Why The FNM Lost The 2012 Election


FNM Election LossBahamian pundits have come out of the woodwork to express their opinions as to why the FNM lost the 2012 General Election.  Opinions range from the foolish drivel of Ortland Bodie to the reasoned analysis offered by columnist Larry Smith.

But not one of them have hit the nail on the head.

Ortland Bodie suggests that Mr Ingraham lost the election because the Prime Minister refused to appear as a guest on Mr Bodie’s radio programme.

In a letter to the newspapers which, curiously, always have room for Mr Bodie’s vindictive diatribes, the disbarred lawyer said:

“I predicted, months ago that any political leader who did not appear on the most influential and listened to radio talk show in the nation would, ultimately, lose the now mercifully concluded general election.”

What a pompous fool.

He notes that Perry Christie appeared twice and Mr Ingraham never appeared on his show.

“The rest is history,” Bodie says, so full of himself he might explode.

One thing is certain… an appearance on Mr Bodie’s radio show meant nothing in terms of an election win or loss.

Leading up to the election, many people were saying that the country was ready for real change. Bran McCartney and the DNA made this their mantra.  Obviously, that prognosis was dead wrong. Not only did the DNA not win one seat, but the re-election of Perry Christie’s PLP, which has been in power for the majority of the country’s independence, hardly indicates change, especially when the PLP was running many of the same scandal-ridden candidates.

It wasn’t change the people wanted, but a return to the “good old days”.  Bran McCartney himself summed it up nicely when he said the election of the PLP was a step backwards, not forward. And it was certainly not the change Mr McCartney envisioned.

Some go so far as to say that the DNA caused the FNM’s defeat at the polls.  That is patently absurd.  In actuality, the DNA siphoned almost as may votes from the PLP as they did from the FNM. The impotence of the DNA is reflected in the fact that not even their leader, Bran McCartney, could attract enough votes to retain his Bamboo Town seat.

Another reason for the FNM loss, that was proferred by pundit Larry Smith, had to do with Hubert Ingraham’s hardline – some say “dictator-like” – personality. That too is nonsense, as most Bahamians prefer decisive leadership. Even Perry Christie has promised to be more decisive in his latest reincarnation, particularly in light of the report by an American polling firm that said his indecisiveness was one of the major reasons the PLP lost the 2007 election.

Others have cited the cost overruns and mismanagement of the New Providence Road Improvement Project as a major cause of voter defection from the FNM.  Yet, those same critics are among the first to praise the new roads as they whiz across town in half the time it used to take.  In fact, the biggest critics of the road project fail to realize that the slow pace and mismanagement was mostly the fault of Bahamian workers, not the Argentinian construction company that is being blamed.  And if Leslie Miller has his way, and the Argentinians are booted from the country to make way for more Bahamian workers, you can bet the roads will take even longer and cost even more to complete.

Nor, was the sale of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company the “game changer” in this election.  Despite all their negative rhetoric, there is not one PLP supporter who has not benefitted from the sale of BTC and many, many Bahamians received huge payouts during the sale process that financially enriched them and their families. The new management of BTC has done an excellent job and even the most staunch critics will admit (in private) that the sale of the company was a wise and timely move.

The fact that the public can now invest in and actually own a piece of BTC is revolutionary and truly empowers Bahamians.

So what was the real reason the FNM lost the election?

Marketing, plain and simple.

The FNM tried to appeal to logic, the PLP wisely chose to appeal to emotions.

Former FNM MP Desmond Bannister said, “Our message didn’t resonate with them (the Bahamian public) in this election sufficiently for us to win.”

He’s right about that.

It didn’t matter that the FNM really did accomplish many good things in the last five years. And it didn’t matter that most of the PLP’s statements were lies, half-truths or otherwise deceptive. What mattered was that the PLP played on the emotions of an intellectually immature and overly emotional, xenophobic public; the same way that many corrupt pastors do to enrich themselves at the expense of their congregations.

And how could the Bahamian public be so easily duped by marketing propaganda?

