Why A Thinker Won’t Get Elected President: My Analysis of Candidates – Round 2
In my previous two posts I described the four primary personality types characterizing the slate of 2016 presidential candidates, and used the Process Communication Model (PCM®) to analyze Sanders, Bush, Fiorina, Clinton, and a few others. In this post I’ll finish with my take on the rest of the slate.
Personality type is a powerful and often overlooked factor in who captures our attention and votes. Personality has nothing to do with what candidates say, and everything to do with how they say it.
Carson has a very steep learning curve. He visits both his Persister and Thinker parts, occasionally sharing strong values, but also willing to learn and listen to people with more experience and knowledge. While this agility is an asset, his problem is that he hasn’t established either one as a true strength. He’s super smart, no question. But does he know enough about the key issues to be effective? His beliefs seem to come through in the most unexpected times, which has hurt him in the past. Does he have a well-developed set of values that will guide him through the difficult task of presidency?
Carson needs a more coherent “thought” and “belief” platform to compete effectively against Fiorina, Trump, or Bush. He could increase his appeal by picking one or two core convictions and consistently tying them to his platform rather than having them pop out as an afterthought. His stark lack of emotion is a liability. Harmonizers will interpret it as lack of empathy and compassion. Promoters will question his ability to take action.
Kasich struggles with the same problem as Rubio (see my previous post). He rarely moves beyond his Thinker personality part. Like any good Thinker, he is logical, responsible, and organized, and keeps to the facts of his track record and logical analysis of big issues. He prefers to negotiate and collaborate to find the best solutions. For example, when talking about hot button issues like defunding Planned Parenthood, he focuses on the practical ramifications and options rather than his beliefs about abortion.
During a recent Republican debate Kasich said, “Candidates take this position and that position. At the end of the day we have to get to work.” This reflects his monolithic Thinker perspective. Like Rubio, staying with his favorite perceptual frame of reference doesn’t engage the other personality types, who will quickly tune him out and miss his important platform. This doesn’t mean he isn’t smart, but it reduces the number and types of people who will take him seriously.
Cruz prefers to stick with his strong Persister personality type. He is focused on issues of protecting us from enemies, and who can be trusted. While this is a noble pursuit, the way he talks about it reveals that he is in distress. His thinking is extreme; black or white, us vs. them, who can’t be trusted, right vs, wrong. This hurts him because it gives the appearance of being one-sided and unwilling to compromise. In the most recent Republican debates at the Reagan library, Cruz said both of these statements, “We can’t trust Obama,” and “Obama is committed to his liberal principles.” This juxtaposition reveals that Cruz is driven by, and respects beliefs, even if he disagrees with them.
Mike Huckabee is similar to Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush (Persister), only with slightly different positions on things. He’s nice enough but hasn’t tapped enough into Thinker, Promoter or Harmonizer parts of his personality to pose a serious threat to those topping the polls.
What makes Chris Christie so fun to watch is his combination of Persister and Doer. He can get just as volatile as Trump, but also has strong convictions, unlike Trump. The Persister/Promoter combo is shared by some of the most charismatic and effective leaders in history, including Adolf Hitler, Nelson Mandela, and Vladimir Putin. In a good space they can accomplish amazing things. In a bad space, they are capable of breaking laws while feeling justified by some higher purpose. Remember Colonel Jessup from the movie, A few good men? Christie scored most points in the recent debate when he chastised Fiorina and Trump for acting like children by focusing on their own careers and invoked a populist “good of the people” agenda.
Paul has a strong Thinker personality type from which he rarely strays. He’s heavy on facts, strong on rational arguments, and seeks collaboration to solve problems. Like the other Thinkers in the group, he will remain lower in the polls until he can expand into other parts of his personality.
Scott Walker, a Thinker specialist, was not surprisingly the latest casualty. His now famous quote from the recent Republican debate, “Just because he says it doesn’t make it true.” reveals his preference for logic as a frame of reference. He has a ton of facts and figures and seem to understand finance. Unfortunately, sticking with this approach kept his platform from being noticed by a larger audience, and lost credibility with his constituency.
PCM is a powerful framework for recognizing and adapting communication strategies to reach a larger audience. If you are curious about the Process Communication Model, here are a few links.
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