Wednesday 31 August 2011

Communicator of the Week

In a political world dominated by identikit candidates, who talk, look and, it seems, think the same way, a new face has emerged in the race to be the Republican candidate for president.

American political elections are often dominated by one simple question: who has momentum? At this stage, still over a year away from the actual presidential election, the answer to this question may end up to be misleading but in winning the Republican nomination it is essential. 

For the first time in months, a national poll among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, 29 per cent said they preferred Texas Governor Rick Perry as the nominee to take on President Obama, compared to 17 per cent for previous front-runner Mitt Romney.

So how has Perry made such an impact so quickly in an already crowded field?

First he has used language that resonates with the Republican core vote. In an age of vanilla sound bites it may seem obvious for a Republican to state they are a Conservative but if that is the case why haven't more done so?

Governor Perry talked about how proud he was to be a conservative and how he governed as a conservative in Texas which allowed him to prick the ears of a broad range of sub-groups within the G.O.P.

Second, he maximised his record on the economy and as a creator of jobs while talking a lot about Texas. At a time when the unemployment rate under President Obama remains depressingly high - despite his expansionist spending policies - this is a way to differentiate on substance.

It also allowed him to plant his flag right in the heart of Mitt Romney's point of difference and where the former Massachusetts Governor has been concentrating his fire on President Obama: the economy.

Furthermore, 'the Lone Star State' holds a special place in American mythology where Texans are automatically seen to be outsiders from the hated politicians in Washington. This is a clever piece of positioning by the Perry campaign as their candidate has been Governor for over a decade and so naturally has accumulated baggage from various political deals and policies along the way.  Over time his opponents will be able to exploit this weakness but they haven't been able to yet.

Finally, when entering a political race as long as the one leading to the door of the White House, one with a crowded field of headline grabbers, it is essential that you go big. Rick Perry certainly has done this by choosing his entry to the race perfectly, by saying what he thinks on issues that matter to the electorate and defining himself before formally entering the race he has got his nose ahead. After only two weeks in the race Rick Perry has momentum which is why he is my communicator of the week.

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