Monday, May 22, 2006

Strategy ??

Republican consultants are talking about how to win the mid-term election. The President evidently needs a boost, so Hayden's CIA hearings need to be contentious - with the Republicans coming out strong on anti-terrorism, privacy issues wimpy, a Gay Marriage Amendment to stoke the base, a play for the President as creating an illegal immigration resolution. He needs a poll bounce, especially with the "base."

Moving on to the race for seats, consultant thinking seems to be to play a "card" that if you don't trust Republicans, Democrats are worse. Also tie candidates to the DLC and Howard Dean, their thinking is scarier than the President's, is the line. As a sub-text is a Nancy Pelosi led Congress stalling government with endless subpoenas and investigations.

Since polling shows a pretty general dissatisfaction with Congress, there might be some traction for Republicans there. The real counter a challenger has for that argument is running as an outsider, untainted by Congressional BS. That's a tough argument to make in some races where DLC is heavily involved, but my opinion is that a distance from the Congressional power blocs is needed.

There's little a challenger can do about the President's agenda, except to carefully de-construct it into it's real components and challenge those. For example, coming out against Hayden does not address the actual problem which is not Hayden, but Fourth Amendment violations and the accelerating intrusion of government into private citizen's lives. That will actually play to some Republicans, while Hayden's confirmation hearings will be over by election time and being linked to any perceived partisan dispute is a loser.

But here's the real deal, if the President's numbers stay down and his righteous base and fiscal conservative Republicans continue to feel insulted, those voters may stay out. It is important to not energize those folks by making inflammatory statements. As an example, coming out supporting gays paints the candidate as morally dangerous, however, stating an opposition to a Constitutional creation of a second class citizenship gains the high ground without creating an image of support for a lifestyle the majority of Americans don't care for. The link that cannot be made is for a candidate to be seen as espousing that lifestyle, it is important to stay out of the emotional quagmire, and as a sexual issue it is an emotional quagmire. Scaring the fiscal conservatives is equally dangerous, the President has done that damage, leaving them to stew in their own juices is the best course. No Democrat who cares about social programs is going to be able to court that vote, the idea is to leave them alone.

Here's the sticky part, the Democrats have to turn out and the Independents have to be out and swayed. The real problem isn't so much pleasing these voters, the President and Congress have done the work of displeasing them, the work is making them care enough to vote. That's a tough one when so much of the public is disenchanted with its elected officials, that discontent rubs off on everyone. "I'm not one of them," helps to a certain extent, but getting the people you want to the polls takes much more than political statements.

The voters need to be reminded that they are important, that their vote carries real weight and does determine the direction of society. That's out of the candidate's hands, that takes face time and persuasion, something that has to be done locally. Letters to the editor, speeches, etc only reach the active voter, there are no good mass contact methods for reaching the disenchanted or apathetic available to low dollar campaigns. So the candidate needs to activate the troops sufficiently to get that kind of commitment.

If you're an active supporter, you already understand what needs to be done, if you're just tired of the current administration, it won't go away without some real serious help.