th President of the United States.

And just two years ago, the elite political class introduced the “Reverse Bradley Effect” to characterize voters who refuse out of embarrassment to admit to pollsters they were voting for Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States.

As your author writes this Almost DailyBrett epistle, I am mindful and grateful that Bill Roberts and others in his consulting firm supported hiring me as a very green press director back in early 1982. Roberts passed away in 1988.

Having acknowledged my gratitude, your author knows that our 1982 victory and landslide re-election (61-37 percent) four years later against the same Tom Bradley are tarnished in some eyes because of the so-called “Bradley Effect.”

Yours truly to this date is proud of the campaign we ran in 1982, and better yet how we governed California for eight years (1983-1991).

Two Million Absentee Ballots

The large absentee vote in the 1982 general election (6.4 percent of the total) came about primarily as a result of an effective organized campaign to get Republicans to vote by mail.” – Mervin D. Field, director of the California Poll

Based solely on the voters who went to the polls on November 2, 1982, Tom Bradley beat George Deukmejian by nearly 20,000 votes.

Having said that, the Deukmejian Campaign Committee without fanfare distributed 2 million absentee ballots to Republican voters. George Deukmejian won the absentees 59.6 percent to 37.4 percent, a margin of nearly 113,000 votes.

Game. Set. Match.

The distribution of absentee votes to high propensity, philosophically aligned voters was novel in 1982, and now its di rigueur in today’s campaign GOTV (Get Out The Vote) efforts.

Reportedly an overconfident Tom Bradley stopped campaigning the weekend before the election, comfortable with his upcoming victory. For example, the projected 20 percent electoral participation by minorities turned out to be only 15 percent.

Would another four days of campaigning by Tom Bradley have made a difference in the closest gubernatorial election in California’s political history? One could think so.

Time to Let It Go?

Some would suggest to Almost DailyBrett that it’s past time after nearly four decades to let go of the “Bradley Effect.”

Tranquillo.

Keep in mind, the “Bradley Effect” keeps coming back even when a Caucasian hombre (e.g., Trump) was running against a Caucasian mujer (e.g., Hillary) in 2016.

The worst impact in my mind as the former press director for the Deukmejian Campaign Committee is the implication that we were racist.

We also did not receive the credit deserved for running an effective, winning campaign with an outstanding candidate/future governor: George Deukmejian.

It’s a shame the “Bradley Effect” seemingly resurfaces every four years.

The reports of the death of the Bradley Effect have been greatly exaggerated.

https://abcnews.go.com/images/PollingUnit/FieldPoll1982analysis.pdf

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/persistent-myth-of-bradley-effect/

http://articles.latimes.com/1988-07-01/news/mn-6379_1_bill-roberts

http://articles.latimes.com/2000/dec/28/local/me-5509

https://www.thedailybeast.com/pancakes-and-pickaninnies-the-saga-of-sambos-the-racist-restaurant-chain-america-once-loved

“If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” – attributed to Harry S. Truman

“Politics is a contact sport.” – GOP campaign consultant, Marry Matalinclintonbuddy

Almost DailyBrett cannot accurately forecast, who will become the 45th president of the United States. Can you?

Wasn’t the general election contest supposed to quickly boil down to Hillary and Jeb, representing two of America’s political royal families?

In some respects, it is easier to foretell who will not be president (i.e., Martin O’Malley, John Kasich, Ben Carson, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum … ).

What is more certain in this volatile Silly Season is the undeniable fact the Serious Season will be upon us in about three weeks. The presents will soon be unwrapped, turkey and stuffing will be consumed, and bowl games will be played. It will then be time for serious presidential politics.

The days of subjective media/pundit scoring (e.g., colluding media tweeting each other to determine the conventional wisdom of who is winning and who is losing) will be replaced by actual electoral results from caucuses and primaries. Figure skating and boxing are both plagued by judges. Football, hockey and other sports have actual scoreboards. It will soon be time for voter verdicts, particularly how candidates fare compared with “expectations.”

Quantitative research samples are taken far more seriously in the Serious Season, particularly trends as they edge closer to-and-after actual caucuses and primaries. Debates mean more, much more … and a particularly ill-time gaffe (there is never a good time for foot-in-mouth disease) could be electorally fatal. GOTV(Get Out The Vote) means more than ever as – Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina – are organization-intensive retail states than mass media in nature.

