Grover Norquist – A Power Behind The Throne

We’re taking a look a Grover Norquist’s writings because he is a prime mover behind the scenes in the American political arena for the Republicans.  There are many articles citing his influence, most notably about his requiring all Republican candidates to sign a pledge that they will never raise taxes. Norquist is also famous for his widely quoted comment that he wants to shrink government “down to the size where [we] can drown it in the bathtub.” Some folks argue that the tax pledge is a myth perpetrated by the left but, regardless, there seems to be a strong perception that he is extremely influential. The organization he heads, Americans For Tax Reform (ATR), seems to have a very large war chest, portions of which it shares with chosen Republican candidates that meet its criteria and, quite probably, at Norquist’s discretion.

Our analyses support that Norquist feels more comfortable being a power behind the throne rather than being an actual candidate. The chart “The measure of a candidate’s thoughts”, shown below, tends to support this and demonstrates a consistency over all of the writings we analyzed. Also, the consistency of the author’s Blue Sky numbers across all the articles implies that Norquist believes in what he’s saying and probably is quite happy in his “enabling” role.

Author Thoughts

 Norquist consistently keeps his writings on point.  The Author Blue Sky analysis results show he consistently scrubs even the minimalist padding that tends to lubricate a flow of words in the usual social situation. Only one or two of the several articles went above 3%, with only one actually hitting 50%; Raising Taxes Would Doom GOP in 2008.  In that case the analysis implies Norquist seemed to have felt obligated to write an article to make a point but thought that the article would have no impact and, possibly, was a waste of time.  This was the only extreme “Author Blue Sky” measurement deviation noted within the twelve writing samples chosen for this study.

A look at the Political Messaging numbers (below) supports the thought that Norquist likes to work in the trenches and not take lead on the battlefield.  The “I am leadership material” is in the sixties percentile and “I am Electable in the fifties consistently over all of the articles examined.  He is thoroughly convinced that he knows what is best for the country and genuinely feels the country is more important than his career.  “I have a Vision for This Country” is consistently between 90% and 100%, while “I Have a Vision” hovers in the 40 to mid-fifties percent range.

The numbers also support Norquist’s more passive, but extremely critical, role in that he appears to feel well qualified to lead the nation to his vision of what he thinks the country needs but is not certain he can pull it off.  His “I am of The People” numbers indicate he doesn’t feel he would sufficiently inspire people to follow him or be comfortable with him as a leader. In other words, finding the right leaders and influencing them is his best opportunity for achieving his goals.

Norquist's Political Messaging

The Age and Gender Persuasion charts below illustrate that Norquist tends to appeal more to men than women. Unsurprisingly, the target age group varies with the target audience for a given article. This is the one area where he appears to be inconsistent but, in actuality, isn’t. He is carefully targeting the group the article has been written for.  His writings are very well crafted and he seems to avoid writing articles that try to be all things to all people.

Norquist's Gender Appeal

Norquist's Age Appeal

The Blue Sky number below indicates that Norquist feels what he says will stand on its own right and any fact checking will confirm what he says. This goes with his belief that he knows what is the best course for the country, as mentioned above.

In sum, Norquist is effective and, probably, an honest political operative who is firm and public in his beliefs and extremely influential (see Gang of Five in Nina Easton’s 2000 book). On an editorial note, he has a tendency to make allusions to some bad (or even horrible situations, past and present), and equating them to Obama’s or the Democrats’ actions. It’s very effective propaganda, unfortunately,  rather transparent to our Blue Sky analysis algorithms. However, it was pointed out by NextStage’s Joesph Davis  that if Norquist doesn’t think his attacks on Obama/Democrats are BS, they won’t show up as BS, hence BlueSky will give it a low BS score. Irrespective of how one feels about him, its another indication of Norquist’s effectiveness as a behind the scenes political operative for the Republican Party.

Norquist's BlueSky


Political humor dates back to 1600BCE, specifically to ancient Egypt under King Snofru. It could extend further into antiquity and we have no records of it. The joke was “How do you entertain a bored pharaoh? You sail a boatload of young women dressed only in fishing nets down the Nile and urge the pharaoh to go catch a fish.”

Political humor, regardless of its age or era, reveals what the populace believes true about those in authority. In modern lingo, it reveals sentiment. Wandering minstrels praised the king in his court and reviled him at the fringes of the empire. Court jesters were the only ones able to directly mock the crown. Whether they survived the joke was another matter entirely.

NextStage started receiving political cartoons and jokes since shortly after this blog’s launch. Here we share what we’ve received to date along with some commentary. Cartoons and text are shared pretty much in the order we received them. Remember that these were unsolicited and came in “over the transom”, hence reveal are the mood of the populace. Similar concerns are affecting people regardless of political affiliations.

Bold text are contributors’ labels for each image.

The Simpsons is the longest running scripted show in television history, premiering on Fox in 1990, and is well established as a meter of public sentiment. Celebrities are both canonized and mocked and those who are not yet celebrities become so overnight with a single Simpson appearance.

Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann are therefore immortalized. But is it how they want to be remembered or how people are remembering them?

Ron Jeremy for President

Ron Jeremy for President

Ron Jeremy is a well established porn star and self-parodist (that means “he doesn’t take himself seriously”). The theme of government and voting equating to unpleasant sexual relations (no offense directed at Mr. Jeremy) has been abundant so far (although most can’t be shared).

Best Non-Partisan Joke ever

A driver is stuck in a traffic jam on the highway. Nothing is moving.
Suddenly, a man knocks on the window. The driver rolls down the window and asks, “What’s going on?”
 “Terrorists have kidnapped Congress, and are asking for a $10 million dollar ransom. Otherwise, they are going to douse them all in gasoline and set them on fire. We are going from car to car, taking up a collection.”
How much is everyone giving, on average?” the driver asks.
The man replies, “About a gallon.”

Violence against authority demonstrates how much frustration and discontent exists. The above suggests violence against an authoritative body, not an individual, hence the frustration is with government as a whole and not individuals in authority.

Rednecks for Obama

Rednecks for Obama

Humor often uses juxtaposition because unlikely partnerships amuse us. Obama is often described as an intellectual and constitutional scholar. Perhaps the theory behind this image is that rednecks and intellectuals are an unlikely partnership.

The term “redneck” infers class, cultural, political and regional stereotypes. What immediately comes to mind when “redneck” is used? “Intellectual” carries similar baggage and both terms are used to humor’s advantage based on the audience. When you hear “intellectual” do you immediately think of the rural south? Do a lot of rednecks receive advanced degrees or become thoracic surgeons?

Political humor often demonstrates differences (several pieces in this post do that). The above image demonstrates inclusion, “we’re not so different after all.”

Body language is revealing and only if we know what the body language is in response to. There’s not enough information in this image to determine what’s going on in the environment (what’s causing the body language). For example, are Bush and Obama hearing the national anthem? Is Bush demonstrating feelings of regret, feelings of shame? Is Obama experiencing a moment of pride, of ecstasy? Are they hearing a prayer and responding from different religious backgrounds? The interpretations are endless unless context is given.

