>My life as Ross Perot

> And keeping up the populist theme, I missed the football once again to play Ross Perot’s 1992 campaign in the ever popular election simulation game President Forever. I had assumed that Perot was a rather way out populist but as the game and a little research make clear, the eccentric Texan billionaire had a moderately conservative – economically and socially liberal (pro-choice, anti-deficit) programme, which also favoured targeted federal spending increases on education and regeneration. He was economically nationalist –

indeed isolationist – favouring a restrictive stance on immigration, protection of domestic industry and an avoidance of foreign entanglement in Bosnia and Somail – and , of course, in favour of populist (perhaps in a US context I should write Populist) measures such as party funding reform, electronic town hall meetings etc. Nothing that wouldn’t look too out of place in a Demos pamphlet, it seems….

Using Perot’s financial clout and a bit of background knowledge gleaned from the excellent US Election Atlas site – I focused on a few states, hoping to win a few electoral college votes (which the real Perot never managed) and complicate the election of either George H W or Bill Clinton by denying either a majority in the electoral college – then I think it goes to the US Senate.

In the end, I managed win seven states (top left image), those where the real Perot polled best in 1992, Maine, Alaska and five states in the North West. I missed out on Montana and Kansas, but won 30 electoral colleague votes. I didn’t, however, manage to better the 19% of the national vote that the real Ross P got.Meanwhile a fairly even contest the two frontrunners turned into a Bush landslide, although both main protagonists ignored the Big Mo of my Perot campaign, which t focused resources on building up a campaign machine deploying by a big advertising budget in its populist heartland. American Election Atlas (map to the right) interestingly shows that these same states (Alaska and Maine excepted) were also the core of support for Populist Party in 1892.

A subsequent game (bottom left image) saw Perot achieve even greater success, taking 10 states, 21% of the national vote and 74 Electoral College votes. Here, in exaggerated the result echoed the real outcome in 1992. The big loser this time was George HW Bush, who with a mere 34% of the national poll was crushed by Clinton (some eight points ahead) taking only 134 Electoral College votes. Perot’s big prize this time was Texas, Bush’s home state, which the Perot campaign turned to late on in having secured commanding leads in the ‘populist states of the North West and won by 1% with 36% of the vote.

I think Ross P might with good luck and great tactics perhaps also have a chance at Florida and California, suggesting he could take a maximum of perhaps 170 Electoral College votes. Still way off the 270 needed to get to the White House.Still, I was very proud of myself, although true afficionandos on the game’s web forum claim Perot can actually win…

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