Aftermath Part II – What to do next, where we went wrong, and how to improve.
Posted by iusbvision on November 3, 2010
Every Republican activist should read this post.
Thought to keep in mind: even though yesterday was a massive Republican/Tea Party blow out there were still many close races where our team lost by VERY close margins.
I will start with The Walorski/Donnelly race right here in Indiana 2.
I – First thing’s first, Indiana 2 was gerrymandered to make it so a Republican could never hold this seat again as much of Elkhart County was gerrymandered out of the district. District lines should reflect communities and it is a no-brainer that Elkhart is a part of our community. If not for outrageous gerrymandering (really you should see the crazy way Democrats carved up Elkhart) Walorski would have won. More on this issue below.
Conservatives outvoted Donnelly last night. Libertarian Mark Vogel pulled almost 10,000 votes while Jackie lost by just over 2,500. Politico.com had something to say about this:
My colleague Kasie Hunt had a great story last week on stealth Democratic support for conservative third parties.
One place it worked: Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) narrowly edged out his GOP opponent by about 2,500 votes, while Mark Vogel, the Libertarian in the race netted almost 10,000 votes. Indiana Democrats spent about $15,000 dollars on a targeted mailer touting Vogel as the true conservative candidate in the race.
One consequence: Republicans will have even fewer scruples about aggressive efforts on behalf of the Green Party in 2012.
When gerrymandering is taken into consideration, the way that the voters have rejected the Democrat leadership is truly remarkable. There were many races where “impossible to defeat” Democrat incumbents either lost or skirted by with a few votes to spare. This brings us to….
II – Republicans took the Indiana House back last night (Grats Tim Wesco!) and when you consider the number of House races we lost due to gerrymandering (quite literally as much as two dozen) it becomes more and more clear that voters and conservative activists have to spend more time and attention on state legislature races. This very writer is guilty of this but has learned his lesson. I hope you will too. On a bright note many states including several in the East had victorious Republican state legislature blowouts that have not been seen in 100 years. This means that in 2012 districts will not be gerrymandered into silliness. Expect the now proven corrupt (more on this tomorrow) Obama justice department to sue over every district redrawn by these new state legislatures so start preparing for that now.
We have great state legislators like Joe Zakas, we should start talking him up and featuring his (and others) substantive accomplishments in mini-ads and posters to engage in a partial permanent campaign to educate voters on how Republican state legislators improve the lives of Hoosiers every day. For Example create a system of mini-posters of revolving internet mini-ads, Facebook status’, tweets, trading cards etc :
Did you know that Joe Zakas lead your Indiana Republicans and provided our local magistrates with additional authority, such as the ability to issue protective orders to combat domestic violence. That was a serious and creative response to an important need. Eventually it became model legislation. Now, Joe’s language is applied not just in St. Joseph County but across the state, improving Indiana’s court system, making it more efficient. You’ll find it in IC 33-23-5-5 (15).
The same can be done for all sorts of things the GOP has done to help improve the lives of people in need every day. I can even see putting little snippets like this on the back of business cards, which brings us to …
III -There were many close races even in traditional Democrat strongholds. Here in South Bend several people running for office like Deb Fleming only lost by a handful of votes. This proves that typically Democratic learning voters are willing to vote for a great GOP candidates (many House and Senate races where Republicans were thought to have no chance demonstrate this as well) . The national and state parties need to wage a teaching campaign to help educate voters. Democrats and Republicans know that the more accurate information voters have the better it is for traditional/conservative candidates.
This teaching campaign also needs to include a key element: the time has come for black voters to come back home to the GOP. The GOP needs to aggressively target black voters. Any examination of our inner cities where progressive politicians have had unrestrained power shows clearly how Democrats have not just let black Americans down, but have thrown them under the bus. The other issue to create a wedge is the status of inner city public schools where Obama, the Democratic leadership in league with the corrupt teachers unions have fought tooth and nail to keep minority inner city schools stuck in the status quo. Many people are not aware of this but there is substantial new evidence that proves that bad schools are not a result of bad neighborhoods, but rather bad neighborhoods are a result of bad schools (The documentary “Waiting for Superman” in theaters now highlighted some of this evidence). Black Americans overwhelmingly agree with the GOP when it comes to education reform.
This ad is a good example of how to get started:
When Carl Baxmeyer ran for office he did pretty good on the West Side for a Republican because he actually went there and asked for their vote. We need a communications machine that goes to the inner cities and gets in their face, but in a good way.
A good start would be for the likely new incoming Speaker Boehner as his first act to appoint Allen West as speaker for the day and have Pelosi pass the gavel to him (bold as hell isn’t it, but its a good start).
Allen West –
When the redistricting takes place the racial incitement rhetoric from the far left will begin so we need to have a communications offensive underway.