Ron Paul and Rick Perry

Ron Paul and Rick Perry

Humor targeted Rick Perry when he couldn’t remember several items about government and his own campaign. Such forgettings are sometimes called “elder” or “senior” moments. Yet Ron Paul is the designated “crazy old man” in Republican Candidates as Simpson Characters above while Ron Perry is a gun-toting…what? Militant? Texan? What does the face in the cartoon indicate about the artist’s feelings towards Perry? Towards Paul?

As with Obama-Bush Body Language above, we have no idea what the real cause of Paul’s and Perry’s body language was and here the artist provides context by including language. What does the included language tell us about the artist’s feelings towards Paul and Perry?

Michele Bachmann Stole This Jacket

Michele Bachmann Stole This Jacket

Michele Bachmann as more caricature than real person, as two dimensional (at best) and not whole is another recurring theme. Graphics we’ve received indicate people are uncomfortable with her and she should not be taken seriously far more than any other candidate.

Sarah Palin Books

Sarah Palin Books
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The value of Sarah Palin’s books — hence her value in the political process — is indicated by the book being discounted 90%. What is Sarah Palin’s purpose in the current political process? Is she a king or queen maker? Do the majority of Americans pay her any attention or is she considered “out there”? Is her audience redneck or intellectual? Why? Has her time as a voice in American politics passed? Did American’s allies take her seriously and if not, why not?

One’s Crazy, One’s Acting Crazy. Guess Who’s Who!

One's Crazy, One's Acting Crazy. Guess Who's Who!
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Jon Stewart caricatured Michele Bachmann’s expression in the above. Such humor needs to played wisely because Americans (as a society) are hesitant to admit publicly their feelings about an individual’s features even when they’re laughing hysterically in private. People may also empathize with this type of humor’s target or take a more serious look at the target because of the personage making the joke.

Jon Stewart’s audience is sophisticated and educated. Part of the joke is that the joke itself is adolescent humor (making fun of someone’s features or body) thus the humor is multi-layered and accessible only to a sophisticated, educated audience. This image demonstrates segregation, an “Us versus Them” mentality, and the prejudice is a very old one; the educated fear the uneducated, the uneducated fear the educated, and the educated often mock the uneducated in their presence with the belief the uneducated won’t understand the subtlety hence not know they’re being mocked, adding to the joke’s in-crowd specificity and gaining social collateral for the joke-maker.

Nothing overtly indicates Michele Bachmann is uneducated as such but the levels of humor and specifically “The Queen of Rage” do (intellectuals and the educated consider extreme emotions prole-like and something disdainful).

But the question is “Does Michele Bachmann’s expression cause people concern or only when attention is brought to it?”

Bachmann on Science

Bachmann on Science
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Michele Bachmann is again speared as “not really with it” or “out of touch with reality”. The humor comes two ways; there’s the obvious cartooning and there’s also the amount of text that must be read in order to get the joke. This joke is geared towards intellectuals, people who are use to working to understand something, and people who appreciate subtlety. The theme is a variation on that used in One’s Crazy, One’s Acting Crazy. Guess Who’s Who! and is probably meant as an injoke to those already in the choir rather than to sway people on the fence.

Americans historically demonstrate prejudice along racial and ethnic lines while Europeans tend to demonstrate prejudice along class lines. This doesn’t mean America is without class boundaries or that such prejudices don’t exist, only that those boundaries are based on different concepts.

Each election cycle has some demonstrations of these prejudices. Here “Us versus Them” class prejudice and boundaries are demonstrated. Prejudice, bigotry and similar anti-social behaviors are usually indicators of distrust and fear with that distrust and fear based on historical injustices perpetrated by one group on the other group and those injustices being repaid when the other group ascends to equality.

For example, Group A historically subjugates Group B and makes only specific social roles available to Group B. Group B breaks out of subjugation and develops equality with Group A. Group A’s power and authority gone, it is replaced with fear and anxiety that past injustices will be repaid. Fear of retribution exists because human mentality easily accept that others will act as we act. This is often stated as “If I am a thief then you must steal.”

The flaw in such class conflicts is that class lines also usually indicate educational and experiential training lines. Upper class children have both greater and more diverse educational opportunities than do children from other classes regardless of academic performance. Being given $50k “to lose so you’ll learn the market” isn’t an opportunity given to many middle and lower class teenagers. The “Denim” are often incapable of self-government without help from the “Suits” because nothing in the Denim’s history prepares them to self-govern.

Monopoly Money

Monopoly Money

Politicians being out of touch with reality or at least out of touch with the electorate is demonstrated above as coin of the realm and monopoly money blend together. This simple graphic is another demonstration of intellectual appeal (see Bachmann on Science above). Understanding this image requires a good deal of common and experiential knowledge. It may also be a play along age lines as playing Monopoly on a board, et cetera, is becoming a thing of the past.

Political humor often focuses on finances and financial issues and usually demonstrating that those wanting office have nothing in common with those they govern. George H.W. Bush amazement at supermarket scanner technology was exaggerated to humorous proportions to demonstrate he was out of touch with the middle class. Mitt Romney’s $10k bet to Rick Perry is another example of whose wanting office to be out of touch with the electorate. This was further demonstrated when Romney claimed his challenge was the same as someone saying they’d bet a million dollars. Romney has been involved in financial structurings most of his adult life. His education and training cause him to conceptualize money differently than the middle and lower classes do, and he’s well aware of making intentional versus hyperbolic statements. NextStage demonstrates how people’s backgrounds affect their concepts and language around money at conferences and trainings with the “None-One-A lot-All” exercise.

I’ve been told that the Clinton administration’s economic and social booms were due to plans enacted during the Reagan and Bush1 administrations. But I’d not heard that the Obama administration’s troubles were inherited from Bush2 until we were sent this. Even so, it’s not something mentioned too often.

The above is another example of directed humor. It’ll more likely cause debate in some republican camps and laughter in others, anger in some democratic circles and sighs in others.

Emotions aside, how accurate is the sentiment demonstrated in the image?

Elizabeth Warren’s Alternative Social Contract

Elizabeth Warren's Alternative Social Contract
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Elizabeth Warren is going after MA Republican Senator Scott Brown’s seat. It was revealed that Scott Brown worked as a male model and the response was that Ms. Warren could not have worked as a model. Humor took over and the result is the above. An image of Elizabeth Warren’s actual social contract is also available.

There’s a lot of cultural subtlety working in the above. Us v Them, definitely, along with sexism on both sides. Is there a hint of Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling, of the attractive being unattractive and vice versa? Is there intellectualism versus uneducated? And which is which in both cases?

United Brands of America

united Brands of America

The above is a variation on the class warfare theme. America is no longer a country governed by people so much as a country ruled by corporations, hence an economic oligarchy and everyone having an equal voice no longer exists.

If the War on Poverty Were a Real War

If the War on Poverty Were a Real War

The above is another variation on class warfare themes. Here the statement is that there’s recognizable ROI building bombs and tanks and no recognizable ROI educating the impoverished.

The flaw in this reasoning is also indicative of the differences in class training and education as stated in Denim v Suits. The impoverished can be educated and that doesn’t guarantee financial success. The greatest indication of economic success is social networks and few of the impoverished have social networks indicative of economic success.

