23 September 2010

Democrats Alert: Change the Framework and Outcome in 2010

Yesterday, we wrote of the advantage that Republicans are gaining from angry and apathetic voters and the success they are having delivering a message of big-government spending and waste, federal take over, and a perceived failed economic policy.  Democrats, on the defensive, are losing donors and traditional big-dollar contributors who are sitting out 2010 preferring to rebuild for 2012.

A recent tracking poll and focus group  study conducted by Democracy Corps (Carville * Greenberg)suggests that Democrats can still overcome this powerful Republican message by changing the framework of the message to move young people, unmarried women, and minorities, and the more conservative white working class back to the Democrats. 

The essence of their study is that the election is not fixed in concrete and a tidal wave of Republican success is not inevitable.  Based on their study, they recommend several things.

First, Democrats must change the context of their message to that of an "against Wall Street outsider", saying, "We need to change Washington for the benefit of the middle-class".  This context moved 16 percent of voters to be more supportive of Democrats than Republicans.

Then, within that context and message, Democrats must communicate a real commitment to change Washington in order to take it out of the hands of Wall Street to the benefit of the middle class.  The issue is very clear, Democrats have to be reformers reigning in corporate power.

Democrats would weaken this message if they engage in attacks on Republicans for spending cuts harming the middle class.  While this particular message has resonance and generates head nods of agreement, it does not move voters as effectively as does hearing of the determination of the candidate to change Washington first!

Finally, lip-service will not suffice.  Voters want to know precisely how the candidate will help the middle-class, how corporate spending will be brought under control, and, maybe most importantly, has the candidate "walked in our shoes"?

Democrats must overcome the perception that they have gone Washington, backed bailouts, forgotten all their previous campaign promises, and are cashing in. Despite all this baggage being toted by Democrats, Republicans remain very suspect, and can quickly lose what is a rather tenuous support growing out of emotionally volatile feelings of despair, anger, and apathy.

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