Because, as FNM supporter Shonell Russell told a Tribune reporter, “Because the Bahamian people are stupid. Instead of going forward, they want to go backwards.”

That statement may seem insultingly hurtful, but it is true.  With so many Bahamians functionally illiterate and not prone to deep thinking, many Bahamians could not tell the difference between emotion and hype, so it was easy to dupe them.

History is full of examples of lousy products and people being marketed successfully. From the Pet Rock to Britney Spears, it has been shown that marketing and media manipulation is all about perception, not quality or talent.

The PLP’s catchy slogans and well-orchestrated campaign (exclusive of the disingenuous murder rate billboards) had more emotional appeal than anything the FNM put out. And everyone in marketing knows that people make buying (voting) decisions based on emotion. Marketing must use emotion to sell what people want, not what you think they “need” or want them to need.

Logic is boring. The world is a busy, cluttered place with advertisements and messages everywhere. If your message is boring, you don’t stand a chance.

The PLP hit on what Bahamians want, and what they hate. They played on the things that keep people awake at night and events they dread. They understood what it was that Bahamians were emotional about and they designed their campaign to address those emotions.

The PLP used catchy slogans and advertisements that harmonized with the emotions of the Bahamian public, allowing them to to turn people on and off at will. This is the greatest and most profitable form of marketing, and always will be.

Now, with 97 days left in his first 100 days, Perry Christie has a lot to do in order to live up to the promises he made.

35 thoughts on “Why The FNM Lost The 2012 Election

  1. It is so very interesting to see the bias in the submitted prognosis of those who cite others as biased and deliver more of the same.

    It is time for healing and moving forward. The PLP team won and the FNM team lost – pure and simple.

    Bahamians – and we are not imbeciles (generally) felt a sense of dissatisfaction with the state of affairs of our country. What happened here (election results), happened in Jamaica and in a number of our Caricom neighbouring countries.

    It is now up to all of us to move on and do our bit to modernize and rebuild our country, inclusive of restoring the fortunes and confidence of our young persons graduating from college & high schools.

    Politicians come and go but the electorate is here forever. Our role is to give the charge, review the results and reward the performance (real or perceived).

    1. Noted and agreed, Don. But still, the conclusion of the article, that the PLP had a better marketing machine is certainly true. And indeed it is the young people who must be “brought on board”, so to speak, before any real advancements can be made.

  2. All this analagy of the election is bullshit the PLP won because they had money to buy those Bahamians who walking around with the dollar sign over their head

  3. There are two main reasons:

    1) Global economy which is turning every election
    2) No succession plan for the FNM – Pindling’s mentoring created 2 Prime Ministers and one Deputy, Ingraham’s “pupils” have all gone down with him and as he goes, so will they.

  4. Had nothing to do with marketing, a lot of people are simply tired of there children getting killed as the murder rate broke records from one year to the next.

    People did not like contracts about 25% or more going to foriegners becuase bahamians are not qualified enough and during a time of about 15-20% unemployment and at the same time nothing was done from the plp days to get the grade point average up from D.

    If the FNM seriously focused on school and revanmping the educational system, force firms to hire a lot more bahamians and create aprenticeship programs a lot of these issues wouldnt be here today.

    THe Truth is the bahamas has never really tried to fix its social issues becuase thats a very very hard thing to do and harder to take credit for when they work.

    Every politician praises Pindling who was a thief and drug dealer, if thats the father of our country what do you think the children will be. And NOT one Political party to date will do that or try to change it. Becuase its easier to lie to the populace and build monuments and say how great we are as party instead of making the people great.

    1. Patrick, I agree that social issues are the biggest problem the country faces and I have yet to see any viable solutions. Although the earlier comments by Don touches on the right solution… “restoring the fortunes and confidence of our young persons graduating from college & high schools.”

      This is particularly important because if we do not address this issue, more and more of the best and brighest go off to school and never return. That “brain-drain” is sapping us of the great potential that young people have to offer the country.