Jefferson and Banking

Jefferson and Banking
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Another variation on class warfare, this time appealing to a founding father for explanation and justification. These types of appeals are directed along class and social lines and are often intended to perpetuate the “Us versus Them” mindset. The message here is “We’re more American than They are”.

Such images and quotes are historically interesting (if valid) and also anachronistic. Banking in Jefferson’s time was very different from modern banking structures, policies and institutions. People may agree with his statements but the statements are no longer (as) relevant due to current laws.

Diapers and Politicians

Diapers and Politicians

The most powerful images tend to be from real life. No doctoring or image enhancement is necessary to understand this person’s feelings towards the current government. This graphic is also an example of providing context through image content. The type of sign, the framing supporting the sign, the marquee of a rental store run by a first-name person (sole owner, not a chain), the gray backgrounds, et cetera may convey both struggle and frustration, the text indicating what the struggle is about and who the frustration is with.

Chicken Motives

Chicken Motives

This image came in at the start of the Occupy movement and requires a sophisticated audience to 1) understand the humor and 2) figure out if its pro or anti Occupy. The simple color palette, font and size indicate a pro-Occupy author while the subtlety of the message indicate the author is anti-Occupy. Most Occupy protesters are college educated and this being anti-Occupy requires understanding the cynical double-entendres, something one can be taught but usually must experience to understand.

Broken Record

Broken Record
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The sheer number of graphics sent that deal with class issues is impressive. The above came in after the start of the Occupy movement. Here the simple palette and caricatures indicate a middle class, educated audience.

Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street

This image came in entitled “Occupy Wall Street” and is an attack on the media in the guise of class warfare via the use of an historical personage and quote. This quote may be more meaningful than Jefferson and Banking above and I’m not convinced Malcolm X’s comments were for the same purpose as Occupy’s. If so, the power of the message is lost in historic context.



A call to more recent history is the above Clinton image. There has been conjecture that Al Gore’s 2000 Presidential loss was due more to the country punishing Gore for Clinton’s activities in office than anything Gore said or did himself. This image mocks any concerns of Clinton’s activities with “…and a little something on the side.”

Are a collapsing economy and multiple conflicts the price of executive office fellatio? And if the above conjecture is valid, who’s being punished now?

George Carlin on Social Classes

George Carlin on Social Classes
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An interesting variation on the appeals to history and authority is this image of George Carlin. Note that this is also an example of a targeted audience. Not everyone remembers George Carlin nor is everyone aware of his intellect, wit and humor, nor will everyone appreciate it.

God Hates

God Hates
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American citizenship is one of the most difficult, challenging things to do. To be an American citizen means to defend to your death the right of someone you hate to publicly state something you believe completely unconscionable.

Especially if they would not accord you that same right.

Thus an afterlife correction is offered. This is another example of multi-layered humor. The people being mocked tend to believe they will be rewarded in some afterlife. Here we are told that they’re not only wrong here, they’re wrong there and their reward isn’t sure.

Here patriotism enters the class warfare theme. The war analogy of “Us versus Them” is made very clear in this image. Again, context provides a great deal of meaning to the message. Occupy protesters all wear common clothing (no designer fashions here) and their messages are written in hand on cardboard.

Freedom of Assembly

Freedom of Assembly

Another image in response to the Occupy movement that calls on patriotism. The call this time is to a fundamental American right, the right of assembly. Americans cherish their rights even though few can name them, are unaware when their rights are infringed unless it is obvious and personal, nor are the majority willing to defend their rights when their rights are applied to others as noted in God Hates.

Future Generations

Future Generations
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The American political system allows single issues to dominate election cycles, although I’m not completely sure if it’s the american system or Americans themselves that allow single issue domination. Single issues tend to be polarizing issues such as abortion, same sex marriages and often are Us versus Them arguments masked as other concerns.

People often miss the core concern of environmental and energy pleas. It’s illogical to cry “Save the Earth”. The earth’s been around for some five billion years and probably will be around another five billion. Saving something essentially immortal is a fruitless task, however this type of misdirection of effort insures little effort will be applied in the general populace.

If people recognize that calls to save the environment, energy, the whales, snail darters, et cetera, are actually calls to save ourselves from destruction more action will be taken. Recent changes in global weather patterns and an increase in severe weather systems are causing more awareness in the general population although all but the most drastic action may be too late. In short, don’t waste time saving the earth, save ourselves.

People have been around at best for some seven million years and in our present form for some 350,000 years, probably much less. It’s doubtful anything we do will affect the earth as a planet in a solar system in a galaxy, there’s increasing evidence what we do affects our ability to survive in the environment we’re creating.

Bring Back Arrested Development

Bring Back Arrested Development

Here a single issue is played for laughs. It is said that one of Obama’s strengths is his ability to be a common person, a man of the people who shares their concerns. The demonstration of this is that he plays basketball — a common game both familiar and available to most people — to release tension.

Not My Backyard

Not My Backyard
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America’s (and perhaps the World’s) energy future is another single issue item. The arguments that we have an endless supply of oil and gas are illogical at best. The earth is only so large, the places where fossil fuels form only so many and the depth that fossil fuels can form only so deep, therefore the supply is limited. Civilizations will come and go. The current civilization can only maintain itself for so long at its present energy and caloric consumption rates. Waiting too long to develop alternative resources equates to a different civilization being in place when what is now considered “alternative” becomes the only choice.


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Here class warfare takes center stage. Again, meaning is increased by context. The middle class is in the gutter, groaning and beaten down, his face unseen therefore unknown, one of the masses. The other character is symbolized with a “$” sign (upper class? business?) and is a “fat cat” in contrast to the middle class character. The $ character overreacts to the middle class character’s groan, perhaps assuming anything and everything is a threat.

What is the cartoonist conveying about political and social realities? Where do the cartoonist’s sympathies lie and why? How do you know?


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A variant on Capitalism above and again the populace pays the price for government and banking excess. This image makes use of mirroring; the only character facing the audience is the center “Citizens” and he is straining supporting the economy while banks pick his pockets and governments rests on his efforts. The mirroring and centering is a non-conscious signal to the audience regarding who to sympathize with and who is viewpoint character. Who is this image targeted to? Is it a viable message for that target audience?

Coming Money Trust

Coming Money Trust
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Sometimes people look long and hard for an image that speaks their feelings, especially when their feelings are shared and at the extremes of the emotional spectrum. This image made the rounds in mid-October 2011 but was originally published in 1912. The belief that government is prey to big business is an old concern.



Personal finances are a common electorate concern and this election cycle is no exception. This image is another example of class warfare, Us versus Them with banking — quickly becoming synonymous with corrupt government and big business — as the target.

Occupy Wall Street 3

Occupy Wall Street 3
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Class warfare with media as the dupes of big business, ala the Occupy movement.

There are flaws in the reasoning that produced this image. People are using mobile devices for information over any other channel and you can only increase screen resolution so much on mobile devices. The subtlety of this message misses the audience most likely to respond to it because it isn’t designed for the devices that audience uses most.

Occupy Wall Street 4

Occupy Wall Street 4

NextStage uses several metrics when analyzing social communications (these images all qualify as social communications). One of these metrics deals with how often a given sentiment is communicated within a given time period; a message’s significance to a given population is directly proportional to the number of times it is communicated by that population. A message may be very important and unless it is communicated often it isn’t recognized as important. Something that is communicated often in a given time period has higher social significance.

