34 out of 43 Wealthy Candidates Lost on Tuesday
CNBC’s Robert Frank has an interesting article about the numerous losses by the very wealthy in Tuesday’s election.
Mitt Romney was one of thirty-four (out of forty-three) candidates that invested $500,000 or more into their campaign, and lost this year. While Karl Rove’s 1.29% return-on-investment made him the most pathetic loser of the year, it was still other peoples money, not his own.
Frank’s article raises some interesting questions though. Why did voters reject such a large number of people like this? He suggests that it could be due to polls that say Americans have more of a negative view of the rich today than they had ten years ago. Another possibility is that these super-rich candidates struggle to connect with voters — Romney awkwardness and discomfort at meeting real people became legendary — so it’s easy to portray them, and to see them, as out of touch.
I just have to share the video of Romney’s awkwardness that the Huffington Post produced a few months ago. So awkward it’s embarrassing, and funny:
Now a bit from Robert Frank’s story:
Another big spender was Tom Smith, the GOP’s senate nominee from Pennsylvania. Smith spent more than $16 million of his own fortune to try to defeat incumbent Democrat Bob Casey. Casey won by a wide margin last night.In Colorado, Democratic Congressman Ed Perlmutter tromped Joe Coors, the scion of the Molson Coors Brewing [TAP 40.90 -0.70 (-1.68%) ] family, who spent more than $3 million on the race. In Maryland, businessman Rob Sobhani lost a bid to replace U.S. Senator Ben Cardin. Sobhani, who ran as an independent, spent more than $4 million of his own money on a blizzard of ads in Baltimore and Washington media markets.
One of the rare wealthy winners was Democrat Suzan DelBene, a former Microsoft [MSFT 28.81 -0.27 (-0.93%) ] exec who defeated Republican John Koster for a congressional seat in Washington state. She used more than $2 million of her own money for the campaign.
Success in Business Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Success in Politics
I might also add what I wrote about during the campaign, which is that the skills that made Romney a successful CEO do not necessarily translate to the world of politics. Romney’s own record as governor of Massachusetts showed how much he struggled to work within the confines of government. It’s a system, not a top down organization where one person calls the shots.
Again, those skills are acceptable and even encouraged in business but it’s hard to see how they can successfully transition into government. What may possibly be a better fit would be the example of Suzan DelBene of Washington. She was a senior manager of a large corporation (Microsoft) which meant that she had to have pretty strong skills to work within a large organization.
If anything, that’s a much better fit than a self-made (or daddy-millionaire-made) candidate. Someone like DelBene is already used to working within a highly political organization, as opposed to being the only decision maker in an organization.
Here’s an excerpt from my earlier piece:
The mission at Bain was to make money and lots of it. So a cold-hearted focus on money, not people (something that Romney excels at) was an asset, if not a pre-requisite for the job. Romney didn’t need to listen to the little people in order to run Bain successfully, and he didn’t have to care about them. In the end, it was all about making money for Bain and himself. He called the shots and there was no need to incorporate other views into his plans.
Running for office is completely different. Romney is now showing how little he understands about working with, and listening to, and caring about everyone, even the little people.
Mitt Romney is the least compassionate person that we’ve seen run for office in a long while, and people can see it, smell it, taste it. Who wants to vote for the guy that you know would fire you in a second if it meant he could make a few more dollars?
Another angle on this is that although polling has shown how unpopular the Supreme Court’s decision to let unlimited money infiltrate politics, voters reinforced this at the polls this week. Whether it was the super rich candidates or the super rich money donors, they lost badly this week. Maybe Americans are trying to send another message that they are tired of the obscene amounts of cash being pumped into politics? Is anyone in DC listening?