  5. Marketing?? This is a very biased and close-minded opinion. Marketing??? Is that the cause? WoW! The opinion is as narrow as all the PLP opinions. Maybe it’s because Bahamians don’t have time to listen to “Marketing Messages” as they struggle to make it through another day. What utter foolishness.

    I have not lived in the Bahamas since the age of 17 when I left for university but have continued to keep my country near and dear for over 25 years. I am not PLP, FNM, nor DNA, but I am a son of the soil (mostly rock but…whatever). One thing that you and “FNMs in denial” have to realize is that the Bahamian electorate is far more sophisticated than politicos think they are. The same political games of pre-independence that created a “gimme” society and which LO Pindling capitalized on is no more. Providing essential resources to a society are nothing to tout and brag on. In a 21st century Bahamas, good roads, water, infrastructure, health facilities, etc. should be expected and commonplace for a progressive modern-day society. What transformative 21st century leadership in the Bahamas should be about is creating our own home-grown Sol Kerzner for example. Stop importing opportunity and exporting the prosperity derived from it period.

    Empowering the minds of Bahamians to own their country is the biggest challenge for governance in the Bahamas today. Helping Bahamians to realize their full potential as world citizens. Moving beyond the same old privileged class of Bahamians (Symonnettes, Kelly’s, etc.). Creating a new vibrant business/entrepreneural class of Bahamians that can innovate and broaden the tourism-focused industrial base. There is no need for Bahamians to acquire tertiary education or improve on the national “D” average when all they need is to make up beds, fix mixed drinks, shake cowbells, and say ..”welcome to the bahamas”. Put the Sir Stafford Sands ecomonic model to bed…Please.
    Hubert did some good. I enjoyed him/his character immensely, but he was tutored by LO’s operating model which is outdated in a modern Bahamas. Perry! Watch out cause if you come with the same game, you will find yourself uttering the same words Hubert did Monday night.

    1. Pretty much everything you say is true but it does not negate what I said.

      Truthfully, it doesn’t matter what the FNM did or didn’t do. Both parties have done good and both have made mistakes. It boils down to how the public perceives what was or wasn’t accomplished.

      This is not a reflection on the intelligence of Bahamians, it is a nod to the power of marketing. True, the Bahamian public is far more savvy than they were years ago. But so are young people in America, who are still being led around by their nose by big companies who know how to use marketing to sell whatever it is they have to offer.

      Throughout their term, the FNM failed miserably in getting their message out and getting Bahamians to see the good they’ve done, and they did do a lot of good. Thank you for your comments.

  6. Branville was on 2twice, why didn’t he won 1, Bamboo Town and 2, the Government.. SMT the Jack ass think he is a god aye!

  7. It is natural that your administrator would call Bahamians stupid for re-electing the Progressive Liberal Party as government. That has always been your take and so, you have exactly 60 months (or maybe more), who knows to rant and rave.

    My only suggestion to you is to remember that when the FNM won the last election, everyone agreed that the voice of the people was the voice of God. How quickly sentiments change right? Remember that it is those same people who voted the PLP back in office and you are clearly saying that “God” is stupid.

    Well go ahead and wallow in your ignorance, God has a way of righting wrongs and of “Setting up Governments and bringing them down”. I wish you a happy five years of Progressive Liberal Party Governance.

    1. Thank you for your feedback. Our Admin does not write the blog. It is written by our blogger, whose opinions do not always reflect those of the management of BahamasB2B.com.

      Meanwhile, our News is contributed by members of the community, like yourself, and opinions vary widely.

  8. The FNM lost this election the day they won the last election, because whoever was in power from 2008 onward, when the global and therefore Bahamian economy went south, literally, was never going to win the next (this) election. Despite most of the economic woes being faced by the Bahamian public being completely out of the hands of the Bahamian government, who does the public blame when they’ve lost their job, have hours reduced, see income dwindle due to a lack of customers (tourists)?

    All the other reasons given (increased crime/murder rate, slow road construction, lack of growth, poor marketing by the FNM…) all contributed to the FNM’s demise. But there has seldom been a government in any country that has survived a serious economic downturn unscathed, whether they we to blame or not.

