“Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch-A-Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all of over again. But I will say, if you look at the exit polling data in Illinois, you’ll see that Mitt Romney is broadly acceptable to most of the factions in the party. You have to do that in order to become the nominee…” ~ Eric Fehrnstrom, Mitt Romney 2012 Campaign Communications Director, as quoted here.
Democrats should be proud. Many of their core positions won over voters this past election day. Unfortunately, their candidates didn’t. What’s wrong with this picture?
The problem in our elections, aside from abysmal turnout, is this:
- 20% of Dem voters would vote for a yellow dog
- 20% of GOP voters would vote for Charlton Heston, even though he’s dead.
- 40% of Dem or GOP voters would vote for almost any candidate of their party, which usually means that about 80% of the electorate is usually not in play.
This leaves the 20% of voters (so-called “Undecideds”, sometimes known as “Low Information Voters”) who only start to pay attention to what politicians are saying and doing for 4-8 weeks before election day. This is why Romney’s campaign manager talked about the “Etch-a-sketch” strategy: Just start the campaign over, because no one who matters (the 20% who are ‘swing voters’) will know or recall any of the contradictory stuff you’ve been saying or doing for years prior.
So one of the big challenges Dems have (aside from turning out their base) is how to get as many of those “20 per centers” as possible realize that politics affects their daily lives, and to pay attention most of the time between elections.
If your positions are going to win on ballots (like raising the minimum wage, Kentucky’s ACA/Obamacare medical insurance exchange, fighting voter suppression, etc.), then your candidates should also win.
If there is a disconnect between winning positions and winning candidates, you’re doing something seriously wrong.