Politics
Republican U.S. Senator Thad Cochran greets supporter Marcus Ward (R) during an election night celebration after defeating Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel in a run-off election in Jackson, Mississippi June 24, 2014. REUTERS/Lee Celano  (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) - RTR3VLJF Republican U.S. Senator Thad Cochran greets supporter Marcus Ward (R) during an election night celebration after defeating Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel in a run-off election in Jackson, Mississippi June 24, 2014. REUTERS/Lee Celano (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) - RTR3VLJF  

How Thad Cochran Flipped The Script … And Survived

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Matt K. Lewis
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      Matt K. Lewis

      Matt K. Lewis is a senior contributor to The Daily Caller, and a contributing editor for The Week. He is a respected commentator on politics and cultural issues, and has been cited by major publications such as The Washington Post and The New York Times. Matt is from Myersville, MD and currently resides in Alexandria, VA. Follow Matt K. Lewis on Twitter <a>@mattklewis</a>.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and it was utter desperation that forced Thad Cochran’s campaign to employ an unorthodox run-off strategy.

Say what you will about how he got it done, but Cochran’s wooing of Democratic base voters was both strategically gutsy and logistically challenging. And yet, it worked.

My latest column for The Week focuses on what we can all learn about it. Here’s an excerpt:

Adaptability is a hugely important skill. If you can adapt to changing circumstances on the ground — and do so rapidly — you can win. That’s exactly what Team Cochran did when they basically reinvented their political strategy for winning the race, defying conventional wisdom, and turning a run-off election into a general election. You can hate Cochran, but still admire this gutsy maneuver.

Conservatives may lament this, but the rules are the rules, and Mississippi has an open primary system, which means that unless you voted in the Democratic primary, you were eligible. But let’s put politics aside for a second. This is a business model for all of us.

In the old days, winning was largely about rote efficiency and mastery of what was known to work. The assembly line is perhaps the best icon of this era. But in today’s world — whether it’s business, military or politics — adaptability is perhaps the most important skill one can master.

If you can adapt to changing circumstances on the ground — and do so rapidly — you can win, or at least, survive. That’s exactly what Team Cochran did when they basically reinvented their political strategy for winning the race, essentially defying conventional wisdom, and turning a run-off election into a general election.

This is a valuable lesson: Sometimes you have to flip the script.