December 31, 2008

New Year's Predictions

My prognostication skills, beyond being adequate for NFL football, are notoriously flawed. Even my ability to predict election winners in the past has now faltered. With that in mind below are a list of predictions for 2009 - some tongue-in-cheek, some hopefully optimistic and some completely dispassionate and serious. I'll leave it to you to ferret out which is which.

  1. The recession will continue throughout the year - unemployment will rise to 8.8%.

  2. The credit crisis will continue and as a result the economy (as measured by GDP) will continue to contract throughout the year by 0.3%.

  3. The price of oil, despite production cuts by OPEC will remain low - around $35 per barrel.

  4. Obama's approval rating will remain above 62% for the entire year, but will drop from the current levels.

  5. The Big 3 bailout will proceed as if nobody cares or is paying attention.

  6. Norm Coleman will retain his Senate seat.

  7. The Back Street Boys will be #1 again.

  8. Gov. Blagojevich will name some names and a couple of others will be indited. If the names are high enough up the food chain, a special election may be 'imposed' on Illinois voters.

  9. Captain Jack Sparrow will be named as the next CEO of Fannie Mae.

  10. The Steelers will make it to the Superbowl (gulp).

That's probably enough rope to hang myself 10 times over. Maybe I should throw out there a few crazier ones for the sake of interest. If you've got any, feel free to post them in the comments section, comments are always most welcome - provided they aren't crude or racist wtc.

Oh, and HAPPY NEW YEAR to all!

December 30, 2008

Blagojevich one smart cookie!!

Today Illinois Governor Blagojevich appointed former State Attorney General Roland Burris to the U.S. Senate to fill President-elect Obama's vacant Senate seat. It's an interesting decision on many levels. He's appointing a black candidate who we're being told shouldn't be lynched. Odd.

He's being lambasted by Harry Reid who is saying he will refuse to seat the appointee. Obama has even finally called for Blagojevich to resign. Such indignation. Such moral certitude. But is Burris going to be in the Senate? Apparently. He won't caucus with Democrats. He will, on the surface at least be a pariah. So why accept the appointment if he can't caucus with his party and won't be an effective representative of his electors?

I'm no conspiracy theorist but...

So why would he appoint anyone, and why would anyone accept? Maybe I'm just being paranoid but doesn't this just play right into the Democrat narrative? Their narrative is that the Republicans are corrupt and they are pure as the wind driven snow. They represent real change. Then along comes the Blagojevich seat sale scandal and it punches a hole in that imagery. So what do the Democrats do? Political ju-jitsu. They turn the disadvantage to their advantage by doing the only thing they can do - try to appear clean and pure by condemning the immoral actions of an immoral man after he does something they've advised him not to do.

Except why did he do it? He had to know what the reaction would be. So maybe, just maybe (and I'm speculating here, I want to make that clear) he was advised to do something stupid in exchange for some type of leniency down the road. Perhaps a pardon is in the cards. By giving this opportunity for Democrats to foam at the mouth against one of their own and show their purity, the Democrats have the chance to look solid on ethics and government reform.

This is just pure speculation, but it just seems so oddly coincidental that a scandal within arms reach of the hope and change guy, suddenly is cast as Democrat outrage. And where are the Republicans on this? Nowhere. Why? They can be outraged but it comes off as political. Or they can come out in favor of the appointment, which would come off as insane. Or, they can shut up and let it play out. And if they do that, the Democrats control the narrative AGAIN, because they are the sole team in the game.

Somebody, somewhere, it is very possible, is pulling strings and laughing at us for our political naivete.

The litany of McCain errors - Part 4

The 2008 McCain campaign made several errors that likely cost him a winnable election. Money, strategy and demographics prime among the errors. Another area in which the McCain campaign underperformed was in Branding and Messaging. Those are crucial parts of any marketing effort, and running for President is in many ways similar to selling shoes; getting the message to sink in matters, and getting the branding right matters.


During the election cycle, I listened to POTUS '08 on XM satellite radio religiously. It provided great insights from Sept/Oct 2007 onward. A number of guests were of interest but particularly interesting was Thom Mozloom of He talked weekly with host Scott Walterman about branding in the campaign. He critiqued the efforts of each campaign. Unfortunately I've only been able to find a few older podcasts in the early spring of 2008, otherwise I'd try to share some of his commentary with you. He made some great points though about branding.

Two of his key points stuck with me;

1) You have to brand yourself, don't let the other guy do it for you or you'll get a brand image that suits them and not you.
2) You have to be clear and consistent in your branding. Your messages that follow, should be in alignment with your brand and will make more sense in that context.

With respect to both points, McCain failed miserably. By the time it became clear McCain needed Pennsylvania, it had also become fairly obvious that McCain's message could not penetrate the cacophony of Obama messaging in any of the key states he needed to defend. Worse still the message was all over the place, as if in the waning days of the campaign he was still looking for some message to resonate and stick with voters. Think about what was being put out there - drill baby drill, an all of the above approach to energy independence, Joe The Plumber, I'm a maverick, I'm change with meaning, I was right on Iraq and Obama was wrong, look at me I'm on Saturday Night Live so I'm cool and hip, Obama isn't ready for this. The list goes on and on. The messages may have been some of the right things to say, but look at that list. No wonder nothing stuck.

When Colin Powell is savaging your message, you've got real, serious problems. Colin Powell has done little to endear himself to the conservatives that once supported him. Back in October he endorsed Obama for President. Colin Powell's words probably mean very little to conservatives any more, but there are a few to which we should be listening (pay attention at 1:35, where he starts to make relevant statements. Ignore his take on it, but pay attention to what he says about shifting arguments and negativity);

What was Obama's brand and what was McCain's? I skipped over to The Huffington Post to look at a head-to-head comparison on branding. Keep in mind HuffPo is left, left, left and there's bias in the analysis. But just because they are the ideological enemy doesn't mean they don't have some valid points on the mechanics. Besides, if your 'enemy' does your work for you, why not leverage it?
John Tepper Marlin in October, had this to say;

On November 4 the American people will buy the Obama or McCain brand. I think the Obama brand is winning on seven criteria:

1. Logos. The Obama Campaign chose an icon that captured the feeling of sunrise over a field of red and white stripes. There is also a subtle "O" for Obama that is in play here though the name Obama is not used in the icon. This makes it a universal logo/icon to which anyone can bring his or her own meaning.  
It also communicates the Obama brand style. The McCain Campaign chose a logo that comes directly out of his family heritage of three generations in the U.S. Navy, as well as his prisoner-of-war-hero-status political leader. The colors of blue and gold are the U.S. Navy colors; the star icon comes directly from military-rank designations on uniforms. Graphic icons are more new school in the branding world, indicating change. Names on logos are more old school, indicating traditional values.