What does this all mean? The beginning of the Serious Season translates into meeting workers at factory gates, kibitzing at bowling allies, visiting lunch counters, attending PTA meetings, conducting town halls, when its frigid, icy and snowy outside (e.g., Iowa and New Hampshire).townhall

The caucus-goers (Iowa and Nevada) and primary voters (New Hampshire and South Carolina) are notoriously fickle, unpredictable and independent. How will they respond to Donald Trump and his billions and Hillary Clinton and her “inevitability”?

Here’s a hint: They are more inclined to root for David rather than Goliath.

Mother’s Milk Runs Dry?

“Money is the Mother’s Milk of Politics” – former California Speaker Jesse Unruh

The author of Almost DailyBrett remembers serving as a California gubernatorial campaign press director way back in the legacy media Stone Age of 1982. The goal was to win the news cycle, simply defined as one news cycle per day.

Today, the news cycle can be 24-in-one-day or literally one per hour in this legacy/digital native media age. What that means is that you have to win the majority of news cycles, develop a sense of momentum on an hourly basis and repeatedly demonstrate your “Big Mo.”

Way back in the previous century, you could gather momentum and ride it to the governor’s office as we did in the last three weeks of both the primary and general elections 43 years ago. Today, a campaign public relations team can be pushed from offense to defense or vice-versa in the same one-hour news cycle. Instead of getting a dog when the going get’s tough, political PR pros should think in terms of acquiring alligators.

The media has transformed itself from mostly left-of-center big three networks, major pubs (e.g., New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal) and two wire services into a smorgasbord of legacy media, cable networks (e.g., MSNBC on the left, Fox News on the right) and an expanding array of news aggregators (e.g., Real Clear Politics, POLITICO, Daily Kos, Red State, Huffington Post). Interspersing themselves into the mix are the independent committees that will flood the airwaves and cyberspace with ads, some with dubious claims of accuracy.

It was once said that Great Britain maintained an empire in which the sun never set. For today’s political media pros, they never sleep. And if your candidate does not meet expectations in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, the mother’s milk of politics will stop lactating.

How can a campaign finance integrated marketing communication programs (e.g., earned, paid and owned media) for eight caucuses and primaries at the end of February/March, if you can’t win in the beginning of February? Americans love winners and they want to jump onto band wagons. Using another metaphor, if a ship starts to sink (e.g., Jeb Bush’s campaign to date), high propensity voters and donors will quickly look for alternatives.

Who wants to throw good money after bad money? No one. If a candidate can’t win in Iowa and/or New Hampshire, can that same candidate win in Nevada and/or South Carolina, let alone the myriad of states that follow in quick succession?

After losing Iowa in 2004, former Governor Howard Dean delivered the infamous, “I have a scream” speech:howarddean

Not only are we going to New Hampshire, (Senator) Tom Harkin we’re going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico, and we’re going to California and Texas and New York…. And we’re going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan, and then we’re going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House! Yeah!”

Let’s give Governor Dean credit. He did go on to capture his home state of Vermont. Nonetheless, Jesse Unruh’s Law about the Mother’s Milk of Politics rang true. The lesson of the Serious Season is to skillfully manage expectations, win early and win often, otherwise someone else … maybe someone we don’t expect … will win the two respective party nominations.

Ready the ground (GOTV) and air wars (campaign ads). Light up the digital scoreboards. The Serious Season will soon be with us.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6i-gYRAwM0

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/07/12/the-silly-season/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republican_Party_presidential_primaries,_2016

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/2016-election/debates/schedule/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-face-of-criticism-trump-surges-to-his-biggest-lead-over-the-gop-field/2015/12/14/b9555e30-a29c-11e5-9c4e-be37f66848bb_story.html

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-rise-and-fall-of-howard-dean-18-02-2004/

 

 

 

 

 

“Act of Love”

“Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love.” – Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush on illegal immigrants

“Hispanics are Republicans they just don’t know it” – Ronald Reagan 

“Keep your friends close but your enemies closer,” – Chinese General Sun Tzu, author of “The Art of War.”

illlegal

The time-tested notion of running to the poles in party primaries and then shifting to the center in the general election has been widely attributed to Richard Nixon.

