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.