2. DNA. The Obama brand has a clearly defined brand code delivered in a simple three-word line. "Yes We Can". McCain has not clarified his brand code.His brand has delivered multiple messages - "Change You Can Believe In", "Country First", "Reform Prosperity Peace", "Don't Hope for a Better Life, Vote for One", "Courageous Service. Experienced Leadership. Bold Solutions".

3. Benefit. Obama has a clear product benefit. "Hope". It is hard to discern from the variety of McCain's brand messages what his product benefit actually is.

4. Positioning. The Obama brand positioning is We/People based. The McCain brand positioning is more Me/McCain based. If you would like to see evidence of this go to the Brooklyn Art Project site and see their Visual Word Maps. These word maps reveal the Obama and McCain campaign strategies by the top words used.

5. Values. If a brand is to be trusted it has to shed light on its values. Obama conveys the values of hope and unity. The McCain campaign has attempted to undermine these values, starting with exploitation of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's sermon on YouTube. This inspired Obama to give a well-regarded speech on race in America on March 18 at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia. This strengthened the Obama brand, as Obama showed he could stand up to adversity. McCain has clearly communicated that he values country and service but it's not clear how this message relates to current economic, energy, and environmental challenges facing America. Television coverage today showed Palin with "Country First" in the place of McCain's name on the campaign logo. These two words sound like implicature - a new word for the ancient practice of implying or suggesting something more than what it said. Saying that McCain puts his country first implies that Obama does not. It's as if Coca-Cola advertised "No Arsenic Added" - a statement that is surely true, but carries the (false) implication that other brands of soda do add arsenic. Sarah Palin at the same time was suggesting that Obama "pals around" with terrorists, the evidence being a long New York Times story on Bill Ayers that in fact concludes that the connection between Ayers and Obama, who both served on the Chicago Annenberg Project, was not very strong.

6. Mission. A brand must have a clearly defined mission so that its messages flow in one direction. Obama's mission is to bring "Change to America". The fact that he is the first African American running for the president of the United States is the embodiment of this mission. There could be no bigger change than an Obama administration and the Obama family in the White House. McCain's claim that he will bring reform to Washington with bold solutions is harder to buy into, no matter how much he positions himself as a maverick. The McCain brand simply hasn't demonstrated that his administration would be different from the last eight years under George W. Bush.

7. Vision. Finally, every great brand must have great vision. The Obama brand's "One Nation" vision is wrapped up in his quote "There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America." This viewpoint is the uniting principle that the Obama brand has promulgated throughout the country. The McCain brand vision is a world that is more threatening and fear based. He says: "We must win in Iraq. If we withdraw, there will be chaos; there will be genocide; and they will follow us home." A vision of fear in how we face our challenges here and around the world will diminish us. It will make us smaller and this is not the America that we want to see at home or how we want to continue to be seen around the world.
Interestingly he starts with the superficial - logos. Would you expect anything different from a liberal? Tomorrow 'll discuss communication, charisma and celebrity, and look at this. But I digress. The points he makes, while partisan, are fundamentally valid points. Democrats, taken by superficiality, and hampered by an inferior product have typically been better at branding. They've had to be. But the time is upon us when branding has become a critical facet of campaigning, and it's something the GOP had better have buttoned down for 2010 and 2012 if they hope to stem the blue tide of electoral victory that has unfortunately swept across America. If America is still a center-right country, there should not be so much blue on the map. But better marketing makes for more success. There's plenty of examples where an inferior product beats out a better one with inferior marketing. Think VHS versus Betamax. More recently Blu-Ray bead out HDD for high definition DVDs. Was it better? Honestly I have no clue, but Sony sure did something right.

McCain interestingly did get some positive traction with the celebrity ad trying to define Obama. But the campaign didn't have a successful follow up for it. Perhaps, given the dispersed messages they thought they had an adequate follow up. Or perhaps they were unprepared for the success of this piece.

So they were capable of making a splash. Unfortunately it was in defining their opponent and they had nothing in the hopper to do the same for defining John McCain as a brand. At the convention the intro video was all about John McCain and it defined his past very well. But it didn't give you the idea of what his vision was. In fact, as mentioned above, it was about him, not about America. That in itself was a branding problem.

I've never understood why real estate agents try so hard to sell themselves. They take pictures of themselves to feature in ads, but honestly, WHO CARES what your real estate agent looks like? I am buying or selling a house, not the agent. What I'm interested in his the house itself. What I'm peripherally interested in (if I'm selling) is the agent's sales record of success. If John McCain's branding team is selling the picture of McCain on the For Sale sign, and not the house (America) or what the agent (McCain) can accomplish, then they have entirely missed the point of branding. We're not 'buying' McCain. We're buying a fixer-upper house (America), or a mansion (America) depending on your point of view. But neither view cares what the agent looks like.

Obama got this one right. He beat Clinton on branding and handily beat McCain too. Ad Age honored Obama as Marketer of the Year, as well the should have. He sold a mansion as an agent who knew virtually nothing about the housing market - both figuratively in my analogy and literally as it turns out in the mortgage crisis.

January 4th, in Part 5, I will look at the final area of the McCain campaign weakness.

December 29, 2008

The litany of McCain errors - Part 3

Previously I have looked at how the McCain campaign failed to deliver both in terms of money and demographics. Today I want to review some of the strategic errors the campaign committed.


This is by no means comprehensive, but here's a list of some obvious mistakes the campaign made (in no particular order at this point):

(1) Pennsylvania McCain spent time and money in Pennsylvania. It was a desperation move and it showed. Was he taking for granted Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia? Was he hoping the polls were wrong and hoping for a miracle? Only he and his team know which. But in the Real Clear Politics average of polls Obama was leading in Pennsylvania by over 7% and won by 10.4%. It was clearly not a contestable state.

It might have made sense if he'd started that effort back in July or August or June when he was busier raising money than campaigning because he opted into federal funding. By the time Pennsylvania became a must win, it was over.

(2) Decentralization The decentralized approach to campaign administration didn't make sense. According to Politico,

McCain will lean heavily on the well-funded Republican National
Committee. He will merge key functions of his campaign hierarchy with the RNC
while also relying on an unconventional structure of 10 regional campaign

How can you farm out operations and have a message get through consistently. If 'All politics is local' and messages are localized, you've lost on branding and message before you've even started.

