Friday, December 7, 2007

The Rise and Rise of Mike Huckabee (part 2 of 3)

First impressions matter in wrestling. Fans instinctively know if a wrestler has main event (1st tier) potential or will toil as a simple midcarder (2nd tier). These are based on basic human biases. The wrestler's gimmick, stage presence, look and physique are the usual points of judgment, wrestling ability funnily enough is not high on the list.

For a wrestler who is not connecting with the fans, there are several things they can adjust to improve their popularity.

1. Tweaking the persona or gimmick
Gimmicks often don't work when they are inauthentic or too cartoony. A wrestler is served by a gimmick that suits their personality- a gimmick that has original appeal but also one that fans find credible and take seriously. Ideally the transformation is achieved gently, convincingly and organically.

2. Work on appearance - Get bigger!
Almost all successful wrestlers share a musclebound look. Even once a wrestler reaches the pinnacle as champion, you will notice their physique getting larger still. Fans have been conditioned to expect a certain type of look.

Presidential candidates go to similar transformations from their midcard positions as 'smaller town' governors and senators. The Presidential hopefuls tweak their persona and record to appeal better to their national ideological base. Certain actions that were prudent for their region may need to be justified to satisfy the base. Private personality traits that were acceptable may no longer be tolerable for the national audience. In this election, most Republican candidates will have to explain their record on illegal immigration and tax raising which may have been necessary in their locales. For Democrats they may have to explain their actions in regards to the War in Iraq. Expect to see candidates tweaking their personas to broaden their appeal and distance themselves from gimmicks that will not play to the national audience.

While wrestlers build up their physique as they climb for the top. Politicians pad their resumes and strengthen their rhetoric on Foreign policy and National security. They become tougher, more hawkish versions of themselves to convince voters that they are ready to command the military and lead the country.

Wrestlers can get away with certain performances when they occupy the middle of the bill, so to politicians governing smaller cities. There are higher expectations however when they are tasked with being the figurehead of a company or elected to be leader of the free world.

Though the party nominees won't be decided for months still, the candidates and their chances are clearly delineated. Rudy Giuliani (rep), a former Mayor of New York and Time Magazine man of the year is first-tier by name ID and reputation. So too is former first lady and New York Senator Hillary Clinton (dem), previous Presidential campaigners John McCain (rep) and John Edwards (dem) as well new stars Mitt Romney (rep) and Barack Obama (dem). Then there is Fred Thompson, a person who has gained strong name ID largely from his work in Hollywood.

The 2nd tier (midcard) candidates are Bill Richardson and Joe Biden for the Democrats, Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee for the republicans.

All these candidates have clearly defined personas and gimmicks. The fresh faced idealistic senator who is hoping to become the first black President of the United States. The battled hardened war hero, The Mormon, The First Lady-cum-First Woman President, Mr 9/11, Hollywood Fred, the baby faced Robin Hood, the baptist preacher and the Libertarian People's Champion.

One of these 'characters' is riding a wave of popularity that could possibly earn them the Presidential Championship belt. I will be detailing how this rise was achieved in Part 3 of this post

to be continued part 3 of 3

Read 'The Rise and Rise of Mike Huckabee' Part 1 of 3
Read 'The Rise and Rise of Mike Huckabee' Part 3 of 3

Find "Huckamania!" posters here and newer ones here.

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