The January Fog of Strategy


Filed Under Latest News on Jan 6 

Will it be over before March Madness even begins? Hard to answer that question in early January, but it seems reasonable to say no one really has any idea when it will be over. When a clear favorite – in terms of delegates not polls – emerges, is still a very uncertain prediction. Never mind who that favorite will turn out to be.

Narrow it down to three or four candidates like Cruz, Rubio, Trump, and perhaps one out of Carson, Bush, Christie and who-knows-who-else. And you risk missing out on an upset winner in Iowa.

One can analyze what strategies worked in the past, and which strategies seem to working for now. But what strategy will prove to be a winner and why it will is still hardly clear at this point.

But one question that lurks uncomfortably is how powerful will media coverage turn out to be? Carson was seen as doing an end run around mainstream media with his social media presence. Until weak performances at the debates started to finally hurt his numbers. And the debates are arguably where media has its greatest impact.

One of the reasons Trump has managed to be so successful is he is the media. Or at least, he has been and continues to be an important media figure who understands the medium of media if you will. No one uses media to pick a fight like Trump. Or to finish a fight someone else started. Whether that be other candidates or media personalities themselves.

So perhaps a key question will be who can spin the Iowa and New Hampshire results to their favor? Cruz is already being set up for a fall in Iowa: anything less than a solid showing there will have mainstream outlets running with the Cruz-peaked-too-early story.

Will that matter to voters? At some point, yes it may. Can Cruz use media – whether social or the debate stage or the archaic but still-relevant soundbite – to ensure media does not box him in after Iowa? Can Trump continue to dominate coverage, no matter how much he is attacked by GOP insiders? Can Rubio build on his growing list of endorsements to gather a growing number of delegates in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina and head into March with the odor of victory?

Will anyone dare to predict what strategy will actually lead to the nomination in 2016?