Romney and the Joy of the Simple Message

There has been a lot of chatter today about last night’s debate. From the left the reactions range of excuses and good reasons for Obama’s performance to outrage over it. From the right, grins and gloating. The one thing that all and sundry agree on is that Romney won the debate. Why?

Consider Ockham’s Razor, the maxim that teaches us that when faced with differing and conflicting hypotheses, the truth will come from the one with the fewest assumptions. Last night, Romney’s performance was predicated on one—yes, one—assumption: The American people need jobs and it is the role of the government to foster an environment where jobs can be created. That was it. That was Romney’s message. Obama’s, on the other hand, was based on a variety of assumptions ranging from the old chestnut, “It’s Bush’s fault” to “taxes promote economic growth” to “Obamacare is identical to what Romney installed in Massachusetts” to “coal is evil and green energy is the way to go regardless of cost” to “the rich need to pay more in the name of fairness.” These are merely the ones that come to mind, but you get the idea. One assumption informs Romney’s economic views; many assumptions inform Obama’s.

I will leave it to you to choose which one is right, but the reactions this morning tell me that hitting that single, basic idea of job growth, and making that idea the centerpiece of his economic plan gave Romney an edge that Obama could not beat.

Trust in Ockham and his razor, it hasn’t let us down in over 660 years.

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