Occupy messages started to pile up in late Oct 2011 and became a recurring thread, hence the Occupy movement resonated with a recognizably large percentage of the populace.

As with Occupy Wall Street 2, the message is personal.

I’m Bachmann

I'm Bachmann

Michele Bachmann was a favorite and recurring target among specific demographics. What demographics are demonstrated by the cultural reference to the Batman movies and the work involved in creating the image?

It’s Funny Because It’s True!

It's Funny Because It's True!
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Herman Cain’s past did what he prophesied early in his campaign; he claimed that a big bullseye would be on his back as his popularity climbed.

Some people asked “How come these women are coming forward now? And with no desire for remuneration?” and seemed to miss that some of accusations were filed in the 1990s. It has derailed his presidential bid but the derailing isn’t based on something unknown or new.

Does Cain still have a future in politics? Or was he just another “Not Mitt” of the week? Can he be a king or queen maker or has he lost all credibility?

I Can Count to Three

I Can Count to Three

Rick Perry offered a counterpoint to Herman Cain’s travails when Perry’s memory lapsed in several public situations. Perry came onto the electoral scene late and in doing so made a splash. That splash was announced by news media worldwide and caused us some wonder; Any new thing will cause focused attention for some (usually brief) time period. This attention focusing for a brief time period was quite obvious in the “Anybody but Mitt” Republican party.

But what does Perry’s repeated memory lapses reveal? Bush2 was asked if he could identify four political leaders on the world stage during one of his campaigns and he turned the question back on his interviewer, “Can you?”

What do we expect from our leaders? Do we want supermen (and women) in office? Superman so longed to be with people of his own kind that he kept Kandor, a city of them, bottled up in his Fortress of Solitude. Despite how Kandor came to be, the psychological implications of peers miniaturized, bottled and kept hidden away (in what amounts to a basement, perhaps a “super” man-cave is a better description?) is significant. Superman’s family was Kryptonian upperclass although he was raised by the Kents, humble middle-America farmers. Forget the Superman-Clark Kent identify crisis, his psyche was cursed to deal with impostor syndrome from the beginning.

Only people with incredible egos will self-identify as being able to govern others because the definition of government is to know what is best for the majority even when that majority disagrees with or fails to recognize what is best (Georgia’s Lyman Hall supposedly said “They did not elect me to do what they think is best. They elected me to do what I think is best.”). Self-identifying as being able to lead and make decisions for others indicates a belief in some form of superiority to them.

So the question is “Do the majority of Americans want their peers or their superiors in office?” And if the latter, can Americans be upset when their superiors legislate first for superior needs? Are most Americans able or willing to recognize that by voting for someone they have demonstrated a belief that whomever they voted for is superior to them?

Cain’s Problems

Cain's Problems

Targeting of Cain increased as more accusers revealed themselves. What do the color palette and language indicate about audience? Does Cain’s expression in the image play to any specific fears? Does the language play to any specific beliefs?

In response to Obama releasing his long form Birth Certificate, John McCain put his out as a show of good faith

In response to Obama releasing his long form Birth Certificate, John McCain put his out as a show of good faith

Obama began recognizable campaign swings through previously undecided states in mid November 2011. A result of his recognizable campaign activity was an attempt to short-circuit previous Republican accusations, the most obvious and long-lived of them being the validity of his birth certificate.

Is this joke directed at Obama supporters, opponents or both?

This image is another example of context. Fox News often attacked Obama while giving Republican and Tea Party spokespeople a broad podium. This image mocks Fox on several levels and most obviously by juxtaposing the incorrect headline with the announcer’s expression. It’s also worth noting that this image made the rounds with the above title, an indication of the intended audience. Experience, education and intellect are required to appreciate Faux-Fox.

This from the White house on Fox News’s Blunder

This from the White house on Fox News's Blunder

The above came in simultaneously to Stay Classy Faux News. It is an audience specific image and like Stay Classy Faux News requires education and intellect to appreciate fully.

On Trump and Obama

On Trump and Obama
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The pro-Obama images started pouring in once he started making recognizable campaign swings and speeches. This image can polarize audiences into pro- and anti-Obama camps based on their pre-existing political beliefs. However, another possible take requires wit and sophistication; the event described is something some audience members believe to be true yet doubt they will ever be able to prove.

Technically he did know on Friday that he signed the order…just saying folks

Technically he did know on Friday that he signed the order…just saying folks
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Black humor is often employed in politics and usually along Us versus Them lines with the lines conforming to social networks, specifically Insider versus Outsider. Here Obama is an Insider to specific knowledge while the rest of us and those in the audience are Outsiders, hence is Obama laughing at the obvious joke, at the unintentional faux pas at the podium or is he demonstrating an “I know something you don’t know” smirk at those around him?

Truth in Advertising

Truth in Advertising

The above image is similar to On Trump and Obama in several ways. It’s targeting a specific audience, requires wit and sophistication and describes something the targeted audience members believe to be true even if unable to prove.

I Thought That Sounded Familiar…

I Thought That Sounded Familiar...

Cain is Simpsonized. His immortality is assured.

Seems Like a Viable Alternative This Time Around

Seems Like a Viable Alternative This Time Around

This image is a call to the past although I’m unsure if it’s a call to a past authority. This image was entitled Seems Like a Viable Alternative This Time Around, perhaps demonstrating frustration with available candidates.

More interesting (as usual) is the content in context. This image includes “Seek Attack Destroy”, “May death come swiftly to his enemies” and a faux-American flag. These elements combine with the limited color palette and indicate a frustrated, possibly angry humor at work. Nixon as a robot complete with Presidential emblem chest shield (an allusion to super heroes’ costumes) are all calls to a superior being. Here the limited color palette may be indicating a binary decision style, an either-or mentality, with Nixon symbolizing a ruthless, avenging personality. Appeals to binary decision styles occur when people seek absolute truths from an absolute authority (such is fanaticism, religious and otherwise).

No, I Don’t Want to Ask the Audience

No, I Don't Want to Ask the Audience

The above and following images came in while I was putting this post together. The Bush2 presidency may be the most controversial in history to date. It caused long time friendships to dissolve and strange alliances to form. This image and I F*cked You All indicate Bush2 and his presidency will be emotional lightning rods much like Clinton, Kennedy, Nixon and their presidencies. Earlier presidencies had as much if not more challenges but these remain in walking memory (living people have direct experience of them) so their emotional baggage is still heavy.

Seems About Right…

Seems About Right...

It’s not just presidential candidates who are humor’s targets.



This image is audience directed in several ways. John Stewart (as noted in One’s Crazy, One’s Acting Crazy. Guess Who’s Who!) is a well known personality and (to many) a respected journalist who specializes in humor. He’s also recognized as erudite, intellectual and a wit. His writers are also adept at focusing on what others don’t want the public to look at.

This image mocks the Bush2 administration’s decision not to show the horrors of war, something the Johnson administration realized too late.