For all of Obama's 'change' he ran a traditional Democrat campaign - primary left, general election center. Pick the target states and focus the message and marketing efforts. Whether McCain eschewing that was out of financial necessity or planning, there's a reason it gets used - it works.

(3) Using Character The decision to stay hands-off on Wright was a tactical error. The same is true for Ayers. The decision to stay of Rezko was a tactical error (especially in hindsight with the Blagojevich scandal fermenting today). There are many including in the McCain camp who have argued that this is gutter politics. They're right. But this is the big leagues and gutter politics is part of the game.

The timing of these questions was wrong. This message was never released, but rather than questions like this trickling out in October, this should have been the beginning of a narrative that started in June and carried on until hit sunk in and the narrative could move on to other issues with this as the tie-in.

The reason to hammer this issue home is because when you talk about other issues later - oil, the economy, the sub-prime mortgages it plays to 2 big points; (i) Can you trust McCain to try to do the right things on these issues? (ii) Can you trust Obama to have your best interests at heart when addressing these issues?

If you think of the election cycle as a narrative then it needs a story line. You can't hop all over the place and expect the diverse set of sound bytes to have a common thread and therefore stick. You've got to make the point that Obama's biggest concern was and is Obama and McCain's biggest concern was the nation.

(4) Misusing Palin The decision to start Palin twice off on unwelcome ground without some form of editorial control or input was a major tactical error. No, a blunder. According to an article with an interview with Couric on the topic;

Couric also goes in-depth about her now-infamous Sarah Palin interviews. The
interviews were the first serious “vetting” Gov. Palin had received from the
mainstream media. Post-election, some of the gossip coming out of the McCain
campaign suggested that Couric was selected for Gov. Palin’s first media
roll-out because the McCain campaign viewed a female journalist as being more
sympathetic (i.e. “softer”) to Gov. Palin.
If that doesn't show a lack of detailed thinking I don't know what does. Clearly the McCain camp felt the need to play gender politics on the issue. They also seemed to think that would outweigh any political bias Couric or ABC might feel.

The decision to 'handle' Palin rather than let her be herself was a tactical error. The decision to not allow her to stick to her strong points was a mistake. It was misuse of his greatest asset.

Andrea Tantaros had an column about it. Newt Gingrich spoke about it.

(5) Debate Prep At the point of the first debate, McCain needed momentum. He was far too soft in both the first and second debates, allowing Obama to come off as being of Presidential timber. He should have tried much harder to keep Obama off balance and on the defensive. Instead he came across as legislative.

This shouldn't have been what the late night talk shows were talking about. McCain should have come out armed with facts, armed with a debate strategy to get Obama off balance from the beginning and keep him on the ropes. That's easier said than done, but the strategy to talk issues and sound knowledgeable did nothing for McCain, nor should it have been expected to do it.

The only other way he could have made a difference was to take the approach that it seems like only Reagan could successfully take;

(6) Suspending his campaign In order to deal with the bailout issue, McCain suspended his campaign. It was a serious error in a number of respects. Firstly optics - it looked feeble, it looked desperate and it looked confused. It had a negative effect on public perception. Further by signing on to a an unpopular idea (the bailout), McCain's brand was further tarnished by his association with it. Obama came off as cooler, more focused, more sensible.

(7) Complaining about the press like Lanny Davis did, did nothing to help, but not having a workaround to get the message out was the real problem. This is not McCain specific, it is a problem for the entire GOP and conservatives in general. Bypassing the MSM is crucial to future GOP success. The press has shown that they can become more liberal, less impartial and less thorough than we previously thought possible. It's only going to get worse. The Obama victory only served to reinforce their sense of self-importance and is only going to embolden them for more next time. It's going to get uglier. And complaining about it at a minimum antagonizes them, but worse, it distracts us from our own goals - educating the people of America on the real substance behind the issues the country faces.

Next, in Part 4 I'll take a look at the branding issues McCain had with his campaign.

December 28, 2008

The litany of McCain errors - Part 2

Yesterday I wrote that McCain had made a number of campaign-related mistakes, and I focused on the money matters. Today I want to look at the demographic issues related to the McCain campaign. How did McCain's failure to have an effective demographic strategy and/or his failure to materialize that strategy in an electoral college sense, cost him the campaign? There's two ways to look at these problems - what demographic groups McCain failed to deliver and what electoral college impacts the campaign decisions resulted in.


John McCain's strategy team clearly were out-gamed in the demographics department. President-elect Obama beat out both Hilary Clinton and then John McCain by having a demographic strategy and sticking to it. I'm sure the Obama team crunched the numbers and figured out what they needed to do to win. George W. Bush had won 62 million votes in 2004. Karl Rove was praised at the time (or vilified, if you were a Democrat) for his GOTV machine. But Obama outdid Bush by garnering 67.1 million votes. Where did they come from. And why did McCain garner only 58.4 million votes? Surely he could have at least matched Bush?

When you break down those numbers, Obama got 52.7% of the popular vote to McCain's 45.9%, while Bush had received 50.7% in 2004. In 2008 125.4 million people voted, in 2004 121 million people voted. So there were 4.4 million net new voters. McCain got 3.7 million less votes than George Bush. You combine those two points and you get approximately an 8.1 million vote victory that Obama enjoyed (according to NPR, the margin was 8.6 million).

Let's take as a plausible but unproven given that the 3.7 million votes McCain leaked versus Bush in 2004 were unavoidable. After all Bush had become very unpopular, and McCain wasn't Mr. Charisma. Those votes could be votes that stayed home or actually shifted to Obama. Let's further assume the latter is the case for simplicity sake for now. Why did those voters become Democratic voters and how did Obama bring an additional 4.2 million new voters to the table?

Obama was clearly going to win 2 groups in unprecedented numbers;


Both of these groups contributed to a good number of the new voters while the latter probably also contributed slightly to the number who voted Democrat this time around.

But there was a third group that Obama did better than I would have expected. Hispanic voters. Considering Bush was friendly to Hispanics and McCain had tried to be, why did McCain fare so much more poorly than Bush had done previously? Another demographic where McCain underperformed were disaffected Hilary Clinton voters, or PUMAs.

Let's look at each of these areas and see what went wrong for McCain.


Interestingly in 2008 the youth vote was only up to 18% versus 17% in 2004. Obama's margin of victory in this demographic has been typically sited as 68-30 to 66-32. This compares to John Kerry's margin of 55-44 in 2004. The number of voters in the demo is estimated at 22 to 24 million, versus 21 million in 2004. In other words, there's a net swing of 2.7 million related to the improved voter share, and 450,000 as a result of new youth voter turnout. All told there is 3.15 million votes that helped to Obama.

