Santorum: The Dark Horse Surges

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Romney and Gingrich shoot each other while Conservatives rally to Santorum

 

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The GOP race for the 2012 presidential election is still as volatile as it was when I last wrote about it. GOP leadership was hoping for an early end to primary uncertainty with a single front-runner. This would give skeptical Republicans a chance to warm up to the inevitable ‘last man standing.’

That hasn’t happened. Front-runners Romney and Gingrich each won a primary but mutual attacks exposed their many flaws to conservative voters. Paul kept a steady-state in voter percentage. Rick Santorum, the one person almost all conservatives like — or at least don’t dislike, surprised the pundits by sweeping three caucuses in a big way. Everyone likes an underdog-coming-from-behind story. It may be that GOP voters have made Santorum their ‘Not-Romney’ of choice.

I reworked my spreadsheets based on the latest candidate developments. Romney and Gingrich both fell in my ‘Worth‘ spreadsheet. I am no longer convinced either of them will do much to remake entitlement programs. Romney’s MBA skills make him more of a COO than a CEO. Operations men manage, they don’t reform. Gingrich is too tied to big government entities for my taste. (‘Historian?’ What is that?) Romney also fell because of his past support for abortion and homosexual marriage. I still remain surprised that Ron Paul is the most Worth-y to me, but I like the things he says, except for his isolationist opinions.

The big shift is in the Real-Win-Worth grid. Santorum has pulled ahead of his competitors in the Win axis. He now has the highest score for a consistent, motivational message. Santorum doesn’t sound like he’s reading from a script like Romney, and his strong wins in MO, MN and CO show he can inspire voters to action. Gingrich lost points for ‘presence and style.’ The media is pulling away from him. Romney also lost ‘presence and style’ ground with his comments about “the poor.”

On the Real axis, the candidates’ positions shifted: President Bush The First walked back his Romney endorsement; Gingrich lost his biggest financial backer; and Santorum got the blessing of some very important conservative media superstars.

Looking at all the candidates, the two closest to the true ‘electable’ zone (strong campaign plus voter connection) are Obama and Santorum. Obama risks  sliding the wrong direction in the ‘Win‘ direction if voters are turned off by his negative rhetoric. Obama remains financially strong, but it takes more than expensive advertisement to motivate unhappy voters.

It’s do or die these next few weeks for Santorum. He’s already the most appealing to the conservative base. That’s a plus. Still, his ‘ifs’ must quickly align: IF Romney goes on the negative attack, IF Gingrich descends further into vengeful neurosis, and IF Santorum scores a big win against Romney in Michigan, the former Pennsylvania senator may pull a surprise win.

 

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Which Candidate Would You Buy?

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Using Business Tools to Sort The Candidates

 

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Bubble size reflects candidate ‘worth’ based on my values

 

I’ve become a political hobbyist since I came to social media. I read the local newspaper, get RSS feeds, follow Twitter politicos and I watch news twice a day. I seek balance so I can stay informed. I am a conservative person: fiscally, socially and on international affairs.

As I write this in late December, 2011, there are seven candidates campaigning for the GOP caucus in Iowa. Barack Obama has already been campaigning for reelection since the start of the year. I’m overwhelmed. Each poll, each newsflash, each morning analysis throws me back to Point A. Who do I want to be U.S. president? Maybe I should use my business toolkit to sort things out.

Treating the presidential candidates as ‘products’ with votes as ‘market share,’ it becomes easier to sort things out. I used two tools: a modified Cause and Effect Matrix (C&E) to identify each candidate’s ‘worth’ to me, and a Real-Win-Worth.

Each C&E criterion was chosen by me and its relative importance to the other criteria are also mine. For example, I see the Economy as the top priority, ‘Family Values’ as further down, and ‘Immigration’ isn’t a priority at all. If you were to do this, you would have different criteria, weights and values. See mine, below.

 

Go here to see the data on Google Docs

 

The RWW is a little more objective. For Real, I subsitituted campaign strength (war chest, foot soldiers, experience). Win is market-based and emotion, so I used criteria based on the assumption that voters were customers. Here were the emotional criteria (trust, inspiration, message and presence).

 

Go here to see this data on Google Docs

 

What do the charts tell us?

  1. None of the candidates are in the happy quadrant, in the upper right corner. They are clustered in the weakest place, which is to be expected this early in the race. Most will drop out soon because ‘Real’ will cull them. They can’t sustain a campaign to move them into a better place.
     
  2. Romney scores very well on ‘Real’ with his financial backing and prudent planning. Even so, Romney is no more acceptable to the overall voter market than his competitors. Romney is unappealing to me (‘Worth’) compared to the others. He better start connecting more with voters. My favorite pundits keep saying Romney owns the GOP race, mostly because he scores well on Real criteria. They are ignoring how unacceptable he is to conservatives. If it comes down to a Obama vs. Romney race, I won’t “hold my nose and vote;” I’ll stay home.
     
  3. Obama, like Romney, is well positioned on the ‘Real’ axis. Still, Obama is no more acceptable than the flock of GOP candidates. Obama can move to the positive quadrant if he can encourage people to trust him. His strategy based on a negative campaign will not help move him in the direction he wants. He has the smallest Worth bubble because I think the man is incompetent and lazy.
     
  4. Gingrich has a weak ‘Real,’ but a good Win. I have heard him speak. He can motivate people through difficult choices, which we need even though there is some baggage from the 90s. I also scored Gingrich high on Worth. He is the only proven candidate to fix a major U.S. entitlement problem — Welfare — with Bill Clinton.
     
