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Sep 17 2012

The blame game has already started for the Romney campaign

The site Politico had a long piece on the disarray and infighting within the Romney campaign. This is just one of a slew of articles in a similar vein as can be seen here, here, and here.

The reason this is noteworthy is not because of what it says about the Romney campaign itself but about how the media views the state of the campaign.

When a candidate is seen by the media as winning, articles start appearing describing that campaign as a smoothly running machine. When a candidate is seen a losing, reports emerge about problems within its staffers, detailing personality clashes, lack of direction, etc. Very often there is no substantive difference in the actual campaigns themselves. In fact, if Romney should suddenly take the lead, you would likely see the stories reversed and the Obama campaign would be portrayed as the one in disarray with the Romney campaign portrayed as strategic geniuses.

There is one significant difference between winning and losing campaigns though, and that arises due to the fact that senior campaign operatives are often merely hired guns who have no deep loyalty to the candidate they serve. They always have one eye on the next job and if they feel that the candidate they are currently working for is going down the tubes, they will try to get the word out that it was not their fault and that their advice was not taken by those higher up. Hence losing campaigns give reporters more fertile fields to mine for insider gossip. Winning campaign staffers have no such need to cover themselves since they all bask in the reflected glory and will be sought after for future campaigns. Why risk being booted off a winning campaign for being indiscreet?

So the reason that for a campaign falling behind may not be poor execution by staffers. It is usually that the candidate is, for whatever reason, not appealing enough to voters.

7 comments

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  1. 1
    Marcus Ranum

    senior campaign operatives are often merely hired guns who have no deep loyalty to the candidate they serve. They always have one eye on the next job and if they feel that the candidate they are currently working for is going down the tubes, they will try to get the word out that it was not their fault and that their advice was not taken by those higher up.

    Exactly the kind of people you want running a government.

  2. 2
    Argle Bargle

    It’s the old mistakes were made but not by me game.

  3. 3
    mikmik

    The question is whether this affects the decision of any voters at election time.

  4. 4
    smhll

    There is one significant difference between winning and losing campaigns though, and that arises due to the fact that senior campaign operatives are often merely hired guns who have no deep loyalty to the candidate they serve. They always have one eye on the next job and if they feel that the candidate they are currently working for is going down the tubes, they will try to get the word out that it was not their fault and that their advice was not taken by those higher up.

    A comparison to the behavior of rodents on sinking ships comes to mind.

  5. 5
    Some Old Programmer

    A bit OT, but I recently saw a news story that mentions an IRS amnesty program for (I suppose the polite term is “investors”) with the Swiss bank UBS.

    This is complete speculation, but it would make sense of Gov. Romney’s statements that he’s never paid zero taxes, while remaining adamant that he won’t release his older tax returns. Would participation in an IRS tax amnesty program pop up on tax returns? Has any intrepid reporter asked Gov. Romney if he’s taken advantage of a tax amnesty program?

    If my guess happened to be true and become public knowledge, I think he’d be toast.

  6. 6
    Mano Singham

    Matt Yglesias has speculated that this might very well be the reason he is not disclosing his tax returns. But as far as I am aware, no reporter has asked this question directly. Yet.

  7. 7
    Marcus Ranum

    One would think it would be easy enough. Is he so well-protected from questions? It’d be a great question on the debates…

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