Wednesday, March 12, 2008

On Hillary and Barack

Last summer I was torn. I'd read Barack Obama's book, Dreams from My Father, and found him to be a compelling politician. One of the most compelling and inspiring politicians, in fact. Especially when most politicians say the same old circular nothings, he actually had something interesting to say.

On the other hand, I respected Hillary's tenacity and hard work. As a feminist, the thought of the U.S.'s first female president was particularly appealing. And she seemed to have the upper-hand - she was consistently ranking higher in the polls, by about 20 points, if I remember correctly.

So both candidates were appealing. I was torn over who to support.

After witnessing the primaries so far, I have definitely become a Barack Obama fan. Say what you will about his experience, but running a primary campaign ought to reveal a lot about a politician's managerial skills, and he has certainly run a better campaign. He's come back from behind last summer to the leader in pledged delegates by building strong grassroots organizations.

As reported by numerous media outlets, including the New York Times, the Clinton campaign didn't have a Plan B, they thought they would have the nomination wrapped up by February 5.

Last week she told reporters that she “had no idea” that the Texas primary system was “so bizarre” (it’s a primary-caucus hybrid), adding that she had “people trying to understand it as we speak.”

Hello? Aren't you supposed to know these things when you run for office?

Another New York Times article quotes her senior adviser, Harold Ickes, as saying:

“It’s hard to draw conclusions about her management style because she is, in fact, not the manager of her campaign.”

Um...but you're the candidate. You ought to have some management of your own campaign. The Washington Post has an article on the incredible dissent within the Clinton team.

In contrast (and this is a different, marketing-based perspective) - Obama has a "coherent, top-to-bottom, 360-degree [branding] system at work." Newsweek quotes graphic designer Michael Bierut as saying:

The thing that sort of flabbergasts me as a professional graphic designer is that, somewhere along the way, they decided that all their graphics would basically be done in the same typeface, which is this typeface called Gotham. If you look at one of his rallies, every single non-handmade sign is in that font. Every single one of them. And they're all perfectly spaced and perfectly arranged. Trust me. I've done graphics for events --and I know what it takes to have rally after rally without someone saying, "Oh, we ran out of signs, let's do a batch in Arial." It just doesn't seem to happen. There's an absolute level of control that I have trouble achieving with my corporate clients.

I've done corporate communications. I know how hard it is to stick to the branding. There's management skill there.

Finally, Hillary's behind. For her so-called wins last week in Ohio, Texas, and Rhode Island, she and Barack are where they were before those elections. If you do the math, it's highly unlikely that she's going to get enough delegates to win the nomination before the Democratic convention.

Again, it's her fault. As reported by the Rolling Stone, the Obama campaign decided to invest in states like Idaho. Clinton apparently didn't have one staffer, there. As a result,

Obama won with eighty percent of the vote, netting fifteen of the state's eighteen delegates. While Clinton was spending lavishly to win New Jersey with 600,000 votes, Obama more than offset his delegate loss there simply by mobilizing 17,000 Idahoans to caucus for him.

Again, there's another example of vision, strategy, and management.

Overall, he's run a better campaign. He's been able to last in the race as long as he's had, and be ahead in the delegate counts, because he had the foresight to have multiple plans for varying situations, monitor and use his resources carefully, and be strategic. Don't you want to have that kind of person be the President of the United States?

On a final note, here's two more interesting articles. One, marketer Seth Godin's perspective on sunk costs and quitting, and two, David Sirota's analysis of Clinton's "electability" argument.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Go Obama! Go Berta!

About the only good thing coming out of Clinton's insistence to stay in this race is that people's true colors are all coming out. Ferraro, Richardson, Carville, etc. It's like the brush-fire analogy. Sometimes it takes a disaster like this to see how people really think. Kudos to Richardson, shame on Ferraro and Carville!