If I were Rick Perry

[I challenged myself to write a blog post in 8 minutes and edit in 30 seconds. Go!]

If I were Rick Perry:

I think it's pretty obvious.

First of all, let's distinguish between strategies which are designed to get you a niche and those which might win you the nomination. For example, Donald Trump came out as the anti-free trade candidate and immediately occupied a niche that no one else was playing in. He immediately dominated that niche, which due to the divided field was good enough to be "#1."

Focus on difficult paths that might get you to 1600 Pennsylvania, not on easier paths that get you to double digits in the polls.

Second, Trump isn't going to be the nominee. Positioning yourself as the anti-Trump isn't a bad place to be.

Right now, Donald Trump is like Paris Hilton a decade ago. Put her name up as clickbait, and you'd get traffic. Right now in politics, talk Trump, get press coverage.

So go after it. Tear into Trump with the most Trumpian of insults: call him a socialist -- Trump would do it to you. And to use Trump's logic, it's entirely fair: he's had zillions of über-big government proposals over the years. Arguably Trump's record is as far left as Obama's or Hillary Clinton's. [To be fair, neither Obama nor Hillary has ever created a job, whereas at least Trump used his inherited wealth to create jobs]

Counterargument: Both Rick Perry and Rand Paul went after Trump and saw their poll numbers drop.

It's a dumb counterargument.

1. Extremely small sample size. Two brief salvos by different candidates? You can't control for the thousands of other variables. Small sample size arguments are quite popular in politics -- for decades journalists and pundits swore that you couldn't get elected president as a US Senator -- but it seems like a prep school kid from Hawaii with a funny name proved that one quite silly.

2. Find a messaging frame, be consistent, and stick to it. Do more than one speech. When you give a couple speeches and soundbites, you just desperate, so it's not surprising that your poll numbers go down. Plan a communications strategy, then commit to it.

3. Donors don't like Trump. Expose his liberal record and bring down his poll numbers? They like you more. You look presidential.

4. Most actual Republican primary voters have already decided they will never, ever vote for Trump. They're not liberals, after all. So you might carve yourself out a niche as the anti-Trump and immediately benefit.

Posted by Evan @ 09/06/15 04:24 PM


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