Could McCain have prevented this? Probably not. He might as well be 1000 years old to some of that Demographic. He's someone to whom they just can't relate. Showing videos of his heroics in Vietnam is just too distant to them. But McCain could have done something to stem the margin of the tide. Instead of the margin that occurred, perhaps McCain could have fought for a 60-40 split. It would have potentially shaved a million votes off Obama's total gains.

How to do that would have been another matter, but looking at McCain's campaign there wasn't any highly visible youth outreach. Did McCain concede the demographic? Did he feel the youth turnout was being overestimated? In either case, there was a strategic mistake to not seriously contest this group. Of course hindsight is 20/20, but my premise is how do we learn from 2008, so hindsight is meaningful.

What's the lesson on youth? A vote is a vote. Uninformed votes count the same as informed votes, and they must be contested. Working in the GOPs favor for 2012 is the same enthusiasm for Obama's hope and change message is going to be highly diminished after 4 years of not seeing immediate impactful change in their young lives. That demographic edge will still be there, but it will be smaller. This is especially true if the youth outreach is started by the RNC in 2009 and carries on through 2012 and beyond.

African Americans

There's no way McCain stood a chance in this demographic. To put it in any other light would be unfair. Conceding this demographic to Obama was not a strategic blunder but rather a strategic necessity. It was always Obama's demographic. The impact?

These numbers are still preliminary because final numbers seemingly haven't been published yet, but apparently 95% voted for Obama while in 2004 it was 88% for Kerry. Approximating the voter turnout of 60% in 2004 and outright guessing at 70% in 2008, we'd see 21 million voters in 2004 and 25.5 million in 2008. Breaking those approximations down, Obama gained 1.47 million voters versus Kerry in 2004 and attracted 4.5 million new African American voters, for a net gain of roughly 6 million. We'll have to wait for official releases to see if this number bears out.

Combined with the youth vote we're already nearing 9 million voters gained for Obama at this point.

But wait, why do African Americans vote Democrat in such percentages when there is ample evidence they are more conservative in many respects? In California on Proposition 8 regarding gay marriage, they voted against gay marriage in significant numbers. African Americans aren't really lost causes for conservatives. It's a matter of outreach. That's the lesson. We really aren't that far apart, we just need to have the dialogue as often as possible between now and 2012. Obama will still win, but maybe we can push back to the Kerry margins in 2012 and assuming a non-African American in 2016, perhaps work towards an even more central tendency in 2016 and beyond.


Hispanics voted 67% to 31% for Obama in 2008. In 2004 Bush won 44% of the Hispanic vote. That means McCain dropped 13% of Hispanic voters. Similarly I haven't seen turnout numbers but these numbers work in Obama's favor. Overall, this demographic slippage provides a lesson that requires some investigation.

Why didn't McCain fare better? Clearly the amnesty issue wasn't a winner for him. Hispanic voters were similar in California to African Americans on Proposition 8. They are also typically more religious than other demographics. So on social conservatism this group is winnable. Again, the issue is outreach. We need to learn what is motivation the demographic economically or otherwise to sway them away from socially conservative based voting. If we don't know what is motivating them, how can we ever hope to reach them? Bush had made inroads, but those appear to have been foregone now.

Clinton Women / PUMAs

While there are no specific breakdowns of PUMA voters that I have seen yet, Obama carried the female vote. In doing so he dispelled the myth that depending on a disenfranchised voter segment to help you carry the day is a bad idea. It didn't work for McCain, or at least not in sufficient numbers to overcome the build up for Obama in the other demographics. They seemed to be a non factor, or a minor one at best I'm sorry to say.

Unfortunately this analysis barely skims the surface and some underlying data is still outstanding to do it justice. But it's a start for now. The passage of time will reveal more for us.

But the point to be taken away is unchanged. We need to identify a coalition not of interest groups but of demographic groups that we know our message will resonate with. Then, we have to pound the heck out of that group with consistent messaging about their issues and concerns. My belief is that a conservative message plays to many more demographics that are traditionally targeted and the only way to expand conservatism is to take the message to new population segments that are a more natural fit than is currently considered.

Tomorrow I will continue with Part 3, Strategy.

December 27, 2008

The litany of McCain errors - Part 1

Firstly, let me say that by no means do I regard a review of the errors of John McCain's presidential bid as focusing on the past. Looking at what went wrong is crucial when planning for 2012, to ensure we don't make the same mistakes. In effect, getting it right next time means learning from those* mistakes. That is not to say that McCain did nothing right. He did a few things right, but I'll save that for another time.

Secondly, this analysis does not take into account many of the positions McCain took that flew in the face of the conservative base. McCain, clearly from a conservative standpoint, committed a number of errors with regards to policy positions. The list is pretty lengthy. The Gang of 14, border security, and the environment being ones that come to mind. And that may have had some dampening effect on conservative voter turnout or turned some of it to Barr. But that's not the reason for his loss on November 4th. He made a number of tactical errors, that with the advantage of time, will become more clear. Still, time is a luxury the GOP cannot afford. The political world is moving faster and the next election cycle has already begun. The extent to which I can't say. But this is not the focus of my analysis. I'm interested in looking at how the campaign was managed and run.

Thirdly, these are speciically campaign 2008 mistakes, not mistakes he's made as a Senator in the past.

As I've mentioned before, I think conservatives do a disservice to themselves by focusing on "what do we stand for?" rather than "how do we win?". We have a set of core principles we need to get back to, but doing so only straightens out the GOP (hopefully), it does nothing to ensure victory. It helps to be right on the issues, but the battle is won with the weapons you choose to use and how you choose to fight.

In 5 main categories, John McCain failed to deliver or capitalize on what was required for victory. Let's look at these in turn and see if we can't make sure we get them right next time around.

(1) Money
(2) Demographics
(3) Strategy
(4) Consistent message and 'brand' image.
(5) Communication.


President-elect Obama raised $742 million and spent $712 million. When you compare that to John McCain, who raised $367 million and spent $326 million, there is a telling difference. Obama raised twice as much and spent 218% of what Senator McCain spent. Right out of the gate Obama guaranteed himself more money. Well, McCain helped make sure of that by pledging to stick to the federal fundraising limits he felt compelled to support. That he did that was at least consistent but strategically foolish.

