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Parkinson’s Law Election Strategy

September 27, 2012

C. Northcote Parkinson is known for a number of management laws – two of which are “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion,” and “The amount of time spent on an issue in a meeting is inversely proportionate to its importance.”  Both too true!

Another one of his laws, which is right on point in the current Presidential campaign, is “In nearly every matter of controversy, we can assume that the people who will decide will be in the middle bloc.”  Mitt Romney raised a brouhaha last week stating this in an “inelegant” manner, but it is very true.

Parkinson explains that those on both ends of the controversy have already most likely made up their minds and generally will not be swayed by the debate.  The middle bloc will be the ones who will make the decision.

The middle bloc are either those with no strong disposition toward either argument, or comprised of open minded people wanting to hear all the arguments before deciding.  Sometimes they are swayed not as much on the merits, but on how persuasive the candidate is, or a point that the target feels is important even if it is not the main issue, or because of an inane comment they really like.  The middle bloc holds the target group that candidates should spend their time presenting their arguments to, not the committed.

President Obama and Governor Romney seem to understand this in their campaign since they are targeting people in the undecided or battleground states, with extra efforts.  The two sides seem to be extremely polarized and their numbers basically cancel each other out.  Neither appear to be spending significant time on their “base.”  The story this year is the undecided and how persuasive the candidates are toward them.  We shall see!

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