Throughout this presidential campaign, what we’ve learned about Mitt Romney is he is a numbers guy. That mindset may play well in the business world but it’s not translating very well to the campaign trail. He’s too “metric stiff.”
The new, “47 percent” video may excite the conservative base of the party (and believe me, it will) but unfortunately it sheds light on a much bigger problem for Romney. He’s all about statistics. He’s fascinated with polling data, numbers, and spreadsheets. My goodness, it’s how he made a wonderful living at Bain Capital.
But herein lies the political problem. People aren’t numbers. How can you connect with people when you see people as part of a digit formula? What you end up getting is the line by Romney where he says 47 percent of people “are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them.”
He should never have quantified the number. He may have empirical data proving this (doubtful) but that’s not the point. By assigning a percentage figure to his analysis, he laid bare not only his connection problem but he’s also too caught up in playing mathematical chess games rather than going out there and inspiring people with his message.
Where is the advice from high-level campaign staffers who will tell Romney, ‘Forget the 47 percent figure. Let’s just go out there and win the battle of ideas no matter what subset group we’re talking to.’
Have we seen this same philosophy play out with Romney and the evangelical vote here in 2012? Romney analyzed the numbers and saw that many of the Teavangelical presidential candidates were splitting the vote during the primaries, so why bother courting evangelicals wholeheartedly? He made a few evangelical cattle call appearances and that was about it. The bare minimum. There wasn’t really any desire to take his message to evangelicals on a consistent basis and fight for their vote because the polling data didn’t look promising.
Put in mathematical terms, that “subset” didn’t seem winnable to Romney. It may have been a good political strategy but he sure didn’t build any “street cred” with Teavangelicals in the process. Once again, I’m sure the Romney people have data suggesting that Teavangelicals will show up and vote for Romney in November anyhow so why bother. But that is wholly shortsighted. By not engaging evangelicals throughout the process, Romney misses the potential of bringing in a bigger pool of first-time evangelical voters into the fold. They can’t just leave it all up to evangelical organizations to do their dirty work.
Look, I’m not saying math isn’t important. That’s a big part of getting to 270 Electoral votes and becoming president. What I’m saying is the “47 percent video” sheds light on Romney’s main problem. He’s too controlled by data. He’s too consumed by numbers. It’s in his DNA and while that may be great for balancing a budget, it’s not a great mindset when you’re trying to engage and win over voters.