Why Business People Fail in Politics — Except the Very Smartest

There is a wonderful chat in the Post today about the difference between Trump’s “analog,” 1980’s national TV strategy, and the Dems “digital,” 21st century, targeted one.  Read it, I have not done it justice.

I want, however, to draw a much more general conclusion.  The reason business people fail in politics is that to make a lot of money you need to provide a product or service that enough people want to pay a lot of money for.  But you do not have to sell to 51% of the market.  In politics, unless you have the help of the Supreme Court, you do have to get to 50% plus one.  So the business skills are about exploiting a niche, hopefully a large niche, but not about necessarily expanding that niche to half – and then running the risk of anti-trust attention.

Surely, that niche strategy is exactly what Trump followed in the primary, winning decisively, but with less than 50% even within his Rep niche, and failing miserably to get to 50% in the market as a whole, and showing no ability at all to get there.

Think similarly about Carly Fiorina, who tried an expansion strategy at HP aimed at very high volume and failed there and in politics.

The exception would be the really smart people who do not simply apply current skills and techniques to the new situation of politics, as Trump surely has done, but rather step back and figure out what the new environment needs and how to do that.  Of course, its clear that Trump is not really that good at business, and so its no surprise that he is also not much good at making the switch.  Indeed, you have to ask what it is about big real estate that makes it so easy to succeed in, and what the success of a manifest loser like Trump in real estate says about other moguls who appear successful in that field.

Finally, Trump’s likely ability to continue to dominate his niche after the election is surely the worst possible news for the Republican party, no matter what strategy they try to adopt to deal with it, assuming indeed, that they are even capable of adopting one such strategy.