    1. You touched on tourism and my question is to the P.L.P if you are so concerned with Tourism and the well being of the Bahamian people and the economy as you say you are then you should lock your campaign advertising people in jail and throw away the key. You can’t be serious about jobs and tourism and let your people put huge billboards out west bay street advertising the amount of crime and murders right where all the tourists traveling West Bay Street could be scared out of their minds…. Job well done Mr Christie..

  9. Whatever the reason – two things resonate with me :

    1. The BOYS are back – Brave, Shayne, Leslie, Jerome and Big Bad Brad – At least the FNM kept their deals – like the APD Port on the up and up.

    2. Branville got what he wanted – Get rid of Ingraham. Let’s face it – The DNA was formed by disaffected FNM’s who 75 % would have voted FNM without the DNA. 8-10 Seats were won by the PLP with enough votes going to the DNA.

  10. I think we are looking at this all wrong. The PLP did not win the last election – the FNM lost it.

    My contention is that for the last ten years we have not had a winner in an election – we had losers. In 2002 the FNM lost the election (not that the PLP won), in 2007 the PLP lost the election (not that the FNM won) and finally now in 2012 the FNM lost the election again. Had we had a winner in any of those elections in the last 10 years we might have had a two term government.

    If the PLP wishes to get a second consecutive term they had better act as if they did not actually win and try to make sure they win the next one or they will be out again.

    1. FNM get over it the people have spoken they elected a government. That is what democracy is. Why do you want the people of the Bahamas to to vote FNM again… again… again? Democracy is having a choice, it is not your choice. They will get in without you help but with the help of Bahamian are you not Bahamian to build your country? At Government level there is no Party, it is ALL Bahamian, and that is what you are, I hope.

  11. Very interesting post, and I find myself actually agreeing with it. It’s true. A coworker of mine who spent most of his life in the USA (but is Bahamian) basically said the same thing happened in the last U.S elections…emotion was the main factor behind the election turning out the way it did. The PLP definitely played to the emotions of the people….one thing is for sure, the PLP know their people.

  12. All I am hearing is “Ring ting ting my girlfriend promise to buy me something” Peoples lives and lively hood is at jeporady, over priced food and struggling that is what is going on, and Gov big spending and nothing is been done for the people. Let’s see where all of this promises is going to get the Bahamain people. I watching and praying that it is not promise that means nothing but the blowing of hot air.

  13. I have seen several responses here suggesting that the PLP did not win the election, as much as the FNM lost it. This suggests that many Bahamians voted for the PLP just to spite, punish or get rid of the FNM.

    I wonder, how far would those voters would go to accomplish their goal?

    Would they, for example, vote instead for a newly formed party that has one disgruntled, fairly novice politician and a cadre of eager but unproven, inexperienced novices?

    Would they vote instead for a party that is running several men who have been embroiled in political scandals in the past and who have shown no reason to be trusted now?

    Would they vote instead for a party that has as its deputy leader a man who has become fabulously wealthy making sure that some of the biggest criminals in the country remain on the streets, instead of in jail?

    Would they vote instead for a party whose treasurer was indicted on money laundering charges?

    I wonder if voting vindictively is good for the country long term.

  14. Don you are so right.. The writer is so bias he/she is blind… People vote their pocket books and the fact is Bahamians in general have been left out.. You can not have 16% unemployment as a government and expect to be elected.. My good friend the former Minister of Education is dead wrong, it was not the “message” or marketing, it had more to do with “government policy”… Small business is the engine of all economies when you have a government the makes policies to hinder small business development then you will have high unemployment.. this high employment leads to crime and all sorts of social ills… The travesty of all of this is the indicators were there but were totally ignored… I will say this though … Every future government need to be mindful if you want to be re-elected you must do right by the Bahamian people because we will vote you out…

    1. This is a blog! Ergo, it is my opinion and would indeed reflect my personal bias. The PLP has shown me nothing but incompetence, cronyism and corruption. They need to prove to me that they are fair and balanced before they can expect me to see them that way. They need to show me that the PLP governs for the benefit ALL Bahamians not just party supporters. Only then would my bias dissipate.

