You’ve done your required reading, right?
I could probably write ten thousand words about the pair of NYT articles I’ve begged people to read, but I’ll keep my response to a few select points.
Overall I find little fault with the article’s take on this issue. One simple graph makes that apparent. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.
From what I can gather from various reports about the Romney strategy, there really was no messaging strategy. They decided to make one last go at the white-majority strategy, with catastrophic results. As pollster Kristen Anderson was quoted in the NYT piece, “Did you not see the census? Because there was one! And it had some pretty big news — like that America’s biggest growing population is the Latino community! Surprise, surprise! How have we not grasped that this is going to be really important?”
We’ve known about the diminishing white majority for some time. We didn’t just wake up one morning to a bunch of Latin-American immigrants and their children.
The excuse of the bad polling model not is a very good one. Not because it was impossible to have gotten that wrong, but because the strategy they decided to implement was a narrow, skin-of-your-teeth strategy that required every last thing to go right with no margin of error, even if they did manage to get the demographic weighting right, which they didn’t. There was no room in the Romney strategy for expansion. No room to persuade anybody, and the results show it.
Issues and Deal Breakers
Issues have some importance, though not all issues are created equal. The evidence that people really don’t vote exclusively on issues keeps piling up. I might even be persuaded to argue that issues are not even of primary importance. There are certain issues though –the deal-breakers– that deserve some attention.
In my opinion, abortion and the entirely fabricated birth control issue should not be deal breakers for most swing voters. (For the sake of brevity, I’ll leave it at that.) Same-sex marriage may for some folks be a deal-breaker, though I can’t imagine it’s too terribly many since Obama ran in 2008 on a tepidly anti-SSM position. At the very least SSM combines with abortion and birth control to create a social super-issue. I really don’t have a good answer to this, though I would like to point out something that rubbed me the wrong way. The above-mentioned Kristen Anderson was said to identify herself as “socially tolerant” rather than “moderate”, as “moderate” is something like “Satanic” to base conservatives. I object to this supposedly improved designation on the grounds that everybody else must be “intolerant” if they object to gay marriage. I suggest reworking this, perhaps to “libertarian”.
Immigration reform is a deal-breaker for Hispanics. No, it is not going to mean Hispanics will suddenly wake up to Republicanism. It means we get an opportunity to make our case. And yes, as the article suggests, Rubio qua Rubio will not save us.
Nobody Ever Gets Fired
“I think there’s a very incestuous community of consultants who profit off certain tactics, and that creates bias and inhibits innovation.”
I’ve been complaining about this for a long time. If major changes don’t occur in the wake of 2012, the GOP should just pack up shop.
More than Tech – The Tin Ear problem
Of course, the problem is much greater than just the internet and social media. (I think most of the subjects interviewed in the article would agree to that general proposition.)
A major component of the techie complaint is that the Romney team ran an old-style TV and traditional media campaign. This is true, but I would also argue that even on traditional grounds the Romney camp exhibited a lackluster showing. They seem to have regressed from the Bush-era campaigns. “Applebee’s America” was published in 2006, so long ago that its antiquated title sells short the wisdom within its pages. Democratic campaign operations have taken this wisdom and expanded upon it. It seems to be a remedial reading recommendation for the Romney campaign.
Something the NYT article doesn’t directly address is what I’ll call the “tin ear” problem. Do Republicans not understand how they sound?
How many times lately have you heard the term “balanced approach”? How many times have you heard a Republican competently respond to that phrase? Even Deval Patrick and Harold Ford Jr recently talked about “economic growth” on Sunday morning talk shows. Most astonishing to me is the jujitsu reversal Obama has managed on closing tax loopholes. This is a Republican issue! Yet somehow Obama has made Congressional Republicans defenders of everything that is wrong with the tax code.
Do they not understand how badly they are being beaten? The more I see this pattern of behavior, the more I am convinced that they really don’t get it.
Forget “rapid response”, there’s not even a competent slow-response team.
Sometimes I think our problem is so enormous it would be easier to teach chimpanzees to fly F-16s.