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Political Risk Assessment

Maybe we’re just tired of “Serious”.

After watching the Sunday political shows, every journalist asks, “Why is the media so focused on the Petraeus Investigation?”

I have a defense for this:  we’re all tired of the REALLY IMPORTANT STUFF.

After the election, which felt like it lasted over a year, and then the worry about the impending disaster of the fiscal cliff (please, don’t say “PHYSICAL CLIFF”), maybe everyone is exhausted by the urgent and important issues and would just like a good old fashioned sex scandal. And we got one!

An amusing, lightweight story, where the main players are stereotypes themselves, the attractive, social-climbing women, the glamorous jet-setting generals, who take time out of fighting terror to send out sexy emails, is a delight after all the serious reporting of the last four months.

I think we should be able to enjoy it a little, and as Mr. Bennett said in Pride & Prejudice, ” For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?”.   And it’s the General’s turn!

No Way to Win an Election – A Risk Assessment

Watching the pandemonium that is the build up to the Iowa Caucus, you can follow the thread that pandering and trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator brings to the Iowa Caucus candidates.

They have taken what could have been an asset, and transformed it into the threat that each of the candidates seems to be fixated on –  that they will not be considered ‘enough of a social conservative’ and so will not win the caucus. 

So, by having a field of five (Paul, Newt, Santorum, Perry and Bachman) competing to be the most dogmatic, the most restrictive, the most anti-abortion, the most anti-immigrant, the most family-oriented, etc., they have actually pared down their own chances of winning.

Romney is running in the slightly more moderate vertical, which no one wants to compete in because it’s not such a knee-jerk distinction, which is why I left him out of this analysis.

In risk assessment terns, this means they have focused on addressing the wrong potential threat (not being conversative enough), and failed to address the real threat (losing the election or coming in dead last).

For the field of five, it turns out that by directly competing against each other, they energize their narrow social conservative vertical and that keeps all five of them alive, and the eventual  outcome is the splintering of that narrow field, which effectively prevents any one of them from anything close to a clear win.

It may be a great way to promote yourself for a later VP slot, or, who knows, maybe a future ambassadorship, but it’s NO WAY TO WIN AN ELECTION!


What’s the Risk of Backing Newt Gingrich?

Hundreds of the shakers and movers in the Republican party AND the Democratic party are doing their risk assessments this week on who to openly support, and doing the risk calculation on whether it is better to wait and see what emerges, or make their comments/endorsements now and worry about the fall out later!

Here is the kind of risk model for politics that people use, often unconsciously- to make those decisions. Political risk is especially tricky because there are 2 stakeholders to consider:

1. what’s good for ME personally
2. what’s good for THE PARTY, DISTRICT, or COUNTRY.

Here’s a list of threats that politicians worry about in a situation like this:

1. Lose my current position
2. Lose my Power in the Party/Coalition/Media
3. Lose campaign contributions
4. Lose voters
5. Lose tea party support
6. Lose respect from peers
7. Lose future election
8. Lose income
9. Look wrong in the media
10. Create bad sound byte
11. Face Reprisals Later from Establishment
12. Lose Media Support (however it exists).

More tomorrow on how to value the assets of an ongoing campaign.