3’rs and How Cognitive Bias May Have Us Reeling Come 2012


We have mistakenly given ourselves over to cognitive biases in this nomination process and we will inevitably come to gravely lament our foolishness come 2012. As many of you have likely done, I have found myself rather displeased and unsatisfied with the path that conservatives are in leaving New Hampshire. I have come to the conclusion that many of our frustrations can be attributed to a few common psychological and interrelated biases including the Availability Cascade and the Semmelweis Effect.  Please take a few minutes to Read, Reflect and eventually Rethink your opinion of Romney’s electability in the general election. I have used some merciless language throughout this essay, it reflects my own frustration in falling into these same biases and my aggravation in the seemingly futile attempt to change minds; however, I do believe that I have highlighted many intriguing viewpoints and a unique perspective on the current nomination situation.   

Lets Get Started:

Why is Mitt so electable? He couldn’t beat Ted Kennedy in the 1994 senate race, approval pole’s suggest he likely wouldn’t have been reelected for Governor in Massachusetts, and we chose John McCain instead in 2008. Why all of a sudden is Mitt the right guy for us now? Mitt hasn’t done anything to show us that he is any different or better of a candidate now than he was four years ago when he lost to John McCain! It seems the Republican Party is playing into the idea that he is the “default” candidate this time around and that he is least likely to create any bad waves with the far too coveted moderates. The idea that Mitt is most electable has undergone a self reinforcing process as this collective belief becomes more plausible through the repetition of commentary in public discourse regarding his appeal to moderates and lack of controversial stances that could be enumerated by the Obama Camp (Availability Cascade). I believe we have given Mitt a fairly effective, from his perspective, free pass up to this point. We have vetted all the other candidates and inspected them with great focus thus explaining the undulation of popularity for each of his competitors.

 The party just does not like or trust Mitt Romney and we have voiced our opinion week after week as we have seen each of his competitors shuffle ahead and subsequently fall in the polls. Our default opinion then has been to support Romney. We all constantly admit with reluctance and apprehension that we believe Mitt will eventually become the candidate even though there are a plethora of reasons we don’t like him, we cannot relate to him and there are many things about him that will make him most vulnerable to the inevitable strategy of the Obama Campaign (Semmelweis Effect). This is a MISTAKE. We are taking our hatred and disapproval of President Obama for granted. The establishment and the entire party, for that matter, believes the voters will eventually come on out and support Romney in droves because he will be the only alternate to Obama. We forget the passion and excitement that Obama can create and we forget just how infectious that passion was in 2008. It doesn’t take a political genius to see that Mitt is not exciting and that he seems disingenuous. He has changed his stances over and over again. We are told that he is great by the establishment because he can appeal to moderates and his views line up with moderates, but he isn’t even genuine with his moderate views. He has since reversed his own moderate opinions to satisfy everyone in hopes to gain more conservative acceptance. He is a patchwork politician doing and saying whatever he thinks will get him elected. At the end of the day he can’t be excited or passionate about his own views because, deep down, they are not his. We absolutely cannot afford to nominate a candidate that does not excite and inspire the party.

Furthermore I think that to dismiss the “King of Bain” film and the negativity surrounding his career at Bain Capital is naïve at best. We can all argue that this is a facet of capitalism, and it is! Dismissing the issue and claiming the American people will overlook this or that it will somehow backfire would be, and I hate to say it, overestimating the American people.  There is a large difference between starting your own business and stalking companies, slicing them up, purging them of their assets, and firing a majority of employees who poured their lives into their work and staked their livelihood on its success. It plays directly into the Democrats strategy. Mitt was a corporate raider. Remember the first Wall Street movie? Mitt Romney will become a real-life Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglass) remember the sentiment when he wanted to destroy Bud Fox’s (Charlie Sheen) father’s airplane company? Obama will draw on the same sentiments except with a billion dollars to do it in the real world. These issues were going to come up at some point. It is better that it came out now so that the Republican Party still has an opportunity to decide if we still think Mitt can survive attacks claiming he is an elitist and corporate vulture. The average person has less in common with Mitt than we would like to believe. Look, I believe in capitalism (I’m a financial statement auditor), but this film will destroy Mitt in the general election, and is the very reason the Democrats would LOVE to go up against Mitt Romney.