And for the most part, this strategy has been de rigueur in American politics for decades. The truly committed – hard left or hard right — are the most likely to passionately participate in retail party caucuses, straw polls and town-hall style meetings during primary seasons. They can make or break a candidacy. These passionate partisans are naturally feared for their high propensity.

And when one survives the primary/caucus gauntlet and becomes the standard-bearer of one of America’s two major political parties, then the task is to pacify the hard-line base and win over the independents.

That strategy worked for decades, but will it continue to be as effective as the Democratic Party moves further to the left and the Republican Party moves further to the right?

The answer very well could be “no.”

The reason lies with the segmentation of American society. Almost DailyBrett wrote about how political pros are becoming adept at using digital technology in building coalitions of sympathetic voters, isolating those who are opposed, and employing GOTV (Get Out the Vote) methods to drive coalition members to the polls.

axelrod

David Alexrod and the Obama team were particularly adept with strategies to push America’s growing Hispanic population into the president’s column. Obama won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote; Mitt Romney, just 27 percent. Game, set and match to Obama.

The result was all-together different just eight years earlier as President George W. Bush received 41 percent of the Hispanic vote in defeating his challenger, John Kerry. George W. Bush was the governor of Texas for two terms before being elected president and speaks Spanish. Likewise, Jeb Bush was the governor of Florida for two terms, speaks Spanish, and has been married for 40 years to his Mexico-born wife, Columba.

Plan on seeing, Columba, on the campaign trail and repeated references to four-decades of marital bliss and of course, La Familia.

jebcolumba1

Some are contending as evidenced by recent headlines that Jeb is being placed on the “defensive” by his “Act of Love” comments about illegal immigrants. He has drawn measured (for now) responses from rivals, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and commentator Bill O’Reilly. Maybe his carefully chosen comments should be seen in a different light, as a way to highlight his credentials to the pivotal Hispanic voting block that demonstrated by recent evidence is not signed-sealed-and-delivered to the Democratic Party.

Jeb Bush is a bright guy. He knew his “Act of Love” remarks would not play well with the “wingers” in the Republican Party. Heck, he may even lose the Iowa Caucuses as a result of this particular remark…and others that are bound to follow. The loss, if it comes to pass, maybe will be his gain. He cannot win the presidency without at least 40 percent of the Hispanic electorate supporting his candidacy as they did for his brother’s re-election. The Hispanic vote is in play.

Jeb Bush also knows the last three nominees of the Republican Party were not the darlings of the hard right, his brother, John McCain and Mitt Romney. One can win the GOP nomination and the open-seat election in 2016 by demonstrating “electability,” and that requires a sincere commitment to compassion, not exclusion.

There will be some, who will grit their teeth and accuse Jeb of promoting, “amnesty.” These are Jeb’s enemies and he never really had a chance of winning their support in any event. What would be worse is to be seen as appeasing or pandering to the party’s insensitive wing?

Jeb’s deliberate use of the phrase, “Act of Love” in many ways conjures images of Reagan’s sunny, optimistic “Morning in America” theme.

morninginamerica

The mantra is that America is an exceptional nation, one that draws immigrants, one that fosters entrepreneurs and innovation, and if you have a dream and are willing to work hard to make the seemingly impossible, possible, then anything and everything conceivably is achievable.

The notion of the “Act of Love” puts the undocumented alien into a different light instead of a wanted felon; one who is looking to America for a better life for she, he and La Familia.

The first signs of this strategy was how Jeb characterized his decision-making process to run or not run – regardless of the stated objections of his madre: “The decision will be based on, can I do it joyfully, because I think we need to have candidates lift our spirits.”

Jeb is wagering that America needs a dose of optimism, a smile instead of a frown, good-spirited rhetoric instead of mean-spirited name calling. Politics will remain a “contact sport” as referenced by Mary Matalin. The Bush brothers know this. The Clintons know this as well.

Let the contest ensue with the Hispanic vote clearly in play.