However, it's not just about the money raised. It's also about how smartly that money gets spent. Let's assume the messages were equally effective (a poor assumption but good for making my point), then in order to overcome Obama's monetary advantage, McCain would have to be twice as smart strategically about how and where his money got spent. You can overcome a financial disadvantage by having a better strategy. But McCain started with such a disadvantage he had to be near-perfect in the execution of advertising placement.

Perfection was not evident from the McCain camp. Before we even get to where the money was spent, compare these numbers. Obama spent 57.2% of his expenditures on media buys, McCain 38.2%. The disadvantage grows beyond 2 to 1 and gets closer to 3 to 1. Obama's campaign administrative expenses were 24.2% of his expenditures and McCain's were 26.7%. But McCain was the smaller guy in terms of budget. Wasn't it Avis who said "We're number two so we try harder"? McCain didn't have the luxury of being as inefficient as his opponent. Yet he was.
Wasn't McCain supposed to be running a lean, decentralized campaign? According to Marc Armbinder that was the plan. Yes he spent $60 million less than Obama, but it wasn't lean and efficient enough. Every dollar of the McCain campaign that wasn't diverted to advertising and media was a lost dollar to Obama.

According to Karl Rove,

A state-by-state analysis confirms the Obama advantage. Mr. Obama outspent Mr. McCain in Indiana nearly 7 to 1, in Virginia by more than 4 to 1, in Ohio by almost 2 to 1 and in North Carolina by nearly 3 to 2. Mr. Obama carried all four states. Mr. Obama also used his money to outmuscle Mr. McCain on the ground, with more staff, headquarters, mail and a larger get-out-the-vote effort. In mid-September the Obama campaign said its budget for Florida was $39
million. The actual number was probably larger.

But in any case, Mr. McCain spent a mere $13.1 million in the state. Mr. Obama won Florida by 2.81 percentage points. Mr. McCain was outspent by wide margins in every battleground state. But it would have been worse for him if RNC Chairman Mike Duncan and Finance Chairman Elliott Broidy hadn't stockpiled funds in 2007 and early 2008. The RNC provided nearly half the funds for the GOP's combined general-election campaign, while the DNC provided less than a tenth of the funds that benefited Mr. Obama.

To sum up;

  • The federal funding barn door has been opened. Don't play by the rules that Senator McCain endorsed because there is an option to opt out of that route. Sticking to federal matching funds is a competitive disadvantage that is no longer a viable option.
  • Raising money needs to be done as early as possible so that during the home stretch, efforts can be concentrated effectively spending the war chest not building it
  • The vast majority RNC money should be used for other purposes than a cash-strapped Presidential nominee. The number of local races that could have used that money is substantial. McCain not only lost the Presidential race, his dependence on the RNC likely cost Republicans Senate and Congressional seats. Norm Coleman could have probably used an extra $250,000 very effectively.
  • When it comes to spending money, concentrate your efforts where they need to be concentrated. Find a winning strategy and do not deviate from it in terms of targeting and therefore, spending.
*those mistakes are attributable to the McCain team, not just John McCain.

Part 2 on Demographics will follow tomorrow.

December 26, 2008

MoveOn fails Economics 101

I was checking out the website this last Wednesday - to see if there's any new radical progressive lunacy worth reading for a good laugh. There was the usual stuff to be expected -an article and video about Al Franken needing help because Norm Coleman is obviously evil. An article of talking points on John McCain. Complaints about Iraq. The usual stuff. By the way, I didn't see any apology to General Petraeus. Maybe I missed it.

What caught my attention was the front page pseudo-mission statement:

Hundreds of thousands of us voted, and now the results are in. We now know what to focus on in 2009: universal health care, economic recovery and job creation,building a green economy and stopping climate change, and ending the war in Iraq.
Two things struck me. Firstly, that's a lot of stuff for 2009. And for, I have 3 words: Go For It. 4 top priorities being focused on means you'll accomplish zero. Way to spread yourself thin. Be ambitious and choke on the mammoth proportions of what you've assigned for yourself. Accomplish nothing and leave your members disillusioned for 2010. That works well for me and hopefully the GOP in 2010 too.

Secondly, and most interestingly, the number one priority is universal health care. That's number one? In a potential super-recession that Obama must 'lead' us from as if he were the new Moses with $1 trillion deep pockets, MoveOn deems universal health care the biggest thing needing attention. I read further and found this quote at the head of the reasons behind the choice;

If this country had universal health care, it would help the economy. Our businesses would not have to be at such a disadvantage competing with global companies whose countries DO have national health care. It would also help individuals and families, economically, as many of us go into debt to have health care, or don't have it at all.”—Jane D. Montpelier, VT
Universal health care, which likely would outstrip Social Security as the biggest funding requirement of a cash strapped (but free-spending) government, is good for the economy? How shall I call thee uninformed? Let me count the ways.

1) The costs would sink the government. Who's going to bail out Congress, the Senate and White House when they are the next Big 3 on the verge of financial collapse?

2) The Big 3 serve as a prime example of what UHC would not achieve. The cost burdens on the Big 3 do not go away with the advent of UHC. Of the $70 per hour in fully loaded labour costs, about half is in benefits.

Benefit/government required programs in 2006 added an additional $33.58 for each active hour worked. These costs include: group life insurance, disability benefits, and Supplemental Unemployment Benefits (SUB), Job Security (JOBS), pensions, unemployment compensation, Social Security taxes, and hospital, surgical, prescription drug, dental, and vision care benefits.
It's further worth noting that any benefits to GM would also accrue to Toyota. The UHC change does nothing to switch those competitive advantages away from Toyota, it just lowers both automakers the same amount.

3) UHC will not cover everything, it doesn't in Canada, and it doesn't cover prescription drugs, which are often a major component of health care. In Canada private insurers still are responsible for those benefits and they are still funded in most cases by employers.

4) How much of the established health care trust the Big 3 worked on with the UAW already mitigated their exposure to this issue?

5) Other industries like the insurance industry would see a negative impact, as well as the medical industry in general. With UHC health care comes regulation and mandated charges per procedure or visit. In Canada the best doctors 'all' try to move to the US because they are making a fraction of the potential they can in the US. It's called the brain drain. Let me show you a crude Microsoft Paint sketch I threw together.

Sorry for the quality, I'm no artist.

These are a Supply and Demand curves. Don't be afraid - it's pretty simple. At every price suppliers (in this case medical) will supply a product/service. The higher the price, the more they will be willing and able to sell. Conversely, the higher the price (on the left side of the graph) the less consumers are willing to buy it or afford it. If a 60" LCD sold for $12, how many would you buy? What if it sold for $100,000?