    2. What is it about the tribalism of PLPs that causes so many of them to get their knickers so twisted?

      A few of the responses to this excellent and correctly positioned blog post were perceptive, but most were knee-jerk tribalism that simply amount to “How dare you insult my party”; the implication being that PLP supporters can express their bias for the PLP, but no one is allowed to express bias against the PLP.

  15. I will not take part in this negative attitude, Bahamians are building a nation. The majority voted a Government in so lets support the Bahamas in their choice for the next five years and then we can choose at the end of the five year period (democracy). We can build a good nation for the world to see if all links are strong, if we have a weak link we will break, I am not for that. Bahamians lets get to work, we have a lot to do and ALL Bahamians count, all Bahamians need to be on deck. I am proud to be a Bahamian!

    1. I admire your zeal. However, criticism is not a negative attitude, it is the practice of judging the merits and faults of something or someone in an articulate manner, which I believe I have done.

      You say “ALL Bahamians count”. Nice sentiment, let’s see if the new PLP government really believes that. All Bahamians didn’t count during Pindling’s victimizing administration and they didn’t during Mr Christie’s last administration, when not only FNM supporters were denied many benefits, but all Bahamians were ripped off in a series of scandals by many of the same people who are back in office.

      You know, it’s nice to wave the flag and get all pumped up for The Bahamas, but it takes more than talk and cheerleaders to make a great country. Let’s have a little less talk and a little more action please.

  16. Jobless, murders, and a PM who lost his way :

    “I am a one man band”
    Are reasons why the FNM LOST.

  17. You are certainly the thought leader on this subject. A week after your post, both major daily newspapers have now published articles with quotes that clearly show the reporters have read this blog, despite them not mentioning this website.

  18. Blogger, the people who do not quickly agree with your position simply do not understand marketing.

    Marketing is now about leadership, about leading a tribe, about assembling and connecting and interacting with a group of people on a mission. Marketing is creating a movement. (Seth Godin)

    You can see this in the 2008 U.S. presidential election and in the way emerging churches market themselves. It was most evident in this recent Bahamas election.

    Despite all the people who are giving all the reasons why they were unhappy with the FNM, it really boils down to the message and the way it was presented.

    Marketing was what got Bran McCartney as far as he did in a such a short amount of time and it was the reason for the PLP’s success at the polls.

    The FNM’s campaign can be summed up with the quote from the movie Cool Hand Luke: “What we’ve got here is (a) failure to communicate”.

    1. Marketing is a very important force, but not the all important force.

      Let’s get real here, people! The Bahamas is in a recession.

      Whenever a population suffers high unemployment rates of up to and over 15%, that’s a danger zone for any incumbent Government (just imagine the misery index in that – loss of homes, can’t keep lights on, can’t make car payments, unemployed, etc, etc, etc,).

      Now if someone can come up with a marketing strategy to convince the populace that those are not the facts… better yet, to change those facts and bring full employment, then the writer will have a case.

      I voted F.N.M, but, it was quite easy for me to have voted that way – thank God, I can pay my bills and am surviving. But, like so many others, if I had lost my house, or couldn’t make my rent, etc, etc, chances are, I would have voted P.L.P. So, I hope the P.L.P. doesn’t think it was about them. People who were (are) hurting, just wanted a viable change and, to them, there’s hope in change (now whether that pans out, is another matter).

      The fact of the matter is this: It was the economy stupid!

      Until the state of the U.S. economy changes for the better, the Bahamas’ economy will not change for the better. I, personally, believed that the Ingraham Administration managed well, under the circumstances.

      The same misery still exists. Now, Prime Minister Cristie is faced with the same issues as the previous Prime Minister. Now let’s see if he can work miracles.

      I must say, as a Bahamian, I do not appreciate the tone of the writer’s blog.