  5. Ron Paul has the highest Worth score. This shocked me, because I really fear him. He does hit my value points well. Real problems in the Win score — I don’t think voters will accept Paul despite his loyal foot soldiers.
     
  6. Santorum was lower when I first ran the spreadsheet, but he’s been doing well in Iowa this week. He scores higher than Romney for me. I would like to see Santorum run against Obama instead of Romney.
     
  7. Bachmann has no chance. She is loathed by the media and she has a grating personal style. People just hate her. I have heard her speak — she is my representative — and I think this is undeserved. Bachmann lacks executive experience and her campaign team has collapsed.
     
  8. Perry could be better. I do not understand how he could be so successful (his high Worth) with the Texas market and fail with the U.S. electorate and press.

      

  9. Huntsman? Well, the media likes him. I don’t. And like Bachmann, Hunstman has no ‘oomph’ to gain any ‘Real’ points

 

I work for a corporation that always deals with uncertainty. We use analytical tools to parse mushy data. In teams and no small amount of debate, we define success criteria. The comptroller is there to keep us down to earth. Marketing brings data about competitors and customers, and wants and needs of the market. Engineers know materials, manufacturing and their capabilities to produce.

I’ve been on teams who have used Real-Win-Worth (RWW) analysis to decide whether to enter a market with a new product. RWW is great for forcing teams to think through what’s important and what is not. If the team decides to proceed with product development, they revisit the RWW periodically when time reveals more useful data. 

RWW tells business teams to run after those projects where there is a real chance of Winning the market share with superior (Real)  manufacturing or technical expertise. You want projects that score in the upper right corner with nice large bubbles (Worth). If your project is too small or it is too far down the axis, then either stop the project or change something to improve Real or Win.

This RWW analysis would be more accurate if it came from a team of people with different political perspectives and values. Discussion would uncover other criteria. We can assume the scores would be better balanced.

I am a former Six Sigma Black Belt and DFSS engineer. I’ve lead teams through RWW workshops. I plan to stay the course on this RWW through the year and I’ll ‘vote’ or ‘buy’ a few times through the year.

Right now, none of them are worth ‘buying.’

 

 

Kill The Bill Rally, 2010-March-13

 
 

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Yesterday I went to an Obamacare health care protest called “Kill The Bill’ at the Minnesota State Capitol. The cold, breezy day did not daunt the thousands of protesters who came with their signs. There were speakers, too, including conservative blogger, Ed Morrissey, and U.S. congresswoman, Michele Bachmann. The rally was supposed to last one hour but it went beyond two.

 Observations

  • This event was quite dissimilar to  the Al Franken pro-Obamacare rally I went to last month. Oh, the format was nearly the same: signs, shouting, speeches by local politicos leading up to a Featured Guest. But the differences between the two events were obvious:  Yesterday’s rally started with the Pledge Of Allegiance, the Franken rally did not; Bachmann, was very passionate and informed, whereas  Franken’s nasal ten-minute standup was something of a yawner; and, there were 4,000 people at the Kill The Bill Rally and maybe 300 at Franken’s pro-health care event. But the biggest contrast was the ANGER I saw at Kill The Bill. Franken’s rally tried to stir people against insurance companies, and it did to a degree, but on an emotional Richter scale it was maybe a 3.5. Kill The Bill was a boisterous 9.0.
  • There were children at the Kill The Bill Rally. Entire families were there.
  • Protesters brought many homemade signs.
  • Although this wasn’t an official Tea Party event, those people were certainly there. I saw the flags.
  • Some quotes from the speakers:
    • Bachmann: “No Congress in history has ever passed a law without voting on it.” She evoked Madison and Jefferson.
    • Bachmann: “This is a one-term presidency.” The crowd went wild.
    • Bachmann reminded the crowd “There’s one-party rule in Washington.” The allusions to the USSR were inescapable.
    • Bachmann: “You can hear the bones breaking in Washington.”  She described the Democrat-on-Democrat  thuggery to force Pelosian capitulation. She also said Pelosi was threatening non-compliant Democrats with ethics violations, an “old trick.”
    • Another speaker: “Where are the Canadians going to go when Obama screws up health care?” Lots of laughter on this one.
 

 

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Conclusions

  • This crowd wasn’t defeatist at all. They assume Obamacare will shatter in the next few weeks. But I’ll expect defiance and retaliation if it doesn’t. Bachmann told the crowd that Obamacare’s passage without a roll call vote is patently illegal under the Constitution. She didn’t advise people to break the law, but this crowd doesn’t respect Obamacare, so disobedience is likely if it is signed.
  • Retaliation is likely, too, and when it comes, it will be ugly. The people in this crowd are fed up with Obama’s arrogance and patronizing dialogue. The message Americans sent, and continue to send to the Democrats is being ignored. “I’m not giving up and I’m not going home!” Resentment, fueled with anger leads to words like “evict” and “toss them out.”
  • Yet the undertone common to all the speeches and chants was plain old worry. Yesterday’s crowd knows Obamacare will fail… eventually. It knows this failure will be a malignant, drawn-out road to bankruptcy.
  • Obamacare looks more Soviet by the day. Socialism. Committees. Panels. Mandates. The crowd shouted “We want our sovereignty back!” for many minutes straight. Another worry.
 
 

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I was cold, and after the mike was closed, I turned to go back to my car. I looked at the sky for assurance it wasn’t going to rain again. A large raptor flew in from the west, high above the dispersing crowd. “An eagle?” I thought. What a symbol to end the event! I hoped other people will notice it, too. The bird flew to the Capitol and landed on a ledge, facing the crowd. Then I saw that it wasn’t an eagle.

It was a big, broad-shouldered hawk.