This image could also be masking the question “Does government want an informed electorate?” Would Americans turn as quick a blind eye to waterboarding if there was no 911? Also, do Americans — and especially those elected few who make such decisions — recognize that by allowing and encouraging such things to occur they have agreed to be subject to such things themselves? If person A attacks person B, person A tacitly acknowledges that they, too, are subject to attack (even if that attack doesn’t come as retaliation from person B). If I, even as a citizen, allow waterboarding to occur I am agreeing to be waterboarded at some point in time.

From the WSJ

“Republican political figure and tea-party favorite Christine O’Donnell says she’s backing Mitt Romney’s presidential bid,” the Associated Press reports:
O’Donnell cites executive experience as part of her reason for endorsing Romney. She announced her decision Tuesday night during an interview on Fox News Channel.

O’Donnell may be best known nationally for a campaign commercial in which she declared “I’m not a witch,” a response to a statement she’d made years earlier in which she said she’d dabbled in witchcraft.

It may be that that ad wasn’t true. After all, if O’Donnell isn’t a witch, who turned Romney’s chief opponent into a Newt?

This is another example of a targeted audience. The joke requires cultural and historic knowledge to appreciate fully.

But Will They Play Well in Peoria?

(Skip the explanation and jump to the political stuff)

Caveat Lector: This post is going to be full of numbers and science. It’s about the psychology of political candidates and their likelihood of success within certain US geographic populations. Here that likelihood is determined by analyzing and comparing the cognitive, behavioral/effective and motivational factors of the candidates to those of the populations in various geographic regions. Collectively these cognitive, behavioral/effective and motivational factors are called the {C,B/e,M} matrix. NextStage calls them RichPersonae for marketing purposes. If you’ve ever encountered things like “ISTP”, “INTJ”, “ESFP” or “ENFP” you get the idea. You can learn more in the links below.

For those new to Politics2012, this blog is about politics as marketing, about how something is said being more important than what is said, and as one NextStage client said, “NextStage turns marketing into a science”. Here we turn that scientific eye on politics.

And So We Begin…

Hello and sorry for being away for so long. We’ve been busily at work and we hope you’ll enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Our 2004 and 2008 election cycle posts included geographic-based success information, as in where, geographically, would the candidates be successful and do well. We’ve not been including that in this cycle because of we’ve been upgrading the part of our core technology that reports such things.

Last week, though, we released our NextStage SampleMatch Tool. NextStage SampleMatch currently analyzes people’s online behavior in over 70 countries and some 1,200 individual locations. SampleMatch is designed to answer one question and one question only. Metaphorically, that question is “Will it play well in Peoria?” and NextStage SampleMatch answers that question by segmenting a given geographic audience’s cognitive, behavioral and motivational factors — the “{C,B/e,M} matrix” — into 144 distinct categories (NextStage’s RichPersonae). That “144” is unique to the United States, Canada, Great Britain and much of Australia. Western Europe brings the total up to 225 and that number increases as you move east through Europe and into Asia, south through Africa and so on.

People’s decision making, behaviors and ways of thinking are, to a very large degree, regionally influenced. You can find individuals in New Hampshire who think, make decisions and behave very much like individuals in South Carolina, true, but taken as entire populations, the people in New Hampshire and the people in South Carolina think differently.

In fact, the people in New Hampshire are a pretty diverse bunch from a decision making, behavioral and thinking perspective. There are 45 distinct RichPersonae and the four largest are A14, A6, K9 and V14 respectively (notice that they are different designations? We’ll explain what some of them mean further down). The good folks in South Carolina are also diverse although not as much so, with only 33 distinct RichPersonae, the two dominating are A3 and A6. What’s very much worth knowing is that the number of people included in those four New Hampshire listings is a smaller percentage of NH’s entire population than those two South Carolina segments, 32.7% New Hampshire versus 37.8% South Carolina. From a creating content (designing marketing) perspective, it’s easier to create content that will appeal to a combined A3A6 population than it is to create content for a combined A14A6K9V14 population because A3s and A6s have much more in common than do A14s, A6s, K9s and V14s.

Lessons from Marketing

What we’ve learned from marketing and advertising is that you need to communicate to people in the way they think if you want to persuade them to do something you want them to do. Do you want them to buy your cars? Then you need to let them know you understand them and their needs, share their wants, desires and values, have had similar experiences and lives to them. The same holds true if you want them to buy your soap, milk, perfume, razors, shoes, pork chops, …

The easiest and simplest way to demonstrate shared experience, values, et cetera, is to talk the way your target audience talks, act they way they act, look the way they look, do what they do and — you got it — think the way they think. If you walk, act, look and do what they do you’ve already mirrored them behaviorally and decision-making wise. Learning how people are thinking, making decisions and behaving is what NextStage’s SampleMatch Tool is all about. You can, for example, get an idea of how the world thinks, behaves and makes decisions via NextStage’s SampleMatch’s World Report.

Where Marketing Turns Political

The political question that arises from this is relatively simple to solve; If we know how the candidates think, make decisions and behave, can we determine where, geographically, they’re most likely to succeed with the electorate?

We think yes and offer the following exploration.

Do They Ever Change Their Tune?

The Republican Presidential candidates have been traveling across the country in the past few months to take part in various debates. But who were they talking to in these different locations? The people in the audience? The viewing television audience? The moderators? Perhaps each other?

Let’s consider this alphabetically, starting with Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. In the 13 June 11 New Hampshire debate she demonstrated a V13 RichPersona. She demonstrated the same V13 RichPersona during 7 Aug 11 Iowa debate, the 12 Sep 11 Florida debate, the 22 Sep 11 Florida debate, the 11 Oct 11 New Hampshire debate and the 18 Oct 11 Nevada debate. That’s very consistent and if you like that kind of personality you should vote for her. Main elements of the V13 RichPersona include

  • These people are moved by what they see
  • They readily act upon information which directs their attention to present problems and challenges
  • They largely ignore appeals to past or future events when forming opinions
  • They are happiest when they have something to do

But, as stated above, the question is “How many people is Michele Bachmann really reaching?” …really reaching… means more than people showing up at her rallies and such, it means people who are moved by her deeply enough to vote for her when they know their vote is going to be counted.

V13 RichPersona don't score well in the USIn the US as a whole there are 48 distinct RichPersonae active as I write this (24 Oct 11). Of those 48, V13 ranks #40 with 0.14% of the population. Iowa has 11 distinct RichPersonae and none of them are V13. Ditto Florida (24 distinct RichPersonae), New Hampshire and Nevada (15 distinct RichPersonae). We can cast our net a little wider by increasing our search to the “close to but not exact” matches — V12 and V14 in this case — and come up with US at 11.8%, Iowa at 5.41%, Florida at 16.25%, New Hampshire at 8.35% and Nevada at 9.76% (guess there are a lot of mid-range V RichPersonae in Nevada).

That Florida spike comes from adding V14s into the mix. Some V14 characteristics are

  • These people are strongly motivated by what they see
  • They are success oriented
  • Presentations with emotions must be positive in nature
  • They make decisions based on what feels “right”, “correct” or “best”

Are you from Florida? Does that describe you or people you know?

But what’s important to note for the purposes of this analysis is that Michele Bachmann has thus far not changed her tune regardless of where she’s been or who she’s been with.

