Friday, March 18, 2016

Requiem for a campaign

National Review published a rather penetrating analysis of how Senator Marco Rubio imploded. The essay began with a highly-touted Republican pollster comparing him to Michael Jordan a year ago. The Senator stood in high esteem a year ago:

The 44-year-old son of Cuban immigrants became a celebrity in 2010, when he toppled Florida’s popular governor, Charlie Crist, en route to winning a seat in the U.S. Senate. His victory epitomized everything the then-ascendant Tea Party stood for — disrupting the established order, cleansing the landscape of Republicans perceived as too moderate — and he became a refutation, in the flesh, of charges that the party was a home only for old, wealthy, white men....

His star was dimmed — but hardly diminished (after the immigration fight). In a tribute to both his resilience and the stubbornness of elite impressions of his aptitude, the Florida senator found himself a top-tier contender at the outset of the 2016 race. There were reasons it should not have been so: his misreading of the base on immigration; his standing with conservatives, who had defected in droves to Ted Cruz, another charismatic Cuban-American senator with designs on the presidency; and the looming presence of friend and former mentor Jeb Bush, who was the first Republican to announce his intention to enter the race. Yet Rubio and his team began the campaign in April 2015 convinced of his unmatched talent, and bullish — bordering on cocky — about his prospects of winning the nomination and the White House...

Back to the Michael Jordan comparison:

Yet to the essential question — how someone so talented performed so poorly on the biggest stage — the simple answer is already apparent: Marco Rubio is not Michael Jordan. At least, not yet. Rubio’s eloquence, intelligence, boyish magnetism, and made-for-TV biography are the elements of a prototype presidential candidate. On paper, he is the Republicans’ dream and the Democrats’ nightmare. But talent in and of itself is neither transcendent nor transformational. And while the comparisons to a basketball legend began with Rubio’s once-in-a-generation skill set, that’s also where they ended...

Jordan’s greatness did not owe to talent alone. He was a maniacal competitor who refused to be outworked. He played to win, never waiting for opponents to beat themselves. And he was a master of all facets of the game, capable of besting different rivals in different ways rather than relying on a single strength...

Jordan also got tougher. Jordan and the Bulls regularly made the playoffs. Jordan dominated his opponents. Then they would face the Bad Boys of Detroit. The Pistons would physically beat up Jordan. Jordan got tired of it and hit the weights even harder and improved his game. He got the teammates he needed to fight back. In other words, opposition made him tougher. NR continues:
Rubio is a different story. He campaigned on the ground so infrequently for much of the campaign that even some supporters questioned how hard he was willing to work to get elected. He refused to play for wins, choosing instead to position himself as everyone’s second choice in hopes of becoming the consensus unifier as the field winnowed. (This is the key point of the whole essay. He got outworked by a mean 25 years older than him. Think about that. Lean met hungry and lean lost.).

And his strategy was one-dimensional, leaning so heavily on personality and biography that his concrete proposals — aimed at convincing voters that he knew how to solve their problems, not just how to relate to them— never broke through. The story of Rubio’s losing 2016 campaign is not simply that these shortcomings did him in; it’s that they were apparent early on and were ignored by a candidate and a team convinced that star power alone was enough to overcome them...

In one of 2016’s great unsolved mysteries, he spent much of the summer avoiding voters, so conspicuously absent that opposing campaign officials would ask reporters about his whereabouts. Officially, Rubio aides often claimed that he was on private fundraising swings. And yet for the entire third quarter of 2015, spanning from July through September, Rubio raised less than $6 million — a haul dwarfed by those of Bush, Cruz, and Ben Carson. Even Carly Fiorina raised more...

Of those three perceived weaknesses, Rubio’s light footprint in the four carve-out states proved most damaging. As summer turned to fall, and Bush proved to be far less formidable than anticipated, an obvious vacuum appeared for Rubio to fill. In Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, Republican officials wondered aloud when the Florida senator would finally begin investing the time and resources needed to make a serious play for the swaths of center-right voters desperate for an alternative to Trump and Cruz. But Rubio’s team, reluctant to raise expectations in any given state by setting up shop, kept playing hard-to-get. And defying suggestions that he become the mainstream GOP candidate, Rubio began going out of his way to court evangelical leaders and their constituents in the fall, leaving both wings of the party puzzled.... (If you don't play to win, you are playing to lose.)

In retrospect, Rubio’s aesthetic appeal was obviously not enough. “When you have a candidate as charismatic as Rubio, the people around him buy into the cult of personality,” says David Axelrod, the chief strategist for Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns. “You know, Barack Obama is a charismatic guy, but we also had a very detailed plan on how to get from A to B. If all we had done was rely on his charisma in Iowa and not built the greatest organization the state had ever seen, we would not have won the Iowa caucuses.”... (Cruz learned that lesson.)

