Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New Koch Brothers funded ad targets independents, sort of.

There has been much political fodder over the role that independents play in determining the outcome of Presidential elections. However, most wise big party political strategists realize that they must at some point try to catch the attentions of this group. As NTQ! blogger, Nathan Rothwell, pointed out, this may be more difficult for the Republicans to do than they realize. How does a party that plays on identity politics sway independent voters who feel they have been let down by the Obama administration? Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers funded SuperPAC, takes the "he's a nice guy, but ... " something vague about hope, something vague about change ... approach.

Addicting Info's Jack Watkins gives a breakdown of the ad:
Slick and potent in it’s non-vitriolic tone and, I think, likely to have the effect of reaching a lot of voters and give them reasons to just stay home, rather than actually motivating people to vote for Romney/Ryan. If it succeeds, it may cause people of that mindset to not pay much close attention to the rancor and debate going on in the campaign as it heats up and, just as the Obama team tries to focus the public’s attention on the devastating repercussions of a Romney presidency to all things that matter to these people. In short, I think its goal is yet a further form of voter disenfranchisement. I think the Republicans are playing a very cynical game here. Despite what every politician says (especially when they’re losing on message), they all pay attention to the polls.
A recent poll showing Obama being favored 2-1 by the 90 million eligible voters who are expected to NOT VOTE has got to scare the hell out of the Romney/Ryan team. Heavy turnout means certain defeat. Short of an economic meltdown on the order of 2008 or some other catastrophic world event, the Romney campaign is just not capable of swaying a majority of ALL Americans – even with 8% unemployment – to dump the president. He’s just too nice a guy. Too many Americans still remember the Bush/Cheney years and, it’s no accident that those two miscreants will be nowhere near the upcoming Republican Convention in Florida.
You may see John McCain, but you won’t see Sarah Palin, the Republican strategists have rightly (shrewdly) concluded that “Caribou Barbie” Dubya & Cheney just won’t play well in prime time, when forty or fifty million Americans…many of them independent swing voters will be watching. There will be more than enough anti-Obama “fire and brimstone” delivered by keynoter New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and the other usual suspects. So there’s no sense in also reminding America how we got where we are by trotting out those who got us there. They need to depress voter turnout with messaging as well as voter disenfranchisement measures like the Photo I.D. laws sweeping the nation just in time for the election.
So the campaign is now shifting somewhat…away from the reasoned debate (we were promised) between two competing ideologies and into the pre-convention mud-slinging phase. With Vice President Biden’s controversial (some say over-the-top) stump speeches as attack dog, I think we’re starting to see the same from Paul Ryan on the other side. You remember all those early season ads and comments by Romney reflecting that, ‘sure, Obama’s a nice guy, but he’s just in over his head.’ I really don’t think you’ll see any more of that from the Republican candidates themselves. They’ll leave that to the slick ads like the one I mentioned earlier, along with a mix of vitriolic attack ads from other Super PACs. A “mix and match” message to different audiences in different states.
While perhaps largely alluding independent voters, the majority of ads will truly be for voters who already self identify as Republican. And, as NY Magazine's Jonathan Chait points out, the prevailing policy theme of Romney's campaign appeals to identity politics.
A Republican strategist said something interesting and revealing on Friday, though it largely escaped attention in the howling gusts of punditry over Mitt Romney’s birth certificate crack and a potential convention-altering hurricane. The subject was a Ron Brownstein story outlining the demographic hit rates each party requires to win in November. To squeak out a majority, Mitt Romney probably needs to win at least 61 percent of the white vote — a figure exceeding what George H.W. Bush commanded over Michael Dukakis in 1988. The Republican strategist told Brownstein, “This is the last time anyone will try to do this” — “this” being a near total reliance on white votes to win a presidential election.
I wrote a long story last February arguing that the Republican Party had grown intensely conscious of both the inescapable gravity of the long-term relative decline of the white population, and the short-term window of opportunity opened for the party by the economic crisis. I think we’re continuing to see the GOP operate under an integrated political and policy strategy constructed on this premise. This is their last, best chance to win an election in the party’s current demographic and ideological form. Future generations of GOP politicians will have to appeal to nonwhite voters who hold far more liberal views about the role of government than does the party’s current base.
The “2012 or never” hypothesis helps explain why a series of Republican candidates, first in the House and most recently at the presidential candidate level, have taken the politically risky step of openly declaring themselves for Paul Ryan’s radical blueprint. Romney’s campaign has been floating word of late that it sees a potential presidency as following the mold of James K. Polk — fulfilling dramatic policy change, and leaving after a single term. “Multiple senior Romney advisers assured me that they had had conversations with the candidate in which he conveyed a depth of conviction about the need to try to enact something like Ryan’s controversial budget and entitlement reforms,” reports the Huffington Post’s Jonathan Ward. “Romney, they said, was willing to count the cost politically in order to achieve it.” David Leonhardt floats a similar sketch, plausibly outlining how Romney could transform the shape of American government by using a Senate procedure that circumvents the filibuster to quickly lock in large regressive tax cuts and repeal of health insurance subsidies to tens of millions of Americans.

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