This system is true universally. Even in socialist countries it cannot be avoided, it is reality. It can however be manipulated in many ways. Systems always try to work their way towards equilibrium - that is, where the supply and demand curves meet. They don't always get there but that's the natural inclination. Here's where the socialism comes in.

Lets assume that the system is at or close to equilibrium for tonsil removal. That is P1 (original price) and Q1 (original number of tonsil removals). Say it's $100 and 1,000,000 tonsils get removed every year at that price. If the government comes along and says instead of $100, we're going to mandate a price ceiling of $75 (P2), then what happens? The curves no longer meet at that point. Suddenly the number of doctors willing to do tonsillectomies drops to Q2S. Let's say enough to do 700,000 per year. Even at the original demand we have a shortage of 300,000 per year. But something else happens. Those who couldn't previously afford it are now willing to consider it because it has become affordable for them. Let's say another 200,000 people want to have tonsils removed. The shortage becomes more acute. We now have 500,000 people a year not getting tonsillectomies who want or need them. Yikes!

What ends up happening is that one or both of the supply and demand curves moves to accommodate the new reality (price shock). Likely both will start to occur. The government, sensing a shortage, is likely to mandate more tonsillectomies. You know how they like to meddle - it's what they do. They artificially try to manipulate supply. But just as you can't make somebody buy something they don't want, you can't make somebody sell something they don't want to either. Not in a country where freedom exists.

What happens is doctors retire. They move to another country where they can make more. Some go back to school to become lawyers instead. They become specialists in fields other than tonsillectomies. They limit their patient lists to the wealthiest or those who will pay a premium for express service. Kids in medical school re-think their priorities "I'll go into law instead because the government hates the idea of tort reform anyway." The supply curve moves to where it wants to go anyway. On the demand side the reverse happens - waiting lists of months, people going elsewhere to get it done if possible (e.g. Canada or the UK), people finding illegal suppliers of the tonsillectomy where they can pay even less than $75. It's not a pretty sight.

What it effectively does is suppress talent. Particularly the top tier of talent. In the medical field the United States goes from being the pioneer to being an also ran. The refrain about how it works so well in other countries is hollow. I took my son into emergency here in the Toronto area last summer - he got a tiny piece of stone chip in his eye. I tried to fix it myself, but I couldn't. So we went to the hospital. Why not - it's free here. We sat in the waiting room for 5 hours. Not because of prioritized emergencies. There was nothing critical that evening, there was just a line up. Ironically, the couple ahead of us had their daughter there for the exact same issue as my son. When we finally saw the one doctor on duty for the entire emergency ward, he was at the end of his shift and exhausted. He took care of the problem with a swab in about 30 seconds. The wait time to visit time ratio was horrific. I would have gone to a clinic or the family doctor but at the mandated prices doctors can charge for visits on a Sunday evening, they were ALL closed.

Is that the vision MoveOn has for America? Probably not, but it is the reality they are intent on imposing on you. Don't let them do it.

December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and joyous New Year.

December 24, 2008

The real meaning of change

Obama throughout the campaign season promised everyone hope and change. Seeing as he's been selecting Clinton retreads for his cabinet, the whole 'new people are needed to solve the old problems' angle is sort of shot. He's clearly not all that concerned about how Washington is run dysfunctionally, or he'd clean house, no?

There must be some other meaning to hope and change. For a while there, it seemed like the Bush tax cuts would be repealed early. At that point I was thinking that Obama would take your taxes in dollars,

and in turn, you would hope to be in one of his special interest groups so he could pass you out some change.

[Sure it looks bigger in the picture, it's shiny and new and impressive, but can you forget that at this point you're out the other $99.75?]

But while that still might happen, and by might I mean "probably will", it's not so imminent. If he's been promising hope and change, there has to be some other meaning to it. At this point for conservatives it can be narrowed down to one possibility - we have to hope that starting in November 2010 and by November 2012 we can begin to change what socialism will be unleashed on the United States of America over the next two years.

December 23, 2008

I'm not quite over the Obama win.

THIS guy? Really? Really???? Way to go America. I love ya, but really? This guy?


I still can't believe it.

Oh, and this guy too;

I don't suppose a do-over would help?

December 22, 2008

Progressive stealth attack

A little while ago I posted some concerns (not assertions) about the creeping-Franken-election-count. I got a polite comment in return questioning why I was raising baseless accusations about a seemingly above board and all clean election recount.

I of course replied which prompted him to reply again. Politely again. However, I researched his name John Emerson, and found similar posts on other sites/blogs, especially since he stated he has been performing an Internet 'study' and offered corrections where he's found them.

What I found was a blog where he calls people thinking the election was being stolen 'morons' and one where he is seemingly a writer for the Minnesota Progressive Project, and claiming Norm Coleman is stealing the election.

So he claims that Coleman is stealing the election but wants me to offer evidence that Franken is trying to do so? Please. There have been numerous questions raised in countless places. If he doesn't want to believe what he's read in his 'Internet study', any evidence I might offer is going to fall on deaf ears.

Is bankruptcy so bad?

The Big 3, no longer face the imminent threat of bankruptcy that they should be facing thanks to yet another Bush betrayal of conservative principles. Bush, by saying he'd like to stick to his principles but these are not ordinary circumstances so to resolve it let's throw money at it.

If you abandon your principles when the going gets tough, are they really your principles? I don't think so. They are convenient talking points to placate your party faithful. But they don't placate those who listen closely.

Conservatives believe in the free market system. That system entails both risks and rewards. Innovation comes from America more than any other nation because it rewards that innovation. It has made America a wealthy and powerful nation. If you contrast that to the direction of many European nations who chose a socialist leaning path, clearly the United States has fared better. That's the upside of the system. People are willing to take risks because the payoff can be well worth the effort.

The Big 3 automakers revelled in that reward for decades, while over time making foolish decisions that deteriorated their ability to continue to innovate and prosper. And that's the downside of the system. Risk. Trying to innovate, trying to run a business does not guarantee success. There is typically no safety net. You try because the reward, you try work hard to avoid the risk, but the risk is always there. As it should be. Risk and reward guide market efficiency.

If you privatize profit and socialize failure the mixture cannot possibly succeed. The numbers just don't add up. Businesses have to be allowed to fail. It's the responsible course of action. Efficiency comes from investing where it makes the most sense. Larry the liquidator said it best:

Yes, there will be jobs lost. But if you continue to prop up an unsustainable business, you are maintaining jobs that really aren't efficient. Why can foreign auto makers run their plants so much more efficiently than the Big 3? It doesn't matter - they just do. But the government wants to reward failure and support its continuance. As an investor in America, is that what you want with your money? I wouldn't.

