Lessons from the 2012 Presidential Election

I am always on the look out for lessons that I can apply to investing and business. This post-election morning is not any different.

Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting aspects of the election season, and try to discern what lessons there are, for investors and others to learn:

1. Process Matters: Sharp data analysis beats squishy feelings. The accuracy of a handful of statisticians versus the bloviating punditry is for me, the single most dramatic storyline of the election.  Nate Silver showed data, logical reasoning and mathematics outperform “gut feel” and instinct.

2. Think Deeply Before You Speak: Grand pronouncements with limited upside but immense downside are suicidal in every field. The Romney OpEd about letting Detroit go bankrupt may have doomed his candidacy in Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin.

3. Be True to Yourself: Romney is a former moderate, pro choice governor who worked as bipartisan chief executive in Massachusetts creating a state wide healthcare program. He ran away from that, first tacking hard to the right to win over the base, then shifting to the middle during the election. He should have ran on his credentials instead of trying to please every one.

4. Planning and Execution Matter: The blocking and tackling in states like Ohio Florida and Virginia were a huge advantage to the incumbent. His team executed well, where as Romney team (apparently) came up short. Being able to put together a smart plan and then execute on it is crucial.

5. Choose Your Business Partners Well: The VP choice is a major decision a Presidential candidate makes, and Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan added nothing to his chances. If you are trying to shore up your base at your convention, you have not done the requisite planning. Ryan could not even deliver his home state and fumbled his debate to a grinning goofy Biden. All told, a net negative for the Romney campaign.

6. Dont Live in a Bubble: Large swaths of the conservative movement live in an alternative universe where facts don’t matter and science is irrelevant. The selective perception of bubble people who never venture beyond Fox News and Drudge and UnskewedPolls is self reinforcing. If you spend most of your time rationalizing why the polls are inaccurate and the media is biased, don’t be surprised at what happens next.

This post was originally published at The Big Picture and is reproduced here with permission.

7 Responses to "Lessons from the 2012 Presidential Election"

  1. Bob   November 7, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Yes so Romney did so much wrong, his policies seemed horrible, and still white men voted for him in by huge margins. We had to rely on a coalition of the relatively powerless to allow common sense to triumph.

    When you present people (white men) with a rational arguments that are counter to their gut feelings I don't think they alter their feelings. I think it only strengthens there feelings since they tend to believe the rational arguments are an attempt to deceive t them. This seems to be human nature. And if this is true then this election will convince the white men that they were right all along, since they won overwhelmingly in the red states and were only defeated by what they see as the angry poor.

    So I am afraid we may dive further in the bubble.

    • GBean   November 14, 2012 at 9:04 pm

      It's funny I have some simple principles to live by. Learn as much as you can, work as hard as you can, save as much as you can to ensure your children rise above you and provide as much opportunity as you can afford to your children and grandchildren out of love for them but also to make them better citizens that do not seek to soak someone else or blame someone else. And let's be frank…mr Obama won 93 % of the African American vote….mr romney's lead among white males was no where near as solid. So when you are looking for a group to suggest votes en mass without much thought…please look no further.

    • EEB   November 15, 2012 at 4:46 am

      Well, that just shows that you're like almost everybody else. They provide "as much opportunity as they can afford" to their blood relatives (nepotism). Now, it might dawn on you that certain individuals like, say, the Mutt, can "afford" one hell of a lot of "opportunity". This, of course, is why the Mutt worships "opportunity". But all that this type of (antisocial) behavior accomplishes is to reproduce and intensify inequality. Inequality of "opportunity" generates inequality of "outcomes", which in turn, generates inequality of "opportunity", …… This is what we mathematicians call a "positive feedback loop". Given an absence of damping, this loop acts dynamically like mechanical resonance- it causes the system to crash. This allows us left- wingers to watch you right- wing chowderheads function as your own gravediggers, just as Karl Marx said you would!

  2. Edward Stevens   November 8, 2012 at 10:50 am

    So those people– like me as a white male Libertarian- are wrong and horrible, and non-common sensical. Clearly, a tolerant view that holds out the possibility that all wisdom does not reside with me. Just maybe there is the possibility that 100% of what others say 100% of the time is not wrong, horrible, and nomn-common sensical. Just maybe.

  3. DENNIS   November 13, 2012 at 5:22 am

    DESPITE ALL THE RHETORIC, ADS AND CAMPAIGN TALK, ROMNEY CAME ACROSS TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC AS A POLITICIAN WHO DID NOT CARE FOR THE COMMON MAN. HIS PORTRAYAL OF HIMSELF AS A SUCCESS BECAUSE HE MADE A LOT OF MONEY MADE HIM LOOK LIKE A MATERIALIST. HIS TONE AND POSTURING INDICATED THAT HE CONSIDERED PEOPLE WHO FELL SHORT OF ACHIEVING THE AMERICAN DREAM AS LOSERS. HE WAS PERCEIVED AS A MAN WHO UNDERSTOOD LITTLE BEYOND MONEY.

    • Dana   November 13, 2012 at 10:35 am

      Not to mention that the Republican party has begun the alienation of the next generation of voters. Romney's comments in the debate about cutting off funding for Sesame Street made my 8 year old outraged; that in light of his stance that the military would receive no cuts. Living in the glory of days gone by will not endear them to future voters.

  4. Jpaw   November 14, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    How odd a position to have given his long record of charitable gifts and his position within his church which enabled him to help so many young and old people. And such an odd opinion given his record in Massacheusetts. I think you have spent too much time selling yourself on the ideas of an eight year old whose enjoyment of sesame street comes entirely from somebody else's money. What a fine education you are providing her, live off the work of others, sit back watch tv and learn your lessons from a muppet.