President Obama’s re-election proves that being a successful “shark” in any industry doesn’t necessarily mean you need to take a bite out of weak prey. In the President’s case, his team simply did a better top-to-bottom job throughout the campaign of understanding how the water candidates must swim in has changed.
For Sharkonomics these changes include:
1. Continued shifts in demographics. The President recognized the growth of Latinos as a larger percentage of the electorate and developed a campaign strategy to at the very least, maintain his margins compared to 2008. He didn’t need to set unrealistic goals. Just as sharks can live on a “steady” diet regardless of increases in seals, President Obama knew that he was swimming with increasingly favorable demographics.
2. Boots in “the cloud.” While Republicans wasted time and resources on a “ground game” that looked similar to the one they have used for years, President Obama’s team found new ways to keep turnout of younger voters at record levels by communicating with technology they use every day. Sharks are visionaries, while prey are not.
3. Disciplined defense from instant news cycles. Sharks often swim in schools, and while President Obama made a few mistakes along the way, his entire operation was highly disciplined in words and tactics. Compare this to the Republicans, who allowed rogue US Senate candidates to dominate national news cycles with shockingly inappropriate comments. The country probably would not have seen a stupid remark by a bad candidate in 1980. In 2012, those kinds of comments are on Twitter within minutes.
Finally, it’s ironic that Mitt Romney, who is the ultimate turnaround specialist, could not do the same for the national Republican Party. While he was a shark at times, the dysfunctional structure of his party prevented Romney from swimming in the right waters to get elected.