Bachmann and Cain would work amazingly well togetherHerman Cain starts out as V13 and stays there throughout all the debates. Again, great consistency. Not sure it will serve him well although it does indicate he and Congresswoman Bachmann could politically partner up and do well together. In fact, NextStage’s Compatibility Gauge gives them an incredible 96% compatibility rating. The only challenge to this pairing might be Cain dominating the conversation and having to be reminded to let Bachmann talk once in a while.

K13s also don't fare wellNewt Gingrich demonstrated a V13 RichPersona in the first New Hampshire debate and Iowa, a K13 early in September, a V9 in late September and returned to a V13 in both the second New Hampshire debate and Nevada. We already know how V13 plays in the US, Iowa, Florida, New Hampshire and Nevada from the above. K13 gets 0.05% of the US, 0% of Iowa, 0% of Florida, 0.15% of New Hampshire and 0% in Nevada, V9 gets 2.53% US, 0% Iowa, 0.83% Florida, 3.19% New Hampshire and 0% Nevada. Widening our search as we did with Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich’s K13 Tampa demonstration picks up 4.27% US, remains at 16.22% in Iowa, 1.67% Florida, 7.15% New Hampshire and 3.66% Nevada, V9 brings him 2.95% US, 0% Iowa, 0.83% Florida, 4.23% New Hampshire and 0% Nevada.

What causes that spike in Iowa? Widening our search from K13 to K12, K13 and K14 brings in the largest single behavioral segment in Iowa, K14. What are K14 people like?

  • learn most rapidly when allowed to experience it directly
  • enjoy being shown how to do things provided they can take an active part in whatever’s being shown or demonstrated to them
  • often require a follow-up discussion to an activity in order to cement the learning
  • make decisions easily when they involve physical activity

Are you from Iowa and does that describe you or the people you know?

V9s pick up some energy from outlyersThe problem with computing any kind of likely following with a tune-changing candidate is exactly that — their tune changes from place to place. Such tune changing wouldn’t have mattered much in the days of pre-internet campaigning because mass media was limited to three networks and print, journalistic standards were different and people weren’t forced into attention deficit states by a 24×7 information deluge. Now anyone and everyone has a voice and who you pay attention to depends greatly on what you already believe to be true. Opinions matter more than facts, it seems, and a minor misstep in Oregon butterflies via YouTube, Twitter and blogs to massive opinion earthquakes in Georgia. In any case, Newt, as of this writing, doesn’t have much of a chance.

K9s also don't fare wellJohn Huntsman went from K13 to K9 to V13 as he traveled about. K9 gone wide garnishes 3.22% US, 0% Iowa, 2.5% Florida, 8.96% New Hampshire and 2.44% Nevada.

We’ll see other candidates shifting RichPersonae from place to place, as well. There are many reasons such shifting can happen and when it happens to someone late to the table I start to wonder if it’s an indication of someone attempting to define themselves. Not offering this as the case, only an question for readers to explore.

Congressman Ron Paul also started as V13 and stayed that way save the 22 Feb 11 Orlando debate where he shifted to V9 for the night. Both of these RichPersonae are covered in the above and again, shifts, even minor ones, can weaken an already electorally weak candidate. A candidate demonstrating one RichPersona at the start of the campaign, shifting and remaining at another one would be acceptable to the electorate and might even cause a lift in the polls, but a shift out, away and back again might be considered pandering.

K5 does well in Iowa and nowhere elseRick Perry is V13 at the early September TeaParty debate, K5 in Orlando, back to V13 in New Hampshire and K13 at the Nevada slugfest. A wide K5 brings him 0.87% US, 16.22% Iowa, 1.67% Florida, 2.04% New Hampshire and 0% Nevada.

Note the strong Iowa showing? That’s due to “going wide”. K5 and K6 are the fifth and sixth largest psychological demographics in Iowa at 8.11% of the online population each. This “going wide” is an example of upleveling your message to get a larger audience.

Instead of focusing on the K13 audience and picking up K14 (recognizing you’ll lose a bit of that because the message isn’t exactly K14ish), you could uplevel your message to address similarities in the K5 and K6 RichPersonae. Done properly this would allow you to pick up K4 through K7. Recognize that each upleveling means your message will reach a larger audience and elements of that larger audience will respond with requests that you perfect your message exactly for them.

K5s are

  • These people have a basic negative attitude towards life
  • They base decisions on an intuitive sense of what is “wrong” or “bad” or “incorrect”
  • They make decisions which they hope will get them away from dissatisfying situations rather than ones which will get them closer to positive situations
  • They can be influenced by images of problem situations which will directly affect them

K6s are

  • These people live in the moment
  • They make decisions based on an intuitive sense of what is “good” or “right” or “correct”
  • They learn lessons based on positive emotional experiences
  • They are very physical about and when describing their experience

How do you uplevel these two? Appeal to emotions and intuitive problem solving, liberally sprinkled with descriptions of themselves in problem situations. Make sure those descriptions are very visceral in nature.

Mitt Romney starts out V13 in New Hampshire and Iowa, goes K13 in Tampa and returns to V13 for the rest of the debates (to date).

That leaves Rick Santorum who starts out V13 in New Hampshire, follows Mitt Romney into K13dom in Tampa and V13 in the rest of the debates (to date).

Who Played to Their Audience?

House Speaker Tip O’Neill once said “All politics is local” and investigating that we ask “Were the politicians playing to the studio audiences?”

The 13 June 2011 New Hampshire debate audience was Kish by a 5:3 margin, meaning the majority of people came literally to see the candidates first hand, to experience them as close to one-on-one as possible while letting them remain presidential. However, all the candidates demonstrated V13 RichPersona. The only other notably V13 RichPersonae present was the CNN moderator, John King. Thus, at least in the first New Hampshire debate, the candidates played to the moderator, not to the immediate audience or the nation at large (the largest single RichPersona in the US is V3 at 14.31%).

The Iowa audience was evenly divided between As and Vs, so the only candidate who could not leave a mark on the immediate audience was Huntsman who demonstrated a K13 RichPersona that night.

Tampa’s studio audience was overwhelmingly dominated by K13 RichPersona. This could be the first time the candidates played to the audience because Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum all demonstrated that same K13 RichPersona. All the other candidates stuck to their V13 guns. They may have reached some in the audience but not the majority of the audience and not deeply enough to leave a mark.

Orlando is where we see the candidates hitting their “matching the audience” stride, as it were. The Orlando audience was V13, thus Bachmann, Cain, Huntsman, Perry, Romney and Santorum made their marks. Gingrich and Paul opted for V9 RichPersona so perhaps they were talking to each other?

Back in New Hampshire the candidates are all in step and singing the same song (regardless of their campaign differences); they’re all V13s and this time, the studio audience being based out of Hanover and Dartmouth College, they got a fairly homogeneous audience that was also largely V13s. Someone designed this debate from the audience up to make sure everything came out good.

Now to Nevada. Everybody in the room was V13 except Rick Perry and the audience. Both Rick Perry and the studio audience were K13 and strongly so.

Was it inevitable that Romney and Perry would clash? Nothing’s inevitable, at least we hope so when it comes to how our possible presidents behave under pressure.