 

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/04/jeb-bush-defends-act-of-love-immigration-105612.html

http://www.politico.com/multimedia/video/2014/04/marco-rubio-responds-to-jeb-bushs-act-of-love-comment.html

http://www.politico.com/multimedia/video/2014/04/bill-oreilly-jeb-bush-is-using-my-line-on-immigration.html

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2014/04/11/rand_paul_bush_immigration_remarks_well-intentioned_122257.html

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/jeb-bush-remarks-expose-gops-immigration-problem-23278238

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Sun_Tzu

http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/09/politics/latino-vote-key-election/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A26119-2004Dec25.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/segmented-society/

http://www.city-data.com/forum/illegal-immigration/1124060-president-reagan-hispanics-republicans-they-just.html#ixzz2ycXLwocm

 

 

“In Alabama, you can’t be for both. You have to choose. It’s either Alabama or Auburn. And once you choose, you are branded for life.” – Unknown Auburn fan

“Personnel? That’s for assholes!” – Clint Eastwood as Inspector Harry Callahan

“I was in Personnel for 10 years.” – Bradford Dillman as Captain Jerome McKay

(Long pause)

“Yeah.” – Harry Callahan

eastwoodRecently, a fellow public relations graduate school classmate was excited about her prospects of landing a position with Intel Corporation.

The only problem was the job was in Human Resources (with all due respect to those in HR).

I couldn’t help but immediately think about Dirty Harry’s reaction about being reassigned to “Personnel” in the 1976 feature film, “The Enforcer.” This point is amplified by his one-syllable response to Captain McKay informing him about his 10-year tenure in what we now label: Human Resources or HR.

My serious concern for my academic colleague had absolutely nothing to do with the largest semiconductor company in the world, Intel, but the position itself. Instinctively, I took into account that jobs are precious in this lethargic economy, even at a time in which we are celebrating the nation’s unemployment rate “declining” to 7.7 this past November as more-and-more job seekers give up the hunt.

In particular, I urged caution to her about inadvertently heading down the path to pigeonholing. She could record 10 years in human resources and suddenly come to the realization that she is permanently dropped into the lethal “HR” bucket. If she subsequently wanted to shift her career back to public relations, marketing, advertising etc. — what she actually studied as an undergraduate and in grad school — she may find the doors closed for her because she is now permanently branded as a “HR” professional, similar to “The Evil Director of Human Resources, ‘Catbert,’” in the Dilbert cartoons.

catbert

Another example is one of my students, who was saddened that he lost out for a retail management trainee job for Macy’s. This may have been a blessing in disguise unless he really wanted to spend his life in retail, which very well could have been the result if he was “successful” in attaining this particular job.

The point of this epistle is that we live in an increasingly demographic world and there is no going back. Think about how everyone is worshipping at the altar of Barack Obama political guru David Axelrod because his team correctly projected that 72 percent of the electorate would be composed of white voters…a number too low to elect Mitt Romney.

The exercise was to identify single women, African Americans, Hispanics and young voters and target the GOTV campaign (Get Out The Vote) to these demographic groups in their respective buckets. Some of this segmentation is obvious: Males and females; married or single: young or old. And someone is always dividing and subdividing each subgroup into tiny slivers to determine buying and behavior patterns for political or monetary gain.

From the Census to Facebook, we are compulsively segmenting people whether we like it or not (e.g., privacy advocates). From the Spartans to the Athenians, the Hatfields to the McCoys, the North and the South, Red States and Blue States, Israelis and Palestinians, we have a long history of putting people into groups. In Alabama, it is the red and white of the Crimson Tide or the blue, orange and white of the Auburn Tigers. There is no straddling the fence in ‘Bama.

To many Sean Connery will always be James Bond. Simon Cowell will be the absolutely brutal talent judge on American Idol. Simon Bond will always be the guy who wrote, 101 Uses for a Dead Cat. Reportedly, his subsequent books on any other subject were not accepted…he was always the “Dead Cat Guy.”

So does someone specifically trained in the verbal, written, digital media and communications choreography skills of public relations want to wake up one day and ask: ‘How did I become saddled in Human Resources?’ I am fearful that the lousy economy of today may result in some very painful and for the most part irreversible results a decade or more from now.

Should a graduate turn down a “position” in this crummy economy to avoid the dreaded pigeonhole? Or should that same graduate take a “job” to keep food on the table and gas in the tank, while continuing to search for the position that fits her or his career? This is a difficult predicament. And in many ways, it is an easy answer.

Choosing between Auburn and Alabama is tougher.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pigeonholing

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGCMyF-sA58

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/101_Uses_for_a_Dead_Cat

http://search.dilbert.com/comic/Evil%20Catbert

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/08/business/economy/us-creates-146000-new-jobs-as-unemployment-rate-falls-to-7-7.html?_r=0

Mumsy always proclaimed: “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.”

