James Carville: “Don’t let the little crap get in the way of the big shit”

author
Dr. Louis Perron
blog post louis

During election campaigns, we spend numerous hours discussing details that barely matter. Should the candidate wear a different tie? What giveaway should the campaign produce? Does the candidate smile nicely on the picture? I can’t think of any candidate who has lost an election because of the tie he was wearing. James Carville, an American political consultant, famously said: “Don’t let the little crap get in the way of the big shit.” Indeed, it’s the big shit that decides elections, and usually there is one defining issue. Election campaigns are a communication process and get lost when the people you are trying to reach don’t get what you are trying to tell them, forget about it, don’t want to hear it, or if it doesn’t connect with them at an emotional level. If you win an election by 43’000 votes, such as Joe Biden did, I guess you could argue that plenty of small tactical decisions tipped the balance. But those are exceptions. At times when we all get caught up in the hectic daily business of campaigns, it is good to remember that most elections are won or lost on the basics.