Look at this man in the video below. See that he has been whipped up by the incitement rhetoric of the far left. I would like to ask him a question: What has the NAACP done for you lately? Sure you can tell me all sorts of things they did in the 50’s and 60’s when the NAACP was a solidly Republican organization, but what have they done for you lately? Martin Luther King would be marching on inner city public schools and teachers union halls, why aren’t they? Why are they fighting to preserve the status quo? They have sold out to the far left for money and power haven’t they?Does the man in this video look satisfied with government?
If the GOP can make gains among black voters it could even make St. Joe County a Republican stronghold permanently.
IV – GOP Communications are often uncreative, ineffective and worn out. As fine a candidate and a leader Jacki Walorski is, IMO her communications machine has a long list of missed opportunities and her campaign wasn’t the only one by a long shot.
I look at the ads that ignore basic communications realities such as “the medium is the message” (an academic term that will take too long to explain here). I see the same tired old ads from our GOP with the candidate around table with blue prints on it, or the candidate in a hard hat pointing to something off camera that isn’t there…. let me be clear… the attention level of the electorate has changed and the type of ads that Chris Chocola ran in 2006 and have been run by so many candidates in this cycle are much less effective. Why?
It used to be that when organizations like Gallup and Rasmussen gave survey’s to test voter knowledge of the issues the results use dto look like this :
Republican voters would average 8 out of 10 issue questions correct
Independents would average 3 out of 10 questions correct
Democrats would average 4 or 5 questions correct.
Starting in 2009 something changed that many people (including myself) thought we would never see:
Republican voters would average 8 out of 10 issue questions correct
Independents would average 7 out of 10 questions correct
Democrats would average 4 questions correct.
The GOP communications old guard has not pivoted or changed to reflect this new reality and make no mistake, this new political reality changes everything. The GOP needs to have more Socratic and substantive ads and communications. We need to prepare our candidates in more direct and substantive way to articulate the truth. Look at the ads by Allen West and Michele Bachman and even the radio ads by former Congressman Mark Souder, they were tremendously effective. Look at New Jersey where Governor Chris Chrsitie uses a Socratic, blunt, direct style of communicating and he is winning the PR battle against the Democrats and the rich teachers union (that union makes 130 million a year in dues), in an overwhelming Democrat state, using Youtube. Even the leftists at the Today Show loves this guy.
Chris Christie’s communications strategy is the same as my own. When it comes to the voters talk to them like adults and do not patronize them. When it comes to political enemies and those who put self over service my attitude and the strategy is this: I win. You lose. The people respond to this in a big way including traditional Democrat voters. Here are some links with some examples:
The video that started it all –
Christie vs leftist talking point hack 2 – LINK
If I was in charge of GOP communications my TV ads would have gone something like the following. I would have had Jackie in front of the old White Hall plant and explained how those good jobs were taxed and regulated right out of the country. Then I would have taken her to Elkhart and Mishawaka Bayer and had her explain to voters how these jobs are threatened because of Donnelly’s new tax on medical devices. Than I would have taken her to the Miles Labs plant on Bieger Street where they used to make Alka Selter etc and explain how Donnelly’s new taxes on our medicines and new restrictions on using Health Savings Accounts for certain medicines hurts these jobs and helps send more away.You see, a well done Socratic ad when it comes on TV the first thought that enters their mind is “Hey there’s Jackie” instead of “Oh crap not another one of those ads” as soon as they hear the spooky music and see the first grainy picture. The health care bill was another missed opportunity. Sure Walorski’s ads tied Donnelly to it but many voters did not understand how it hurt their community directly. The ads I proposed would have taken that issue, brought it right home and in the voters face and shoved that terrible legislation right down Donnelly’s throat.
Jackie is an awesome person, but in my view her ads fell short of taking advantage of her personality or showing just how special she is. More Socratic ads would have helped to address that problem. Also on a minor point; in my opinion Jackie was a little too nice to Joe and let me explain what I mean by this. Those of us who have seen Jackie in action know she can get very tough with someone who is doing wrong, but when Joe Donnelly lies to her face and impunes her with bull-crap that can’t withstand a few minutes of intellectual scrutiny I did not see Jackie display the righteous indignation she was full well entitled to. It is possible to be a little too slick. It is better show a little more humanity (and even be a tad more flawed) as people can relate to that person better (a little too much humanity like with the early, missteps on the Sharon Angle campaign should be avoided).
V – Avoiding Missteps. Last but not least, the Sharon Angle race was winnable and so were several others. The GOP needs to have communications pro’s that understand today’s political reality. Many of our candidates are doers, not talkers. To compensate for that our communications teams need to come up with scripts and ads that best articulate the candidates own ideas and defend them from assault. I am not talking about assembly line talking points. What I am talking about is taking each candidate’s ideas and coming up with creative ways of presenting and defending them. We need more mock debate prep behind the scenes to get the candidate ready for prime time and an elite media who will be out to destroy them. Like I said our candidates tend to be doers not talkers, so we need to learn to avoid the consequences of a good idea being articulated in a bad way that gives the media or an opponent something to jump on (like what happened to Rand Paul early on, fortunately he was able to recover).