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Yang Seizes the Storytelling Moment

Aug. 20 2019

In our recent post-debate roundup, we pointed out that longshot presidential candidate Andrew Yang earned the highest scores, of any candidate, in our Strategic Storytelling Index. Yang knew he had just that single, one-minute chance at the opening statement to stand out on the debate stage before a dizzying two-hour display of policy discussion would ensue. He executed on every one of the 60 seconds he was granted. It was carpe diem at its finest in Detroit.

During his statement, one powerful line delivered in the middle—“The opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes math”—was bracketed by a compelling beginning and end that, altogether, connected with Republican, Democrat and Independent voters alike, across all age groups. The Strategic Storytelling Index measures candidates’ ability to deliver on the essential storytelling elements of delight, wisdom and wonder, and for the first time this election cycle, the end result wasn’t just a number.

Soon after the debates, Yang eclipsed 2018’s insurgent Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke in the polls, and qualified for the main debate stage next month in Houston. The criteria were to secure 2% support across four polls along with a minimum fundraising number from independent donors by August 28, which Yang achieved at just the right time—with one, simple, digestible message in story form.

Yang gets the spotlight, and the wonder boy Gen Xer who almost took down “lyin’” Ted Cruz officially drops from leader to longshot.

That’s the power of effective storytelling.

There’s a long way to go in the ultra-marathon that is the presidential race. But Yang selected precisely the right moment to break into a one-minute sprint to secure his spot in the next leg. Other candidates hoping to separate themselves from the pack would be wise to follow his example and find the right moment and medium in which to tell a compelling story. It will mean the difference between staying with the leaders or falling farther behind.