As nearly always New York Times’ Columnist David Brooks made one think Tuesday about the numbing and dumbing of American elections. Here is a link.
Poll driven campaigns are inherently reactive, almost like trench warfare, rarely breaking out from challenges lobbed into the bunker.
Very rare is the campaign anymore that pulls an upset based on ideas. It’s mostly whoever has the most money wins.
John McCain’s 2000 upstart presidential campaign is perhaps the best example of a campaign team being rewarded with a different approach.
They did not bottle up their candidate in a bubble with redundant talking points. They allowed people to see a human being with humor and candor. But more importantly they focused on an issue that didn’t appear as a concern in any polls: campaign finance reform.
If the McCain team had simply followed the polls it would have sounded exactly like George W. Bush’s campaign, and been overwhelmed by his money.
Instead, they catapulted from the introduction of a new idea to reinforce an overall message of reform. McCain moved the polls with innovation not regurgitation. He did not win but it was an epic battle few saw coming.
Others across American elections since have certainly succeeded likewise, but they are the exception not the rule, as most candidates continue to be ruled by a formula rather than a next generation framework.