Buckeye Barnstorming: “I need you Ohio”

November 5, 2012

Two days before election Tuesday, President Obama headed for Ohio, for the umpteenth visit of the election campaign. The myth of the Buckeye State’s iconic bellwether status is preserved

In one rally at the University of Cincinnati he said twice what political commentators had been increasingly saying: “I need you, Ohio!”

The Buckeye State

Ohio, The Buckeye State, has iconic significance as having the most volative voting pattern. The political myth is born of a statistical fact, that how the State votes is a prediction of who will become the next President, be he Republican or Democrat.

Election fatigue

Frank Hagler, [November 2nd 2012] writing in Policymic captured the sense of election fatigue getting to the candidates, as much as it has got to the American electorate:

Election fatigue has set in and the general feeling is that most people can’t wait for this election to be over so that they can get on with the important work of moving this country forward

Wednesday, November 7 will be a day of joy, regardless of which party comes out victorious because it will mark an end to one of the most contentious, racially polarized and negative election seasons in recent memory.

He went on to list five reasons which leads him to tip an Obama victory. Most of them can be challenged [and probably will be by Obamaphobes]. But here they are as indicated:

1 Momentum has shifted back to Obama.

2 The October jobs report

Which showed that unemployment remained below 8% and job creation is growing.

3 Late-breaking endorsements

from influential republican and Former Bush Secretary of State Colin Powell, and the independent New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, within the last week.

4 Hurricane Sandy and the President’s response to it

5 The 24/7 news cycle accentuating the most recent good news stories for Obama.

Pulled in two directions

It’s all pulling commentators in two directions. Many with a political case to push look hard for evidence to add one last endorsement for their cause.

But there is still professional caution, so that the “too close to call” line is also being offered by a majority of those contributing to the 24/7 election news fever.

Will twitter change the course of history and swing the Presidential election?

October 24, 2012

Another too-close-to-call Presidential campaign. And a pivotal moment is being identified as the first Presidential debate, which seems to have caught out team Obama by the influence of a whirlwind of tweets on reshaping political opinion

ABC’s Michael Brissenden suggested it did.

In his post Twitter frenzies shake up traditional debate tactics, he suggests that “In politics Twitter might be proving to be a new and somewhat unpredictable complication”. I have summarized his analysis below:

Impact of the first televised debate

If Barack Obama does lose this election, the first TV debate of this campaign will take on a historical significance that will be studied by political science undergraduates for years to come and no doubt writ large in campaign strategists’ offices for decades.

The frenzy of online engagement is like performance algebra – a jumble of characters, symbols and short, sharp calculations that somehow end up reaching a conclusion, faster and more efficiently than the old-school campaign long division.

As a result 90 minutes of prime time TV became a political eternity. In cyber space no-one can hear you scream but they can sure tell if you’re off your game. They used to say you could tell who won a TV debate even with the sound turned off – but no-one can control the volume of instant messaging. And politicians all over the world are being caught flat-footed by it.

It was 90 minutes the Obama campaign could never get back. The dynamics shifted decisively and now we have a contest that some think could end up being one of the closest presidential races ever.

Two more weeks

Two more weeks of relentless politics, increasingly targeted on the handful of ‘swing states’ whose uncommitted voters are believed to hold the key to the election. Two more weeks of attack ads. Do they influence anybody? And if not, why are funders spending billions of dollars on an expensive turnoff? The pollsters have been predicting a close race for some while.

To be continued

As Olympics starts, Mitt’s blitz irks Brits

July 27, 2012

Mitt Romney arrived in Europe at the start of the 2012 Olympics to visit leading politicians. It was part of his Presidential campaign designed to raise his profile as an internationally-significant figure. He may have passed through London unnoticed, if he had not made a mildly critical remark to a US journalist

London, Thursday July 26th. One topic has distanced everything else from the nation’s attention. The Olympic Games.

Mr Romney might have arrived and announced plans single-handedly to rescue the Euro and bring peace to the Middle East and been largely ignored. Instead he chose to mention a few concerns based on news he had learned of glitches in the administration of the Games. Mr Romney is quite keen to remind American voters of leadership skills he showed in rescuing the Winter Olympics in the US in Salt Lake City in 2002.

