Tag Archives: message

Post 2012 Changes

You can’t lose the way Republicans did in the Senate and give away possibly the most winnable Presidential election in 40 years without changing a few things.  Ben Howe at RedState has some great suggestions:

The overriding problem that we as a party have is that we have two distinct camps. The Tea Party wing and the Establishment wing. Whether or not the names are fair, they basically summarize what people have come to know as the competing interests in the party. Unfortunately, both miss the most crucial part of winning elections: messaging.

Our rhetoric must change. It must stop only preaching to the choir. What our messaging must do is inform and educate. Not only the portion of the electorate that we currently aren’t winning, but our own base as well. Too often I’ve heard the angry tones deriding the welfare recipient for being a taker instead of a producer. And while I agree with the sentiment that entitlements are bankrupting our country, the problem isn’t solved by simply adjusting the numbers. We can’t fix things by addressing the fiscal problems associated with entitlements until we’ve changed the minds of the people that are entitled.

But instead of working together on this messaging, we’re at each other’s throats pointing fingers and declaring that one side is the problem. The principled vs the strategic. The conservative vs the moderate. The Tea Party vs the Establishment. Both sides are wrong and both sides are right. We must be strategic and we must be principled. But we must also be intelligent. We must also be compassionate. We must also be empathetic and we must also be clever.

Without those additional qualities we are doomed to continue failing to win while retaining our principles, or sacrificing our principles to achieve our victories.

I spent the last four years fighting. That much will remain the same but added to that list, and I hope for the Republican Party as well, will be working to craft our message so that it appeals to the people that don’t vote for us yet. Honesty and principles must prevail. If not then what’s the point of fighting? The cost of winning can’t be so high that we lose ourselves. But our ability to explain how & why others should agree with us must improve.

What’s the Matter With Ohio?

OHIO UPDATE: CNN/ORC will be releasing a poll of likely Ohio voters at 4PM EST

Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times report some great details on the Romney Ohio campaign operation and why the problem may not be the candidate but the message.  Tons of “read between the line” moments in the write-up:

[A]s the race for the White House takes on a new air of volatility after President Obama’s off-kilter debate performance last week — a poll from the nonpartisan Pew Research Center on Monday suggested that Mr. Romney had wiped out the president’s lead among voters nationally — Mr. Romney is displaying new vigor in his fight for Ohio. The state, along with Florida, Iowa and Virginia, is now at the heart of his strategy for the remaining 28 days of the campaign.

Ground game and voter registration

Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney are both visiting Ohio on Tuesday, the final day of voter registration here …

Romney commitment

… but Mr. Romney is sticking around for one of his most intensive bursts of campaigning yet. His increased presence is a response to pleas from state Republican leaders to invest more time and attention in the regions where he needs to turn out voters.

It’s the message not the candidate

For the first time, Mr. Romney is personally making his case in a new television ad, saying, “Ohio families can’t afford four more years like the last four.” The message, while hardly novel, is welcome among Republicans who have watched with frustration as Mr. Obama’s campaign has dominated airwaves for weeks with a tailor-made operation in Ohio. Mr. Romney’s problems here have included the Obama campaign’s success at defining him to many voters over the summer as an out-of-touch corporate raider, as well as a state economy that has been more vibrant than the country’s over all. With both the state and national unemployment rates now below 8 percent, Mr. Romney may have less opportunity than he did earlier this year to convince voters when he asks them in his new ad, “The question Ohio families are asking is ‘Who can bring back the jobs?’ ”

Ad wars

The president’s campaign has overwhelmed Mr. Romney until now in television advertising. In Youngstown, Mr. Romney and his allied groups ran virtually no advertisements through much of September, as Mr. Obama and his Democratic allies showed their ads more than 1,100 times, according to data compiled by the media monitoring firm Kantar Media/CMAG. Mr. Romney has now increased his advertising in smaller markets across the state, including Youngstown, Zanesville and Lima. He is scheduled to travel the state on Tuesday and Wednesday with Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey at his side, hoping to keep enthusiasm high among Republicans who have been showing up in greater numbers at volunteer centers across the state this week.

