Failure Analysis

– A Look at Louisiana’s 2019 Governor Race –

By: Pasquale (Pat) Scopelliti – 11/18/19

The Louisiana Governor’s race was a loss, and I believe an unnecessary one. The first thing to assess is the following fact: The governor was an incumbent. Unless he’s done something egregiously wrong, unseating him is at least twice as hard as defeating a new contender. The odds were on his side from the get go. Second, you have to have a candidate with his own compelling force. I claim NO expertise in state-level politics. My work has been at the national level. But it’s beginning to appear to me that we’ve missed something important so far.

Let’s look at Louisiana and the lost Governor’s race a little. Before I dive in, this small preamble. I almost never discuss anything I consider to be an error, fumble, or mistake on Trump’s part. I figure he’s got plenty enough criticizing him no matter what he does, already. There are, mind you, many moves I’ve disagreed with, yet come to later see the wisdom behind the chaos, the diversion as opposed to the hidden win within. I always look for those coming wins, and try to divine his method. I often get that right and smile. I am, however, a teacher, preacher, and practitioner of something called Failure Analysis. In the military – they may have invented the process – they call it Lessons Learned. These often occur in After Action Reports. No process of continuous improvement can do with it.

We should NOT expect Trump rallies to turn states one way or another, when Trump is NOT on the ballot. It’s not that Trump doesn’t do a perfect rally, making everyone happy. But consider his real speech, what’s it about? The nation, his work, the MAGA mission, etc. Think about it. It would be uncomfortable for the President to spend an entire rally focusing on the future of this or that state. It is beneath his purview. It would, essentially, break the chain of command. He’s the wrong guy for that job

So, when we think about governors, the Republican ideal would be 50 mini-Trumps. And their key would be the ability to run a rally that succeeds focused, not SOLELY on their own state, but PRIMARILY so. And most especially so when you have successful incumbent to defeat! Can you picture that? Of course it would be THRILLING to have Trump come, speak, and support. But again, who’s the star? Why vote for someone else, just because Trump supported that person? It’s asking too much followership. We need new stars rising in each state.

Here’s the tough part for me. I think Trump was wrong in making this election, in any way, a referendum on him or his Impeachment. I didn’t agree with it when he did it, and I don’t agree now. Meaning, this defeat has essentially nothing to do with that, on its own. It might be even worse than that. It’s highly possible that the turnout differential was, in part, fueled by Trump. As I heard it, something like 42% of the voters were registered Democrats, 31% Republicans. Therefore, enthused Democrats vs disheartened Republicans. This brings us to a deeper point. Victory goes to the perceived victor. Victory doesn’t occur on election day. It occurs in the hearts of each voter beforehand. The incumbent’s predictable victory was the cause of his victory. Our guy’s predictable loss was its own cause.

So, the simple possibility has to be considered that some of Trump’s actions empower the other side, and enthuse their base while failing to enthuse ours. Clear analysis of the factors of victory must be in place for each contest. I don’t see such analysis in place.  Enough on that. There’s a deeper failure yet. I do believe we could have won, but what we see in Louisiana is a failure of the Republican party to organize, motivate, and enthuse its own voter base. The other side was 11% more enthused than our side was. That’s an indicator.

Those of you who follow my analyses know that I’ve spouted off extensively on the 2018 midterms and how we failed. We have to focus on that again now. Who remembers the 2012 loss, and Reince Priebus Failure Analysis following? It was phenomenal. It doesn’t get enough credit. The actions that resulted, most easily seen in the most powerful political database in American history to its time, were HUGELY important in our 2016 victory. I’m not always a fan of Priebus’, but I say again he doesn’t get enough credit for his courageous analysis.

If I were on the Trump team formally, I’d be pushing as hard as I possibly could to hire Priebus back in for the sole purpose of assessing 2018 in advance of 2020. I’d give him just one month to get us initial insights that were instantly actionable. My own Failure Analysis from the Louisiana case is actually very simple. We have no chain of command – the other side does – and we have no true basis of leadership and followership at the state level, as far as I can see. Voters don’t vote when defeat is certain. The job of leadership is to prove, not merely state but prove, that victory is possible. It is leadership’s job to make that case so watertight that voters find the joy of the vote, where it would otherwise be a waste of time. We don’t have such leaders, as far as I can see.

Let’s turn another direction. We’ve gotten about as much out of attacking the media as we’re going to get. I don’t mean to stop. I just mean, let’s not imagine that that strategy will get us much further. Those lines have been drawn and can’t gain us much more. I say it’s time to switch gears. I say it’s time to start finding honest journalists hidden within the corps of Democrat operative journalists. Why? We’re not having fun anymore. We’re not finding the joy of our coming victory. That’s what we need. Joy.

Every time we find an honest journalist, willing to state the truth, there will be joy. This applies to the Impeachment, and it applies at the level of state elections. You have to give such people an invitation to be friends. Consider again, what were the actual policy differences between the two governor candidates? How strongly did we build our story in the media, finding honest journalists to convey our side? I don’t know, but my bet is we didn’t do very well. We usually don’t.

Flip focuses again. What if we’ll never have the media on our side, not even just a few honest journalists. Okay. Why did we lose. Yes, the incumbency. Possibly Trump’s strategy was wrong. Certainly we had no superstar. But ultimately, we do not organize and enthuse our vote. This is our great failure. It’s time we correct it. As to how, I have done a great deal of work on a project I call #SunTzuForAmerica. You may want to check it out. And I say again, yes, we could have won. That we lost, we must analyze and learn from.

Pasquale (Pat) Scopelliti is an executive coach, author of America First – The MAGA Manifesto, and avid supporter of America First. Pat provided strategic analysis to General Flynn during Flynn’s service as a direct advisor to President Trump in the 2016 Election. Currently Pat is writing a detailed analysis of John Minford’s interpretation of Sun Tzu and posting his work on Twitter. Pat is a friend & mentor, providing strategic guidance to the Campaign Corner.