The thing is, in this case, bankruptcies would not be an all-out shutdown. And perhaps this is where a compromise can be reached. If the auto makers were to have a managed Chapter 11 protected restructuring, bankruptcy protection, they could reverse so much of the damage they have caused themselves, allowed themselves to be subject to and they could perhaps even entreat government to standardize the CAFE 'standards' so that the external forces buffeting their ships could be calmed somewhat.

They would not shut down. They would continue. The jobs would exist. And if a worker is unhappy about making a combined $44 per hour instead of a combined cost of $71 per hour then let them see if they can find that pay working at some other employer. I'm sure there are thousands of capable people who would be happy to be gainfully employed at the lower rate.

As for the American public perception of a bankrupt Big 3, it's a canard. A ruse. I'd still buy a Chevy if GM were under bankruptcy protection. Woudn't you? And if the answer is no, would you have been a potential customer of GM in the first place? Is the reputation of GM so fragile that the perception would be any worse under Chapter 11 than it is today? I really don't think perception would change substantially. In fact, I bet it would inspire a bit of patriotism, perhaps even guilt, and people would be willing to give them a shot at their business. And even if they don't, remember the words of Larry the Liquidator, 'who cares'?

I've always said America needs a strong manufacturing base. I don't think being a service economy has a future. A mixed economy that has both elements is absolutely required. When Rome started outsourcing it's military it was doomed. Today's armies are both military and economic. Offshoring everything is the first step down the road to being a dependant nation.

But why is so much being offshored? Efficiency. Well guess what, the only way to fix that is to fix efficiency at home. If Toyota can make a car here cheaper then so can GM, so can Ford. If you are willing to let them. The same is true in a broader sense. Government has to stop making it difficult to manufacture in the United States. Social engineering is a major detriment to free market efficiency. The efficiency has been grossly distorted in so many industries by government interference that business has become unrecognizable. Union employees continue to operate with a 1950's mentality in a 2000's world, distorted by damning laws that their votes helped create. Sorting that out is the only real way out of this mess.

December 21, 2008

Franken campaign's absurd statement

In Minnesota, Mark Elias - Al Franken's campaign attorney is claiming they will win by 35-50 votes when the Senate recount is complete. The fact that the statement has been been is absurd.

1) If they know that is the case, then to paraphrase Corporal Hudin the movie Aliens, why don't we just put him in charge? Did his team count faster than the official recount?

2) The comments mean nothing, since the recount is NOT FINISHED. On top of that it's inappropriate to claim victory during a recount. What happened to every vote must be counted? Is that only true when you're behind, Democrats?

3) How can they possibly know the outcome before it happens unless they know something others don't know? Which they shouldn't know by the way. If that's the case, then the fix is in - so why advertise it?

The real question is whether this election is being stolen. It sure seems like the recount will continue until the outcome Franken is looking for is accomplished. Sort of reminds me of 2000, when Democrats tried to steal the election from Bush. If indeed the election is being stolen, Americans have a right to know. This should be a more open process - as the rug is being pulled out from underneath Senator Coleman there needs to be brought into the light of day the underhanded tactics in play from the Franken camp.

Secondarily where is Coleman on these questions? I would be all over every comment out of the Franken camp. Decorum has no place in this situation. Every comment, no matter how inane has to be challenged and requests for tangible proof must be forthcoming. If I were part of the Coleman team, every day I would be talking to the media, explaining the latest Franken tactic and why each questionable one is being allowed and what it means for Democracy. This is a knock-down drag out fight being fought on one side and the Coleman camp has no reason to remain above the fray - they're in it whether they want to be or not. The votes are in, public image doesn't matter for these guys until 2014. So fight for every vote, procedurally and publicly. Make your case publicly because whether you want to admit it or not, public opinion can cause a bias on anyone, including election officials.

Lastly, the US Senate does not need another blowhard demagogue right now, and Franken fits that bill to a T. And if he's corrupt to boot, it compounds the image of the Blagojevich/Rahm scandal. Surely the electorate, particularly the Democrat electorate, is not so cynical as to say "who cares if he's a crook, he's on our side' he's the guy we want". And surely, if that's the case, the effort should be started right now, if evidence is there, use it to make the point about political corruption. This is not change, unless change for the worse counts as change. I guess technically it does, but I'm pretty sure it's not the change the Obamabots were voting to get. Then again, maybe it's not the type of change they are prone to want to notice.

Putin power grabbing again

According to a story in Reuters this morning, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is still moving to consolidate his power base and silence his critics. Speaking to the FSB (the successor to the KGB), Putin had angry words for his country's foes. He has frequently used Western security services (spies) as a rallying point for Russians. Now he's warning 'foes' against trying to destabilize Russia during a the broadening economic crisis facing Russia.

And in a classic look-what's-going-on-over-here-in-my-left-hand-so-you-miss-the-big-picture maneuver, Putin warned "Any attempts to weaken or destabilize Russia, harm the interests of the country will be toughly suppressed". With that statement Putin effectively also warned dissenters against opposing him, while possibly distracting Russians from the economic crisis that is happening under his watch. The crisis in Russia is potentially far more acute than in the United States, as the plunge in oil crisis impacts a Russian export and government revenue quite strongly. Russia is highly dependant on oil exports, and compounding the problem is the continued structural weakness of the Russian system. Russia does have substantial reserves but the spectre of foreign nationals infiltrating Russia always helped Putin's popularity during previous election cycles Putin was running in.

By distracting the country, Putin is hoping to open for himself another opportunity to consolidate his power. It's been speculated that the financial crisis would be leveraged in order to increase control over key strategic assets reversing the actions of the 1990s, when the state sold off major assets to wealth private sector citizens in exchange for loans. Whether this reversal is done via economic leverage or by force, it's clearly another step away from any pretense of democratization in Russia.

Putin seems intent on turning Russia into a police state with himself as the head. That Putin clearly longs for a return to the former Russian glory days of the Soviet Union is of no consequence. What Putin is desirous of most is absolute authority. Whether that comes in a communist state as some believe he longs to repair, or as a fascist style police state doesn't matter. Putin is working on consolidating power for himself in a country, that while diminished, still is a substantial international player, with nuclear warheads and empire ambitions. It's a dangerous situation for any international interest, and with the looming threat of the rise of China as an economic powerhouse, an unwelcome and potentially dangerous distraction for America.

