The next president of the United States of America may not be what we need. We need a real leader who will bring real solutions to the challenges facing our economic infrastructure and national security. We will get the candidate who can best manage the nomination process, party politics and public perception.
Too many presidential candidates fail to truly grasp the process, party and perception dynamics. Many credible candidates from both major parties have faltered because they failed at one or more of these critical pillars of caucus and primary success. A candidates’ message must resonate with the likely voters in the key early states, but staying on message is not enough to win a state and the party’s nomination.
The process for selecting the presidential nominee from the two major political parties is unlike any other election held in the U.S. Nearly every other election at the state and local levels requires the voter to simply register to vote, go to the appropriate poll on Election Day and cast a ballot for his favorite candidate. The candidate with the majority of votes wins. The process for selecting the Democratic or Republican nominee and, ultimately, the president is a yearlong endeavor that tests the candidate’s campaigning stamina, party acceptance and popularity.
Though the order of the states’ presidential preference caucuses and primaries changes every four years, three states – Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina – have kicked off the process in recent elections. Due to the media’s horserace-style coverage of the nominating process, a candidate must finish well in these three states to show that his message and perceived leadership style resonates with a cross section of American voters. Success in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina garners media coverage, an edge in fundraising and increased support in the later primary contests.
Herman Cain is the National Chairman of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute. He is the former president and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Inc., and currently is CEO and president of T.H.E. New Voice, Inc., a business and leadership consulting company.
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