Grumbling about the Rubio campaign’s organizational inadequacies, which could be heard from the outset, was never addressed. One Rubio staffer describes showing up at D.C. headquarters on the Sunday before the District’s GOP primary, prepared to get door-knocking assignments. The only problem? “They told us there was no lit,” the staffer said, referring to campaign literature. “Why are we wasting our time door-knocking without lit? If nobody was home, we weren’t even doing a lit-drop there; they were getting nothing. It’s a small incident, but it was indicative of the bigger picture, of how disorganized the field operation was top to bottom.”... (Sounds like Orca)

Back to playing to lose:

Rubio’s position was as enviable as it was unusual: Four states, four competitive contests, four opportunities to win. There was just one problem: His campaign refused to hone in on any one of them.

The dam broke in the second week of January. Multiple Rubio associates who had been privy to a senior-staff discussion on campaign strategy told National Review that the Rubio brain trust was outlining an unconventional sequence in which Rubio would place third in Iowa, second in New Hampshire, and first in South Carolina. The strategy, nicknamed “3-2-1” by those briefed on it, banked on a rapid winnowing of the field. Rubio’s team felt that a third-place finish in Iowa — ahead of “establishment lane” competitors such as Bush, Chris Christie, and John Kasich — would thrust him ahead of the pack in New Hampshire. If he beat them there, Rubio could consolidate the center-right vote, which, added to his share of conservatives, would give him a winning coalition in the ensuing three-man race with Trump and Cruz.

Fabian never lost his army but then he didn't exactly beat Hannibal in the field, either. Keep in mind that Rubio's campaign was run by former Mitt Romney campaign operatives. Resumes don't lie and losers are losers. There are some operatives who should be avoided like the plague if you want to win: Charlie Black, Steve Schmidt, and Scott Reed. Romney people should go on that list as well. Orca anyone? Micro-targeting? Is that a craft beer? You get the idea. The rest of the essay is a very good read and should be considered political porn for the political junkies.


Anonymous said...

It's pretty easy for a num-nut journalist to pass judgement on someone when he/she has done nothing but sit around judging others while having no experience in playing the game ( much like most sports writers). I'm no fan of Rubio nor Cruz, nor Trump, nor Hillary, nor Bernie, nor Kasich. But, sitting at your Mac and writing eloquently and judgmentally about something you've never done isn't worth much to me. Sort of like a puny sports writer talking about a boxer that can't take a hard punch.

Anonymous said...

Rubio was supported by tons of insurance money to defeat Christ. Then he wanted amnesty for his illegal ilk. Then he said "No" to relations with Cuba. He was good at memorizing his lines, until the fat guy from Jersey called him out. And, he has little hands. Trump/Kasich supporter here.

Marco Castro said...

I don't trust anybody who talks so fast I can't keep up with him....and who is obsessed with his own elocution-ism. After he strings eight sentences into a paragraph and finally takes a breath, I find that he's really said nothing at all. I'm not sure what job he'd be good at. There's gotta be something out there for him though. Maybe an announcer at Sea World.

Anonymous said...

... sitting at your Mac and writing eloquently and judgmentally about something you've never done isn't worth much to me.

[But] worth just enough where you feel compelled to leave a self-serving comment.

Anonymous said...

As a legal immigrant from South Africa I can assure you that the gang of 8 killed Rubio. Ilhe was led to political suicide by mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer. The GOP establishment has yet to figure out that legal citizens are all for border control. I came here for college and stayed for Georgetown medical school and residency at USB in alabama. I did it legally and I resent those who break in line by coming illegally. My family left cape Town when Mandela came to power and also did it legally. They support trump as do many other legal citizens from many demographics.

Anonymous said...

Looks at the report in last month's wall street journal. The black population has been passed in huge numbers by the Hispanics in this country in terms of purchasing power and they are being left in the dust by this illegal immigration problem. The blacks in this country would be nuts not to support trump for this reason. Jobs jobs jobs... the Republican and Democrats both have sold the black community out by open borders.

Anonymous said...

Obama has been an economic disaster for the black community.

Anonymous said...

The author was dead on about Rubio. He was absent much of the campaign on the ground. He was absent a lot in Washington as well, esp after his failed push for legalizing illegal immigrants. Once he received backlash it was like he lost his fire. Marco fell into the trap of listening to the democrats, for they said you had to be for legalization of you wanted the Hispanic vote and you can't win without them. Another problem of Marco was his personality. He just didn't come off as genuine. His smile always seemed fake and forced. He was never relaxed. His ears turning blood red and his constant sweating showed he has a phobia. Though Marco had his issues, he can take solice in that he isn't like Cruz, who still likes to play video games and do impersonations of the Simpson's characters.

Anonymous said...

Rubio fell into the trap of listening to the GOP RINOs.

Frigman Soid said...

Gotta love these lettuce-heads who provide timely psychological analyses.

Anonymous said...

4:13. 4:30: Same difference.

Anonymous said...

How is it possible that some republicans still fail at listening to their people?

What Republicans? said...

What's YOUR theory, 10:55?

Anonymous said...

My theory is that politicians have done this for so long they think it is their right, and the right of their family. It is their idea that people do not know how to make decisions without them explaining to us what they know we should do.
Somehow that always ends up with who they choose being elected no matter what the people want or need.

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Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

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There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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