Keep your nose out, they are our glitches

The British media had enjoyed its own frenzy of anger towards various glitzes. The head of G4S, a services contractor, had been hauled before parliament to agree that his organisation’s performance had been a shambles. Tweets by athletes complaining about bus delays were also reported and discussed. On the day Mr Romney arrived, the Olympics committee was forced to apologise to North Korea for mixing up its flag in its football game with that of, [oops] South Korea.

Ironic sympathy

Mr Romney might have won favourable attention by offering a few remarks in the tone of ironic sympathy that Bill Clinton was famous for producing. But Mitt does not do ironic sympathy. “Keep your nose out”, yelled the press. “These are our glitches”.

Enter Boris to fan the [Olympic] flame

The day ended with a concert in Hyde Park where the assembled party-goers were treated to a wide-screen presentation. Boris Johnson, the charismatic mayor of London, added his wit to the story, hugely enjoying the opportunity.

“There’s this guy called Mitt Romney” he began, to roars from the crowd. “He wants to know if we are ready. Are we ready?. The crowd roars back.

A retraction

The late news bulletins presented the mayor’s remarks, followed by an uncomfortable Mr Romney making what sounded like a retraction to his original line. He now takes the politically-correct (but factually incorrect) position offered by the Prime Minister and just about everyone else, that this was a glitz-free Olympics – until Mitt blew into town.

Mitt Romney’s ‘Potholed’ Road Map

January 6, 2012

Mitt Romney appears to be the front-runner as Republican candidate for the next Presidential elections. His journey towards nomination has been described as ‘a potholed road-map’. Leaders We Deserve examines the metaphor

The metaphors of map-reading, map-testing, and map-making have been applied to leadership ‘journeys’. The metaphor also crops up in political writings as ‘road maps’ leading to peace.

The Fiscal Times applied the metaphor to the road to be travelled by Mitt Romney who appears increasingly likely to be the Republican candidate to oppose President Obama in the next Presidential campaign.

In the view of most political professionals, the race for the Republican presidential nomination is essentially over. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney … has a 20-point lead [Jan 5th 2012] over his nearest rival in recent polls [which suggests that] most Republicans will quickly coalesce around him as the inevitable nominee… Of course, that doesn’t mean that Romney’s road to the nomination is free of potholes.

On maps and journeys

It is more precise to say that the map is of territory through which a journey must pass. The map indicates the road to be travelled. The Fiscal Times believes the road will be one which will not be easy on to travel, hence the pothole reference. Students of leadership may have noticed how in in everyday speech we may mix up the map with the journey. (Kark Weick likes to say that ‘the map is not the territory’.

The Fiscal Times has written about the likely political journey for Mitt Romney and examined the map and the route to be taken. This is mostly Map reading. The article then attempted to understand the journey better (map testing).

A complication: maps within maps

This map-testing suggested that the road would be a potholed one. Note how the author of the article has to outline a personal map, and incorporate a ‘reading’ of Mitt Romney’s possible mapping processes. And you may also have noticed, that I am now reading and testing the article’s maps. Don’t get too hooked on these ‘maps within maps’ . They conform to a systems theory of recursiveness which means the ‘maps of maps’ replicate the structures found in the simpler ones. You can satisfy yourself on this point if it an unfamiliar concept, by doing more ‘map-testing’. You will find that the basic structure will stay the same, although some features will change from higher level to lower levels of recursion.

So back to Mitt Romney’s journey

The Fiscal Times tests the suggestion that the Romney road is full of potholes by pointing to the challenges from other candidates who have become front-runners from time to time. These are metaphorically the potholes or challenging aspects of the journey.

Potholes and dilemmas

It sometimes helps map-testing to look out for a leader’s dilemmas. Here the potholes are signals of implied dilemmas. The article tests the pothole theory by describing Romney’s support, which is sticking stubbornly at 25%. Romney needs some way of dealing with the dilemma of low support, while being hailed as the front-runner.

Divide and rule (and ‘map-making’).

The article addresses this dilemma by citing an earlier article suggesting a leadership strategy for Romney. The suggested strategy is to avoid attacking other candidates, leaving them to attack one another. It is a divide and rule strategy. It is also an example of map-making.

More about divide and rule strategies

By coincidence, a similar map briefly became headlines in the UK, where the divide and rule strategy also figured. It involved the politician Diane Abbott in accusations of racism after an exchange on Twitter. There may be some value in comparing the two maps and the bumpiness of the journeys ahead for those involved.