      I respect differing opinions, but what I don’t respect is demeaning Bahamians.

      1. Thank you for your comment. The PLP, with a recent history of scandals and incompetence were able to convince voters that they had the answers to the nation’s problems. The DNA, with no experience whatsoever, were able to convince (some) Bahamians that they deserve a chance. Both were examples of good marketing. The FNM, with a five-year record of astonishing nationwide improvements, were unable to convince voter’s to allow them to finish their agenda. That is very bad marketing.

        The fact of the matter is… it was the message. Even in the worst of times, a party can get relected. Just like in good times, say 2007, a party can get booted out, like the PLP did.

        You are right that the same misery exists and we’ll see how the PLP handles the challenge.

        As a Bahamian also, I do not understand what you did not appreciate in my tone, or how my post was demeaning to Bahamians. Please elaborate.

        BTW – It was another Bahamian, quoted in the Tribune, who called Bahamians “stupid”. I merely agreed. lol

  19. I am offended by your biased, poorly conceived observation of why the FNM lost. I am particularly offended by the continual suggestion that if you vote for the PLP you are illiterate and stupid. Somehow if you elect the PLP you are moving the country backward but if you vote for the DNA or the FNM you are moving the country forward. What rubbish!

    You suggest that the thousands persons who voted for the PLP voted on emotion while the FNMs voted on logic. What stupidity! You cannot reduce everything to marketing. The FNM was not short on marketing or sloganeering. I have a theory that since 1972 Bahamians have voted against parties rather than voting for parties. That theory might not be saying much for the FNM or PLP but I believe it is true. You cannot simply dismiss the high number of murders, the high national debt and unemployment, the sale of BTC or the huge cost overruns on the road works and claim credibly that they had no impact on the voters consideration. To insist that the PLP won simply because they packaged these emotive issues better than the FNM’s claim of We Deliver is denying the majority of Bahamians any sense of reason. That I cannot accept.

    What annoys me with your analysis, no that would be crediting you with some in depth scrutiny or study, yarn more accurately describes it, is the elitism that has crept into our body politic. We must be careful that we do not allow the insiduous culture of superiority come to define our politics.

    1. When one votes for a goverment composed of the same people they threw out of office five years earlier, that IS going backwards, and it shows a decision-making process with a high degree of emotion, rather than logic.

      If the FNM had started an earnest campaign, around the same time that Bran McCartney started his campaign (about 18 months before the election) they would have won. It IS a matter of marketing because most the problems (crime, unemployment, illegals etc) are societal problems that the FNM was efficiently addressing, but the people didn’t see that. That’s poor marketing.

      It took years to get Bahamian society into this mess, it will not be fixed in one five-year term, whether the government is FNM or PLP. If you really think Perry and his merry band are going to fix all of the problems you mentioned in just five years, you are dreaming. Wait five years and you will see that I am right.

    2. I just want to make sure I’ve got this right MO. With the country in bad economic shape, Bahamians voted back into power (pretty much) the same folks they voted out of power when the country was in good economic shape. Yeah, how’s that not stupid?

      1. THE FNM lost the election before the campaigning begun, our minds (Bahamians) were made up and the FNM had to go.

        Mr. Ingram did not want to listen to the concerns of the people whose businesses suffered from the road work and the sale of BTC, even after it was sold we accepted it. Shortly after hundreds of people who sold phone cards on the street had to give it up because the profit they would have made was reduce to merely nothing, they disappeared over night.

        That’s just two of the reasons our minds were made up, there are many more reasons, but to keep it short you can say it was an emotional election brought on by the bad treatment of the FNM who felt like they did not have to listen to the people.

        We love Mr. Ingraham enough to put him back in 2007 but we didn’t want him to take it for granted that no matter what he does to us, we will put him back. You only have to be 18 to vote and it was mostly young men on the streets who tried to make something for themselves with the economy the way it was then. They lost long time.

  20. The U.S. political consultants who created the PLP’s marketing campaign for the recent election not only agree with your blog post, they are laughing at the people who don’t.

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