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Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Presidential Swing Voters

Here is a thought experiment for you.

What if the true swing voters are not moderate at all? What if they have no real political thoughts and are neither for nor against anything? They can’t be moderate because that would mean having an opinion on events and policies. What if the 10% that crosses back and forth between voting for Republicans and Democrats does so ONLY based on the brand identity of the candidate? They vote for the guy they “like” - as in the phrase “I don’t know, I just like the guy.”

I think Howard Dean could have picked up that 10%, but that is water under the bridge. Who among the current Democrats has the best chance of picking up that 10%? Who has the “I just like the guy” vote right now?

Note: This is not the "He can win" argument. The "he can win" argument gave us Kerry. This is the "he kicks ass" argument.

Percentages mean nothing, popular vote totals mean nothing. The thing to watch is the state-by-state electoral math. Any Dem who can win one or two red states wins it all.
If that 10% is so uninformed they are only voting on brand identity, the incumbent has a huge advantage. Usually the out party wins only when the incumbent screws up, which seems to be happening before our eyes.
The thing to watch is the state-by-state electoral math. Any Dem who can win one or two red states wins it all.

That is old losing-Dem-consultant-speak right there.

That electoral calculus jive did not work for either Kerry or Gore. That is a proven loser. Any Dem that wants to win will run a 50 state race, building a "kick ass" brand that appeals to the 10% of the uninformed in everystate.

So who is that guy right now? ...and don't make me use the word "jive" again.
If there is some northeastern liberal who can convince Florida or Ohio to vote for him or her, I'll send them my check tomorrow.

Don't knock the electoral calculus; it put the Republicans where they are today. Lately the GOP hasn't needed to sway 10% of the voters to win. They've been playing the electoral game, hammering the wedge issues and rigging the ballots in exactly the counties where they need the votes.

In 2000 the Dems came within one vote (Supreme Court votes, that is) of most likely winning it all. In 2004 the Dems came within a stadium-full of Ohio voters of winning.
Someone (Pat Buchanan ?) is reported to have said like, "You want to break the country and hope the biggest part falls in our lap." to Nixon when discussing the "southern strategy".

You want to fight the GOP over a few broken fragments of the country. I'd like to win the entire country back.
I think the 10% has been lulled by the fact that their standard of living has been propped up by GOP deficit spending and other accounting tricks (i.e., easy credit fueled by housing). Not being particularly aware of economic problems on the horizon, the 10% is thus free to be swayed by GOP wedge issues and rhetoric.

But once the economic chickens come home to roost, standard of living will begin to slip noticably and that 10% will have to give up pieces of their lifestyle, will blame the GOP, and will begin listening to Dems on the kitchen-table issues.
I do agree that the Dems should move back to Democratic values and stop trying to be Republicans.

But the more you think a candidate "kicks ass," the more vulnerable he will be to a "too liberal for America, outside the mainstream" attack. There needs to be an effective answer to that attack. Several answers have been tried already. Dean is very effective at correctly pointing out that voters agree with Democrats on most issues, but for all of that, at election time he still can't overcome the Rovian demagoguery. Hell, the Democrats tried to nullify the "soft on national security" attack by running a war hero, but that didn't work either.
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