The War Room: how Clinton won in ’92 – and the importance of thanking helpers

For political campaigning addicts, the 1992 US Presidential election is a classic. A party coming back to win after a series of defeats. A candidate coming back from the depths of personal scandal to a landslide win. A campaign team headed by charismatic characters who make Jeremy Clarkson seem quiet and modest by comparison. An aggressive and different approach to media relations. An innovative approach (for politics) to open-plan, non-siloed team organisation. A famous campaign message slogan. And all recorded in a great documentary film, The War Room.

Watching it again a few days ago, I noticed something that had slipped by me in the past. It is the details of the campaign war room whiteboard, shown as the camera pans around an empty office just before the final credits:

Clinton 1992 campaign white board

There in the top right is the famous slogan, “The economy, stupid”, alongside its often forgotten siblings, “Change vs more of the same” and “Don’t forget healthcare”. Added to them is the late entrant during the race of “The debate stupid”.

Yet look below. What is given nearly as much prominence as the key messages for everyone to remember? The name of a team member who has done great work.

That’s how important the team is. It’s a lesson that applies whether you are running for President of the most powerful country in the world or running for the lowliest of offices in the quietest corner imaginable. It’s a lesson you can learn more about in 101 Ways To Win An Election.

You can buy The War Room on DVD here.

Some of the 1992 Democrat TV ads

5 responses to “The War Room: how Clinton won in ’92 – and the importance of thanking helpers”

    • markpack A good spot on your part! I wholly agree. Lack of recognition a massive morale killer in most orgs.

  1. My experience is that too often the Lib Dems don’t say thanks to the activists. Perhaps what is more surprising is that many activists continue to work in spite of the lack of gratitude.

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