Romney And The Prevent Defense

Posted by | January 20, 2012 12:23 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

I skipped the debate on Monday and resumed watching yesterday (I guess I missed my last chance to laugh at Governor Perry).  And boy was I surprised by the new model of robot Governor Romney that had been trotted out in the interim.  Throughout the debate season, I’ve been surprisingly impressed with Romney at the debates.  But yesterday, he was easily flustered and stumbled defending Romneycare and his bizarre stance on his tax returns.  Nate Silver thinks the explanation lies in a poor strategic choice by the Romney campaign.

Most football fans have learned to hate the ‘prevent defense’, a strategy that is employed when a team holds a lead late in the game. In theory, the strategy involves being willing to yield short completions to the offense in an effort to prevent a big gain. In reality, it seems to yield plenty of short completions — but also its share of big gains as the offense takes advantage of the soft coverage.
Hence the aphorism “the prevent defense only prevents you from winning.”

During Monday night’s debate in Myrtle Beach, Mitt Romney seemed to be engaging in a political version of the strategy, avoiding direct confrontation with his opponents while giving evasive answers on issues ranging from his tax returns to the role of “Super PACs.”

Speaker Gingrich has pulled even with Romney in South Carolina and Senator Santorum gave perhaps the best debate performance of the campaign.  All of a sudden, Saturday is very interesting.

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Copyright 2012 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.

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