Liberal Captions

Below are some movie quotes that you could associate with various liberals. Please add your own in the comments section. I don't get too many comments, but any feedback is appreciated, especially when it pokes fun at Democrats.

Added bonus, I can't recall which website I read this on, but it might have been Protein Wisdom. [Sorry, let me know and I'll update the link]. "The Secret To Being A Liberal Hysteric? No secret: just treat adults like children, and treat children like adults."

My precious.

Say hello to my little friend. (Okay, little kid)

You don't understand! I coulda had class. I
coulda been a contender. I could've been
somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.

You talking to me?

A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his
liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.

You can't handle the truth!
Mama always said life was like a box of

I'll be back.

I see dead people.

We rob banks.

I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse.

E.T. phone home.

"I just want to say one word to you - just one word.... 'plastics.'"

"Badges? We ain't got no badges! We don't need no badges! I don't have to show you any stinking badges!" (That's just wrong)

"Surely you can't be serious."
"I am serious. And don't call me Shirley."

Show me the money!

What we've got here is failure to communicate.

December 20, 2008

Israel vs. Iran cage match

The possibility of Iran provoking an American military response to an attack on Israel has changed. But that doesn't mean that Israel won't act pre-emptively in their own defence. They are not a passive participant in the event of an Iranian military threat. Is it possible that a pre-emptive strike by Israel on Iran's nuclear facilities could occur, and without US approval? Yes absolutely, but is it likely? That question is a still little murkier.

Firstly, it's almost impossible for Israel to attack without US knowledge beforehand. But does that mean US approval is required? Not necessarily. If Israel feels truly threatened, then it might act of it's own accord, with the hope that the US might be forced to back it, after the fact.

There is a viable threat to Israel being posed by Iran. How imminent, how menacing is not clear to us. When I say us, I'm excluding the intelligence community and Iran itself. However, we can assume that where there's rhetoric, there's fire. The question then is what is likely to happen. I would expect Israel to perform an air strike on the facilities in question. Where things escalate from there is something worth thinking about.

Were hostilities to break out, here are some raw numbers.


Active duty army personnel: 345,000, 1,613 tanks.
Naval ships: 2 destroyers, 3 frigates, 2 corvettes, 13 fast attack craft.
Air Force: fighters 115, fighter/bombers 144.


Active duty army personnel: 141,000, 11 armored divisions, 33 armored brigades 10 mechanical infantry brigades.
Naval ships: 3 submarines, 4 corvettes, 20 fast attack craft.
Air Force: 555 combat aircraft (90 probably stored) and 60 armed helicopters

It would seem that Israel could hold it's own, assuming a broader regional conflict does not erupt. Were that to be the case, the US would be hard pressed not intervene on Israel's behalf. European reaction would be either muted, or even slightly hostile to Israel, but likely an effective position of non-involvement. In any case, Israel is set up well for a quick war, but if it drags out, Iran has the sheer numbers to win via attrition. When you look beyond active duty troops, Iran has a lot more reserves and a lot more military service age population.

Hopefully it doesn't come to a shooting war, but if it does, it has to be won quickly or else the U.S. will be drawn into it.

December 19, 2008

What does being a conservative mean?

Some fodder for the conservatives first principles and process discussions.

What does being a conservative (or a Republican) mean to you? It's not a meaningless question. Being conservative means different things to different people. Most commonly conservatives are broken into into three categories: Social conservatives, fiscal conservatives and national security conservatives. Then there are also all sorts of other labels applied - country club Republicans, neo-cons, Reagan Democrats, libertarians (yes, I realize there's a nuanced difference) and various other groupings. But I'd like to concentrate on the first three.
To varying degrees, there are overlaps of each of fiscal, security and social conservatism in a conservative individual. Some might be all three, others, strictly one. How do we reconcile those shades? Do we need to do so from a building the base perspective?

Fiscal conservatives are obviously concerned with economic issues like balancing the budget, national debt, earmarks, trade deficits, free trade, taxes and entitlements.

Security conservatives focus on a strong military, anti-terrorism, homeland security, immigration and border security. There are other issues e.g. around the idea of nation building versus a homeland security only approach.
Social conservatives are concerned with morality, family, crime, cultural values, religion, the sanctity of life. It seems to me, anecdotally at least, that there is a big gap between social conservatives and libertarians. This would also be true for conservatives interested in nation building (spreading democracy).

These are the three main legs of the conservative chair, if I can use a metaphor. We talk about being a Big tent, but that doesn't mean diluting our principles. It means educating people about our beliefs and trying to get them to understand the rationale for our beliefs. Because there are different legs to the chair, different approaches are required to explain our beliefs and why we think we are right about these issues.
But given that we have these legs, and that for example, African Americans and Latinos voted the way they did on California's Proposition 8, the conversations to educate and enlighten don't need to go as far as one would automatically assume. There are some pretty specific enumerations of the size of these population segments. They are important voting blocks that are traditionally stacked against Republicans. Why? Outreach. What are we doing to explain our common ground? Not nearly enough.

We know what the opportunities are. We have more in common than we are given or taking credit for. Hispanics, African Americans, Jewish people all have degrees of commonality with traditional conservative views in some or all three of these areas. And that's just ethnic population segments. What about other pockets? Factory workers - traditional family values, a strong economy work in messaging these people. So-called Feminists - true conservatism is founded on individual liberty and the opportunity to become all that you can. That precept should be leveraged in every conversation with a self-described feminist.

It's our job to remember to educate -- and don't lecture. Preaching to the choir is okay, but it doesn't solve the electoral deficit. During the 2008 election cycle I converted three of my friends to the GOP viewpoint. These were lifelong liberal-Democrat-supporting-types. Another one I got to question the Democrats view more often, and one seemed to be a lost cause. But that's not a bad conversion rate. Unfortunately for the GOP, me being Canadian means I converted only Canadians. Furthermore, McCain more than overbalanced me by turning off Republicans and Democrats alike. So much for the middle ground Senator.
Perhaps you can't go out and do outreach where the RNC needs it done. Maybe you aren't connected. Maybe you don't have the confidence or opportunity to broach the subject. But you do have control over your own conversations, and you can pull the levers slightly at first if that's what's called for. And despite what you might think about your own conversational skills re: politics, you can do it. Learn the hot button triggers of those you engage. Be softly persuasive. Be patient. In politics epiphany does not usually come over night. It can take weeks or months. Or longer. But getting that light to come on is quite worth it. And as an added bonus, it could just turn out to be viral.
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