Romney and Perry were going to get along 50/50 at bestThat noted, Romney and Perry were approximately 50% compatible that evening (as determined by NextStage’s Compatibility Gauge). There were other debates where the candidates RichPersonae could have caused conflict, why openly so in Nevada?

The answer could be due to the audience’s collectively strong K13 RichPersona. Have you ever seen a stage or concert performer get juiced by their audience, their performance goes up because they are so emotionally and psychologically in sync with their audience? That could be what happened here. Perry was spurred on by the audience’s sympatico K13 RichPersona.

However — and excuse the editorial comment — I’d prefer a President who responds to the situation and not the populace’s charismatic flow.

That noted, what did NextStage’s Compatibility Gauge determine would happen?

  • Dominance games will break out at some point in time, probably instigated by Romney
  • It’s quite likely Perry will consider Romney assertive to the point of being aggressive
  • There will be clash of wills or agendas at some point and probably early in the discussion/negotiation

But What About Peoria?

Well, no, nobody is going to do well in Peoria. That part of the country is overwhelmingly V6 with 33.33% of the population reporting. What makes a V6 a V6?

  • They need information in pictures, charts and graphs
  • These people tend to keep their own counsel although they will listen to others
  • They are swayed by statements and/or arguments of what is going right, right now
  • They base decisions on what might happen right now rather than what might happen later on

Sorry, there ain’t nobody in the Republican field singing their song.


NextStage made accurate predictions months ahead of others in previous election cycles using the following criteria:

  • Matching candidate RichPersona to geographic RichPersona
  • Determining which candidates were communicating to the largest gender segments
  • Determining which candidates were communicating to the largest age segments
  • The relative and individual strengths of the candidates’ presidential messaging

Much of this information is contained in NextStage’s Political Analysis Tool. This post focuses on whether or not the candidates can sing the voting population’s song.

We hope you enjoyed it.

And whether you did or didn’t, please go out and vote.

Links for this post:

Raising the Debt Ceiling is Irrelevant if We Don’t Stop Spending More than We Earn

We’ve talked with several people over the past week and all agree on a few things:

  • Everyone should be voted out of office
  • Legislators are only interested in the debt situation to the extent that they can act without getting blamed for anything
  • No matter what they do, it won’t work
  • Raising the debt ceiling isn’t the same as asking for a higher credit limit on your credit cards because people don’t raise their credit limit in order to borrow money to pay off their credit card debt, which is what the government is doing
  • (And a true universal regardless of any other considerations) Raising the debt ceiling is irrelevant if we don’t stop spending more than we earn

It’s worth noting that the last item above often is closely followed by “And xxxx them if they think they’re going to raise my taxes to do it!” One fellow, enjoying an ice cream cone at one of our favorite icecreameries located in Amherst, NH, was very eloquent in describing why things will get worse for different groups, specifically armed forces, welfare, medicare and medicaid recipients, retirees, students, … The list was quite extensive and none of them will be paid, receive their benefits, get their medicine, meet their tuition bills, … Mail won’t be delivered, border crossings will be unguarded and you get the gest.

I have no idea how accurate any of it was, only that the opinions were quite strong and all in one direction regardless of political affiliation — Get Them Out!

Many readers know we maintain a joke list and that it’s a very eclectic crew who contribute. That recognized, when we start receiving things like this as jokes:

What we should really be concerned about regarding the debt

you know people are paying attention.

Our opinion (and based on nothing except history) was that some kind of compromise would be in place before midnightET, 2 Aug 11 (just checked and it seems to be there) and for one reason and one reason only — nobody currently in office wants to face an election with anything but a “victory” hanging over their heads.

What’s a “victory” in this case? Grandma got her meds, Private Lee got his paycheck, Uncle Harry got his social security check, Aunt Betty got her … You get the idea.

But it gets better. Some kind of compromise will be in place and it won’t actually solve anything, merely prolong everything. It’s more than the astronomically partisan Washington culture, it’s that nobody wants to lead (it seems to us). Any attempt at leadership is the equivalent of placing a bullseye on your back and the current Washington metaphysic is to knock things down rather than build things up. Great if you’re in the salvage business and not if you’re running a government (do I repeat myself?).

So why was the deal reached?

Because the last thing anybody wants is a angry population pointing their finger at everybody in office.

What amazes me most is that with all the money the government spends, you’d think they’d put some aside for good marketing/PR.

Ah, but to do that right, you’d need everybody singing the same song and that requires at least harmony if not sharing lead vocals once in a while.

Right now there are two if not three governments; Democratic, Republican and Tea Party. Statements coming out of Washington over the past few weeks seem to follow closely the adage about psycho-social distance as demonstrated by personal pronouns; I’m steadfast, you’re stubborn, he/she/they are too stupid to know any better.

In any case, here we analyze some speeches and collected statements from Boehner (25 July 2011 and 1 Aug 2011), Obama (25 July 2011 and 1 Aug 2011) and Reid (1 Aug 2011) with various tools to determine who’s thinking what and who wants you to believe what. (Readers, feel free to send us pointers to other speeches and excerpts from various government folks. We’re genuinely curious what these folks are thinking about things right now. Aren’t you?)

Do They Believe What They’re Saying?

First, we used NextStage’s Political Analyzer (and check out the new center image graphics supplied by Skolenimation‘s John Scullin. They gave us a hoot) to get a Confidence-BlueSky read on what these notables have been saying.

Basically, nobody has much confidence in what they’re doing, what they’re saying, that anything will get done or that things will be better. John Boehner was being very careful (low BS level) in what he was saying and as of yesterday (1 Aug 2011) both Boehner and President Obama don’t think any amount of fact-checking is going to be useful. Most amusing is Harry Reid’s amazingly low Confidence value, literally -100%. We rarely see anything that extreme.

Who’s Willing to Be a Good Corporate Citizen?

NextStage's Resume Rater tool helps companies and individuals know who they should hireHere we used NextStage’s Resume Rater to determine who’s willing to work with others to get this done (along with other work related qualities).

Is anyone surprised that the only area where government leadership is above average is “Requires Supervision”? By the way and just to be clear on the point, the supervision required needs to come from voters, nobody else.

What Kind of People Are They?

NextStage Compatibility GaugeAlso from NextStage’s Resume Rater comes a determination of the individual’s psychological makeup, their drivers and motivators. This information can also be learned from NextStage’s PersonaScope Tool (although in much greater detail). What we learn is:

  • Reid 110801 – K11
    • Makes final decisions based on negative outcomes in the recent past
    • Is convinced by arguments which invoke a memory of a past failure or unpleasurable experience
    • Makes decisions based on first hand experiences
    • Prefers to get involved and be hands-on, especially in group situations, although he will rarely take on a leadership role
  • Obama 110725 – V9
    • Is moved by what he sees
    • Is drawn to the negative of things
    • Tends to be process oriented
    • Tend to be confused by “what if this happens?” type of questions
  • Obama 110801 – V13
    • Is moved by what he sees
    • Readily acts upon information which directs his attention to present problems and challenges
    • Largely ignores appeals to past or future events when forming opinions
    • Is happiest when he has something to do
  • Boehner 110725 – V13 (see above)
  • Boehner 110801 – V9 (see above)

I can’t help but be amused by this. Obama started communicating like Boehner and Boehner started communicating like Obama. No wonder a deal was struck.