As a parent and based upon my own childhood experiences, I know that youngsters with strong points of view often draw negative responses not so much for what they are espousing, but for the obnoxious manner in which they are offering their opinions. The same even applies for those humbly or not-so-humbly applying to become the leader of the free world.

Does this suggest that philosophy doesn’t matter? Is command of details and facts still necessary for leadership? Does this mean that gaffes are irrelevant? The answers are, no, yes and no.

Obama And Romney Square Off In First Presidential Debate In Denver

Philosophical consistency directly applies to satisfying one’s political base and more importantly for enthusiastic GOTV (Get Out the Vote) campaigns. This electoral season is a GOTV year on steroids with very few truly undecided at this late date.

Having command of one’s facts and understanding wonkish details equate to essential gravitas. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin failed this test four years ago, and most likely will never be taken seriously as a legitimate presidential contender.

Staying away from a major blooper, not just a mere malapropos (e.g., “You didn’t build this,” and “Binders full of women”), can be political curtains even for an incumbent president.

Gerald Ford’s nationally televised brain fart in his 1976 debate against Jimmy Carter was most likely fatal to his chances: “There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, and there never will be under a Ford administration.” And given a chance to recant, he doubled down on his stunner: “I don’t believe that the Poles consider themselves dominated by the Soviet Union.”

Absent not satisfying partisans demanding philosophical fidelity, candidates failing to demonstrate gravitas or uttering embarrassing gaffes, the commanding factor for winning in the courtroom of public opinion comes down to look and feel. How do you present your case, and is the public comfortable with the prospect of watching you night-after-night on television for the next four years?

Consider those who failed when it comes to style points during the past few decades. Are you dispassionate (e.g., Obama in debate #1); do you utter exacerbated sighs (e.g., Gore in 2000) do you mockingly laugh at your opponent (e.g., Biden in this year’s VP debate) or do you have Lazy Shave dripping off your face (e.g., Nixon in 1960).  Sighs matter.

Writing how the debates really matter this year, former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan wrote: “…In the days afterward … Mr. Biden seemed to slip, because the national conversation didn’t move off his antics—the chuckles, the grimaces, the theatrical strangeness of it all. A draw, or a victory, began to seem like a loss.”

Conversely, a presidential John F. Kennedy displayed youthful vigor, a plan for the future in his critical debate against a more experienced Richard Nixon. Presence and poise mattered. Twenty years later, there were legitimate concerns about Ronald Reagan’s intelligence and whether he could be trusted with his finger on the nuclear trigger. In his one-and-only debate against President Jimmy Carter (“There you go again…”) he answered these doubts and issued an indictment against a weak incumbent, rhetorically asking whether the majority of the public was better off than it was four years earlier.

Heading into tomorrow’s night’s final debate on foreign policy, President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney are locked in a statistical (e.g., Real Clear Politics) tie. The partisans have fully bought into their champions. Barring an off-night, a line for the ages or a major gaffe, tomorrow’s nights debate really boils down to temperament and presentation. Yes, the outcome revolves around not so much to what is said, but how it is said.

And the split screen can mean as much, if not more, than the primary screen. The camera is everywhere and as Dan Rather once said, “The camera never blinks.” How does a candidate visibly react to less-than-pleasant (and often inaccurate) commentary about his positions, policies and programs? Is the candidate confident in the face of withering criticisms or arrogant, pouting, smirking and/or condescending?

Likeability matters.

The same applies to any job seeker in these difficult times. Can you accept criticism? Do you display confidence as opposed to cockiness? Are you bringing your “A” game? Are you fully prepared? Do you really want to be on the stage? Are you the consummate team player?

The last question pertains to “fit.” In an economy with 23 million unemployed, underemployed or simply giving up the hunt for a job, personal intangibles can be the difference between being hired or being the first runner-up (first loser). It can be the decider between promotion or demotion. Or it can be the difference between being employed or let go.

And how you deport yourself, particularly in an advocacy role? It’s okay to be offensive, just as long as you are not “offensive.”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444734804578065023315500416.html

http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/28/opinion/brazile-debates-overrated/index.html

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2012/president/us/general_election_romney_vs_obama-1171.html

%d bloggers like this: