Romney’s Interstitial Disconnect
Thursday, February 7th, 2008
NEW YORK, NEW YORK — Mitt Romney just announced the end of his bid for the Republican nomination. In today’s political climate, big money and high-paid consultants alone do not make the grade. Successful campaigns and candidates must be multi-dimensional in order to woo multi-media oriented voters.
In that vein, Romney and his staff never came to grips with what voters were looking for in a President.
Roughly 80% of Americans are unsatisfied with traditional political news coverage, and so they have signed online. The Parties have started to take note. In New Hampshire, hundreds of thousands of potential voters used the US Election Facebook application to stream live comments and answer polls during the debate. In Hollywood, the CNN Debates were co-sponsored by the LA Times and Politico.com, and their user’s questions were directed to the candidates à la the CNN/YouTube debate. Interstitial debates are becoming the norm, and as a result large volumes of voters are tracking the candidates.
Romney’s campaign platform, when compared to his track record as Governor of Massachusetts, appeared too disingenuous to a segment of Republicans, and too inconsistent for the media. TIME reports that “his biggest problem was a perceived lack of humanity…humor, purpose, and authenticity.” But the essence of this disconnect was that his positions seemed out of character, and not rooted in his heart and soul. Therefore, Romney was vulnerable to pointed inquiry and perceptive public opinion.
From the start, Romney has evaded impromptu questions, especially those originating online. His campaign’s presence on the social networks was minimal. In December, he balked at the opportunity of participating in an interstitial debate co-sponsored by TechPresident.com, the NYTimes Editorial Board, and MSNBC. In January, he barely stopped to talk with Steve Grove, the News and Politics Editor of YouTube. Mr. Romney also repeatedly ignored Why Tuesday?’s Candidate Challenge to explore how to strengthen America’s voter turnout, yet one of his campaign slogans called for a “Strong America.”
Each of the other candidates employ a new media communications strategy and have opened themselves to new media questions. Governor Romney’s tragic flaw lay in his inability to transmit consistent, transparent messaging demanded by the dynamic of a modern campaign.