Who’s Doing Politics As Usual?

We switch back to NextStage’s Political Analyzer to determine who’s simply doing politics as usual. This is determined by seeing which of the nine political messages are greatly varied from the norm as documented elsewhere in this blog.

There are several items noteworthy here.

Both Obama and Boehner are thinking more about their electability in future races as today’s deadline approached than they were a week ago, and while both have Visions only Obama’s Vision for the Country is strengthened by the compromise, Boehner’s is weakened.

Very interesting are the jumps in both Obama’s and Boehner’s Listening versus “Listening to You” values. Obama is paying less attention to the voters than he was a week ago while Boehner is paying more attention to what other members of Congress and the Senate are saying than what the people are saying, perhaps due to his need to create some kind of compromise the Republicans and the Tea Party subgroup will get behind.

The great variation here is in John Boehner’s “I Am a Man of the People” value, at 100%. It is rare that that message dominates. Granted, the “I Can Leader Us to a Better Place” is 96%, simply not 100% which is what one would expect.

The answer is found in the “I Am Leadership Material” change over one week’s time. For “Man of the People” to be that strong while Leadership Material drops ten points and all other messages remain the we can guess that Boehner believes he acted in the best interests of his congressional peers (if not the voters) and by doing so, he (self-image wise) gave up some of his leadership ethos.

Would You Hire Them Based on Their Resumes?

This post is based on Dr. Rick Lent’s Can Politicians Learn from Business Leaders? post about how politicians — who must be good business people to manage a winning campaign — turn into such political {insert epithet of choice} once they get into office and have to manage government.

His post got me to thinking about how some candidates would fare if their campaign sites were resumes and we really were hiring them for a specific job. I mean, we are hiring them in a very real sense. That’s what elections are, the US’s HR department deciding which of several candidates (literally) gets the job. We can also fire them via recalls, re-elections, impeachment, voting them out of office, … and the common people need some uncommonly horrific things to happen to them individually before any but the least of these to take place.

NextStage's Resume Rater tool helps companies and individuals know who they should hireI know, you’re shocked to learn that NextStage has a specific tool to determine if someone is job-worthy or not, The NextStage Resume Rater.

Here the websites of Michele Bachmann, Barack Obama, Sarah Palin, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney are analyzed as if they were resumes and we, the people, had to hire them for the job of US President.

Green Pile/Red Pile

The “Green Pile/Red Pile” is the first defense of most hirers and HR people. Basically, “Does the resume make it past a first glance?” If yes, it goes in the Green Pile, if no, it goes in the Red Pile.

Both Michele Bachmann’s and Barack Obama’s websites rate a 50/50 in an HR Green Pile/Red Pile analysis. NextStage’s Resume Rater indicates “This would be a good candidate for an entry level position (in all fairness, most resumes end up in this block regardless of experience or ability because people don’t know how to write a good resume).”

Sarah Palin’s site on 15 Jul 2011 is 25% Green, 75% Red, getting a simple “Pass on this one” evaluation from NextStage’s Resume Rater.

Ron Paul gets a 66.67% Green, 33.33% Red, netting Congressman Paul a “You should interview this one and have whoever will manage them conduct an interview early on as they may be a management problem.” Hmm…I wonder if the GOP feels that way about Congressman Paul.

Lastly, Mitt Romney’s website gets a 100% Red Pile “Stay away from this one” response.

Worker Qualities

Just as businesses have Ten Must Marketing Messages and candidates have Nine Political Marketing Messages, so job applicants have six messages (or “Worker Qualities”) they must communicate to land a job. These six messages are

  • They’re able to help
  • They work well with others
  • They don’t require lots of supervision
  • They’re reliable
  • They’re trustworthy
  • They’re competent

So, how did our five candidates fair?

While none of the candidates are demonstrating much of an ability to help an employer, only Ron Paul stands out as having desirable qualities otherwise. All have slightly above average ability (the blue line) to work well with others and Ron Paul scores 100% in this category. Only Ron Paul requires about the same supervision as the average job applicant, all others require more than average. None are particularly reliable except Ron Paul (who literally scores off the chart in this category). All are less trustworthy than the average job applicant save (again) Ron Paul (who is above average), and while Barack Obama is the most competent of the rest and none of them are as competent as the average job applicant, Ron Paul is at least twice as competent as any of the rest.

Confidence and BlueSky

Which candidate has the most confidence? Who's inflating their resume the most?

Michele Bachmann is the least confident job applicant, Ron Paul the most. According to NextStage’s Resume Rater

  • Michele Bachmann – This is not a very good score.
  • Barack Obama – This is not a very good score.
  • Sarah Palin – This is not a very good score.
  • Ron Paul – This is an excellent score.
  • Mitt Romney – no comment made.

Personality Type

What kinds of workers will these individuals be? Will their personalities fit in with their workmates? Here we see that each candidate is communicating to a slightly different audience (co-workers)

  • Michele Bachmann – V10 Rich Persona. Key features of their {C,B/e,M} include:
    • These people tend to talk (either with themselves or others) over a decision both during and after it is made
    • These people have a strong positive view of the world and tend to only accept and act upon information if it is positive or upbeat
    • These people are influenced by the promise of future reward and are persuaded by what they see
    • These people are highly goal oriented, are process oriented and will ignore any training or educational material based “on how things went wrong”
  • Barack Obama – K16 Rich Persona. Key features of their {C,B/e,M} include:
    • These people prefer to experience things firsthand
    • They tend to ignore negative-based information as either unreal or unsubstantiated
    • They are swayed by arguments or plans which reference general or on-going events (events that have stayed fairly stable over time)
    • They base decisions on immediate experience and tend to be positive in nature
  • Sarah Palin – V13 Rich Persona. Key features of their {C,B/e,M} include:
    • These people are moved by what they see
    • They readily act upon information which directs their attention to present problems and challenges
    • They largely ignore appeals to past or future events when forming opinions
    • They are happiest when they have something to do
  • Ron Paul – V8 Rich Persona. Key features of their {C,B/e,M} include:
    • These people need to have information introduced to them visually
    • They like to talk things over with an authority figure (real or imagined) who needs to point out the positive aspects of a decision in order to be taken seriously
    • They make final decisions based on goals and achieving outcomes
    • They tend to over or under commit and reframe their experience as a “learning opportunity” when they realize they’ve over committed themselves. When they’ve discovered that a task or project that they’ve under committed to is complete they tend to think of the time remaining as “found time”
  • Mitt Romney – V16 Rich Persona. Key features of their {C,B/e,M} include:
    • These people need to have information presented to them in pictures, charts or graphs
    • They finalize their decisions by using internal dialog
    • They need information framed in a positive manner before they can accept it
    • They have no sense of time or process

Work Categories

Where our candidates synchronize (to a degree) is the job or work categories they’re most suited for. Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney are best suited for :

  • Auditing
  • QC
  • Analytics
  • Forensics
  • Security

Barack Obama and Ron Paul are best suited for a slightly different lineup:

  • Auditing
  • QC
  • Accounting
  • Analytics
  • Forensics