To win elections, run to the left…

Filed in National by on November 4, 2012

I don’t expect DC-bubble-dwelling-incumbent Democratic-shitheads like Tom Carper to ever get it, but pretending to be a Republican is unpopular among voters – while pretending to be a Democrat is popular. The proof is all around us. Even this Presidential election confirms it.

The data, however, suggest … that both candidates have benefited in the general election every time they have taken a left turn. President Obama was in deep political trouble 15 months ago when he cut the closest thing he could to a “grand bargain” with House Speaker John A. Boehner to slash the federal budget by trillions, and he did nothing for his popularity nine months earlier when he extended the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy. Not until he began talking like a populist did he begin picking up steam in the polls. Indeed, one of the most powerful messages the Democrats chose not to use in the 2010 midterm elections — which would have supported a policy that was extremely popular then and remains as popular now — was a simple message on taxes I tested nationally, which won in every region and with every demographic, including Tea Partyers: “In tough times like these, millionaires ought to be giving to charity, not getting it.” Once that position (and other populist appeals) became central to Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign, the election looked like it would be a rout.

BUT then in the first debate, Mr. Romney moved to the center, taking back his promise of tax cuts for the rich and proposing instead to let people choose which tax deductions they wanted to take (for their home mortgages, for example) but limiting the amount that can be deducted. Perhaps understandably, the president didn’t know what to do with a Republican challenger who was outflanking him half the time on his left, and suddenly the race was competitive again. For both men, a pragmatic left-hand turn helped them steer their way toward a middle class desperate for hope.

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Jason330 is a deep cover double agent working for the GOP. Don't tell anybody.

Comments (6)

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  1. Steve Newton says:

    The old wisdom (pre-2004) used to be to run to your base in the primaries and run back to the center in the General in order to go after the moderates in your own party (who don’t vote in primaries) and the undecided.

    In 2004 both W and Kerry seem to have made the calculation that there were too few true undecideds left, and more votes to be gained from running even further toward their bases. The strategy served Kerry pretty well, I think, as it got him a lot closer to winning than he would have with a more traditional approach.

    But I do think you are correct about the perception issue–especially for Presidents and Senators. There are three main areas in which people have deep feelings: foreign policy, the economy, and social issues. Foreign policy used to elect presidents–it hasn’t since 1992 (unless you count 2004, which I don’t). The economy will elect presidents when there is a clear choice, but this year although you may argue that there is a clear choice, I would argue that President Obama has not successfully articulated one. Blame it on Romney lying or media narratives, or whatever, but the economy is a very mushy issue in this election. Whatever you preference, you can find a media outlet to fill you with factoids to support it.

    That leaves social issues–and on that the Democrats will win hands down in the general election. The Republicans cannot allow social issues to become a main focus of an election because their base is not large enough to win it for them unless either (a) foreign policy seriously rears its head; (b) their candidate is already way ahead on economic issues; or (c) the opposing candidate is such a twit that he or she was going to lose anyway. (The parties do nominate those sorts of twits: Dukakis, Dole, McCain).

    So I think you are correct: Carper will win anyway but he could have demolished his divided opposition with an emphasis on social issues from a Dem perspective. He could not have run on economic issues from a Dem perspective because he actually has a record.

  2. cassandra_m says:

    First — I was definitely in John Kerry’s base and can state with some authority that he was NOT working at getting MY vote. Kerry could be credibly categorized as fairly conservative that election season, working at being moderate enough to 1) Convince Democrats in the primary that he was a guy that other people would vote for and 2) Convince independents that he could manage their safety. The candidate who ran as a (mostly) genuine liberal was Howard Dean and even he was more moderate than he got credit for. Kerry thought his base was independents and moderates of either party. And people voted for the real Republican in the race.

    In alot of ways, Mitt Romney is in John Kerry’s shoes this round. Kerry did not have to work as hard to consolidate his base, and Mitt didn’t get that really until the first debate. That was the only time he was free to stop being a “severe conservative” and pretend to some moderate cred. Team Obama lucked into the fact that Romney couldn’t lock down his base any earlier AND while Romney was locking down his base, they spent alot of time defining Mitt in some key places. Mitt is still recovering from that. Obama took up a number of populist messages that clear majorities think are correct, but the challenge is going to be governing via those messages.

    Second, there is plenty about Mr. Westen’s article that is a mess, but one thing to think about is that pragmatism is about moving to the left — not to the right as all too many Ds think. Pragmatism is based in getting work done for voters and not so much for the people who write campaign checks. It is the latter that generates so much cynicism about government AND drives too much of the agenda of Congress.

  3. puck says:

    Just win your election Mr. President. On Wednesday morning we can talk about whether his leftward movement will stick or was just a feint.

  4. anonymous says:

    How many New York and New Jersey republicans are now saying, I don’t want free gas; I don’t want clothes or a clean blanket; no security for the kids and family, no shelter, no Obamacare, no bottles of water, no meal, no FEMA application. Not too many. Millions are saying, help me.

    Republicans have no problem saying to hell with Americans in need, to hell with the government safety nets,
    (and those 47% Rmoney told millionaires he’ll ignore.) Republicans fail to think about fellow Americans as well as – to think what can happen to even wealthy republicans. Many are now on the street, hungry and cold looking for assistance. You can ignore your fellow Americans, but your house of cards can/and will get tossed by the winds as our government still stands, thanks to forward thinking Obama and the democrats.

    In addition, republicans need to stop ‘believing’ in Rmoney’s “Party of Denial,” and realize, yes, extreme storms caused by climate change are real, are happening, as legitimate climate scientists have been proving through science (and fossil fuel republicans have been denying through greed and lies,) for decades. What presidential candidate would call their party, “The Party of Denial?” Rmoney did. The Party of Deniers, is the Party of Liars. One can believe NOTHING a liar says.

    Or republicans can wear their Pinocchio noses then spite their own faces. Like (greed is good) Chrissy.

    As if “Climate Change is a hoax;” as if Bains Capital isn’t extreme greed enough, republicans who still don’t believe tea party republican is now the Party of Denial, lying millionaires, billionaires – see Kavips for the Willard Romney tax story. As if the last year’s tax represented the ‘true’ story that American voters should ‘believe.’

    http://www.dailykos.com/blog/kavips/

  5. cassandra_m says:

    Another Mike Protack sockpuppet moderated.

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