I’m reading a lot about how “stunning” Hillary’s come from
behind win in New Hampshire was. For those of us who use the five-element story
model to follow campaigns there is nothing all that surprising about it Which doesn’t mean it isn’t fascinating.
As we said a few days back when you pitch a story it is often best to present the elements
sequentially. First you build passion to capture attention (fire), then you
provide a common point of view – a hero – so you and your audience have common
ground (earth), then you define an obstacle or antagonist and dive into the
struggle (water), which leads to a moment of heightened awareness and
inspiration (air) and that awareness triggers a transformation – the change you
are trying to achieve (space). This is how a good stump speech works and this same
sequence is built into the structure of the primary campaign season.
No one had to plan to do it that way. It is the natural
result of our neurobiology. The story elements are built into the nature of our
minds. We go into this in greater detail in our book The Elements of
This sequence plays out across the state primaries and each
state gives a home field advantage to a candidate with a particular elemental
strength. Earth relates to hero, and “the granite state” is going to give home
field advantage to earthy, heroic candidates who have solid records to stand
on, and have reached out to clearly defined constituencies with strong brand
bonding (more on this later). With the state motto “Live Free or Die” the
people of New Hampshire clearly take their heroes very seriously.
So two heroes won in New Hampshire. John McCain, a certified
war hero, and Hillary Clinton, the stand-by-your-man heroine of one of the
longest running soap operas to ever occupy the White House. It is sort of “no