The world of politics has a wonderful way of creating it’s own terminology or recreating existing language to illustrate a problem or condition. Terms like “Big Mo”, “wedge issues”, “hanging chads”, “points of light”, “macaca”,and-of course- “chich-slapped” are all terms that have come to the fore as a result of their use in the political arena.
Today I discovrered a new one: Hockey Stick Moment
Chuck Todd has grabbed this term from start up businesses and applied it to national candidacies. He describes the term as meaning:
The point in a graph where a company’s profits skyrocket from being comfortable but flat (like the face of the hockey stick) to a peak (like the handle of the hockey stick).
Todd also suggests that sometimes leaders do not realize they are having the HSM, and that sometimes it is a reverse HSM, and represents a precipitous decline. Todd further states:
The one thing all of these “hockey stick” candidates have in common is that they burst on the political scene out of nowhere to become either the establishment candidate of their party (e.g., Clinton, Bush and Carter) or a big scare for the establishment (e.g., Dean and McCain).
This piquant turn of phrase is not only quite descriptive but also quite appropriate this year. The nominating season used to be several months long, and candidates could use early caucus and primary victories to build credibility and build a constantly growing momentum, as well as pick up needed funding along the way. Now, everyone wants to be first…both parties think it is wrong that the comparatively small states of Iowa and NH have a disproportinate influence on who wins the nomination, and larger states are trying to schedule their primaries earlier.
This shrinking season means that candidacies must be announced earlier, more money must be raised faster and earlier to reach possible caucus delegates and primary voters, and one must score fast and big to have a hope of securing the nod…moreover, there is less time to recover from an error (or, as Howard Dean once screamed, “YYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!”)
The point? It means that at the least all the second tier candidates must have and capitalize on a Hockey Stick Moment, or else they will get rolled by the larger dollar candidacies. They need to have that moment that sets them aside as a likely winner, or else they will get rolled as a better known and better financed candidate develops momentum and reaches terminal velocity.
Terminal Velocity, btw, will be the lingo contribution