Taking from Your Opposition: The Lessons of the Presidential Election

Though Sun Tzu teaches winning without conflict, he did teach the need to compete directly for resources. Resources that you take from your opponent are worth many times the resources your get on your own. For example, in an election you can invest your efforts one of two ways: by getting more of your voters to the polls or by taking voters away from your opponent. The math is simple: votes from your voters are worth one in the margin of victory, but votes from your opponent's voters are worth two: the vote you gain and the vote your opponent loses. We see exactly this pattern in the recent election where the margin of victory, 6%, came from the inroads that Obama was able to make among voters who went Republican in the last two elections. Quoting a recent article by Carl Rove:

"But we do know President-elect Obama ran better among frequent churchgoers (perhaps getting 10 points more than John Kerry did), independents (perhaps five points more than Kerry and eight points more than Al Gore), Hispanics and white men. He even made special appeals to gun owners and sent his wife to cultivate military families."