Targeting women

Republican strategists in Ohio said Mr. Romney needed to increase his support among women, particularly in suburban areas. Requests from state Republicans for a television commercial featuring Ann Romney have not yet been approved by the campaign headquarters in Boston.

This is huge.  Basically the people that know Ohio aren’t being listened to.  This is bad, bad, bad.  The best managers hire smart people and then listen to them.  Rob Portman is supposed to be Mr. Ohio so if he is one of the advocates for this type of ad Mitt Romney needs to step in and unclog the bottleneck in “Boston” (i.e. some campaign bureaucrat clogging up the system).

Geographic focus

But Mr. Romney is now trying to focus his appeal to specific voters in each corner of Ohio, with a focus on coal production in the southeast, conservative values in the southwest and a bipartisan pitch in the suburbs of Cleveland. In that area, George V. Voinovich, a former senator and governor, declares in a new radio ad, “Mitt Romney will bring us together and end the divisiveness we have seen in Washington.”

State of the Race — Mark Halperin

Between the volatility in the polls and the ever changing campaign themes (at least from the Obama camp), it is sometimes easy to get lost in the weeds.  Mark Halperin takes a step back and identifies the fundamentals that should continue to drive this race through election day (or at least the next debate):

One, Romney’s campaign trail performance is without a doubt better than it was before, but it is also getting more attention and being given gentler reviews by voters and the Gang of 500. As long as the Republican is on a roll, even the Old Romney will be seen through new, more forgiving eyes.

This is both the bandwagon effect (everyone likes a winner) plus a tacit admission the media were covering Romney unfairly prior to his debate performance.  The media will want access to a Romney Administration so they need to curry favor and cover for their all-out advocacy over the prior months.

Two, the message discipline reversal continues. Romney is running on a theme he can sustain through Election Day (“we can’t afford four more years of Obama”), while Chicago has switched from “Romney is an extremist” to “Romney is a liar who hates Big Bird.” The Obama campaign has some sorting out to do on this, especially in the eyes of the Gang, and, perhaps, with voters.

This is a big deal.  The Obama campaign has no second term agenda that even their staunchest advocates in the media reluctantly concede. Ever since the disastrous first debate performance their campaign and messaging has been floundering while the Romney campaign has sprouted wings. Even today’s juxtaposed Sesame Street ads speak to a substance-less Obama message versus a wonderful jiujitsu reversal to substantive issues like Syria and jobs in the Sesame Street/RNC graphic.

Third, momentum and confidence matter a lot in politics. Until at least the next debate on October 16, Romney and his forces are likely to have more of both, barring some huge intervening event.

This is a cautionary warning to the Romney campaign that folds into the prior point of message discipline. The Romney campaign in the primaries and even during the general election had an uncanny ability to steal its own thunder when events and momentum were on its side.  Coming out of the debate the campaign has achieved the opposite by augmenting their advantages most notably with Romney opening up about the incredible and poignant service he has done in his community for many years with no fanfare.  Absent Europe collapsing (still possible) or another terrorist attack the current framing and construct of the campaign should last until the next Presidential debate — sorry Paul, the VP debate doesn’t matter, just ask President Dukakis.

Fourth, while the horserace poll numbers are eye-catching, watch to see if there is Romney improvement on “cares about people like me” questions and on “has better ideas on the economy and jobs.” Those are among the most critical areas.

There’s more to the empathy issue than meets the eye. While economy and jobs are the overriding principles of this election, we’re down a single percent of Undecided/persuadable voters.  And when they are in the voting booth they need to “feel” comfortable with Mitt Romney.  He’ll never come close to passing President Obama in this category ahead of the election but it would hugely valuable if this softer-side metric continued to rise as the public sees the different side of Romney evidenced by the personal stories he shares.

Fifth, and most important, the President still has an advantage in the Electoral College, both in the individual battlegrounds and in terms of more paths to 270. Whatever progress Romney has made in the wake of Denver, he hasn’t eliminated the Obama edge there, and, obviously, nothing else really matters.

This is the reality of incumbency and what ever more looks like a the 50/50 electorate we had in 2000 and 2004. Obama’s support may be soft underneath in any number of states, but he does have a base support that gets him all the way to 47% no matter how you slice the electorate. It only takes a small amount more to put him over the top.