Obama v. Romney: Literate v. Numerate
February 24, 2012, 03:06 PM
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If the 2012 election comes down to Obama v. Romney, it could be an interesting match-up of literacy v. numeracy. (That`s assuming that Romney is as numerate as his success making money at Bain Capital suggests. At BYU, he was an English Lit major, and when he graduated in the top 5% at Harvard Business School in the 1970s while graduating with honors at Harvard Law, the curriculum wasn`t all that quant. But still ...) Obama is very good with words, but I`m not familiar with a single anecdote about him suggesting one way or another how good he is with numbers. For example, I`m trying to think of Obama citing a sports statistic (he`s an ESPN addict, so that`s hardly an abstruse test for him). In contrast, Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan said that the biggest problem with President Reagan`s rough drafts for his speeches was that he put in all sorts of statistics that the speechwriters had to take out because the public doesn`t like numbers.

With politicians and the electorate, I would bet on power of words over numbers.