2010 Elections: A Simple Strategy

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A simple ad along these lines will be far more effective for a Republican challenger to a Democratic incumbent than any elaborately conceived negative commercial:

“Do you support the $850 billion stimulus package Obama passed last year? Joe Democrat voted yes.

Harry Republican says no.

“The TARP bailout? Democrat voted in favor. Republican is opposed.

“Obamacare? Joe Democrat supported it. Harry Republican would have voted no.

“Cap and trade? Democrat yes, again. Republican, no.

“Vote for the one that agrees with you.”

If you have to run a disclaimer featuring the candidate, just end the ad up with: “I’m Harry Republican, and I approve of this ad to bring you the facts. Just the facts.”

The whole idea is to make the ad totally credible — an ad where your opponent should be willing to pay for half of it. Like an ad sponsored by the League of American Voters or some such group.

This approach may rob your media advisor of his creativity and give your staff less satisfaction than a blood-drenched negative, but it will work far better.

Tony Schwartz, my mentor, once told me that he would read me two identical ads that would elicit totally different reactions:

Ad One: “You can read the truth about the pornography industry in a three-part series in The New York Times.”

Ad Two: “You can read the truth about the pornography industry in a three-part series in the National Enquirer.”

Of course, these are totally different ads, but the difference is in the mind of the listener. The impartial, just-the-facts approach to negative advertising passes the internal screens voters have on ad credibility and does its work inside the voters’ mind. And the adjectives they would use to describe Obama’s programs to themselves are far, far more devastating than the ones your ad person can conceive.

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  • Patrick

    We are making the assumption that there is a difference between the two papers.

    • Reaganite2_0

      Personally(and I'm not joking), I would trust the Enquirer more.

  • Bobbi

    That's assuming voters know what the stimulus, Obamacare and deficits are. It's scary out here.

    • Jim Johnson

      You got it right. Most of the public does not know what the purpose of the constitution is or what a deficit is or any of the abstractions of Politics or finance are.

      Instead put it right on the kitchen table. That is where the message has meaning.

      Picture a man going through his bills while running his hand threw his hair in despair as he says to his wife " We have a letter from the bank saying they are going to foreclose and here we are with out a job or any hope of getting one. They said Obama's bailouts were supposed to keep us from economic collapse;but things are getting worse . Why does the president do nothing? We did not cause this problem"

      It is a little wordy. Dick Morris wrote such an ad for Jesse Helms and it saved Jesse's campaign.
      Of course the Republicans persist in calling the unemployed lazy bums which plays right into the hands of the Democrats.

      • temarch

        You've got that right. I never understood how Republicans could justify complaining about how Americans are suffering because of the high unemployment and then turn right around and say unemployment compensation just cause people to not want to work. Have you heard any company complain about not being able to find people to work? Can't be both ways.

        • kafirman

          That easy. Just a China does not have an overpopulation problem: it has a problem of a lack of capitalism.

          Similarly the unemployed suffer from not having job opportunities, not from insufficient government handouts. Zero cap gains permanently, fix the dollar to gold and look out.

  • davarino

    ok then, lightem up. It will be fun to watch the dems fight the truth.

  • stephencuz

    I am a simple man. I am waiting for the Republican PArty to come up with and present alternatives rather than merely point out how the other party is wrong. That doesn't cut it and plays into their hands when they charge the Repubs. with being the "party of no." With that said, remember Newt back when and the "Contract with America"? We need something along those lines again. Define clearly your intent. Show how it will work and the good that will result. KISS (keep it simple stupid).

    • LibertyLover

      Ufortunately, explaining the Republican alternatives is not easy. Paul Ryans Road Map is a good start, but the voters, both parties, do not do their part by being informed. The lack of education and interest on the part if a great portion of the electorate is saddening. How do you explain alternatives to an undereducated population that has been raised on left-wing sound-bites from a biased media?

      • bubba4

        Have you bothered to read Paul Ryan's Road Map? There are no alternatives there….just "duh" generalities.

        Honestly, besides pushing for the Bush tax cuts to be extended and continuing Bush policies no Republican has laid out a single policy idea that would do any good. Boehner gave a "policy" speech the other day that barely said anything.

        Looks like it's going to a be a culture war election…YAY stupid Mosque stories and dirty politics.

  • Gary

    What really does scare me is that the same idiots of the Left who voted Obozo into office are still there, still brain washed, and still tooooo stupid/ignorant of the real facts to change their vote!
    For most of them, they have been brain washed by Liberal Left Marxist teachers and professors all of their lives and we have been paying for this brain washing of our kids with our taxes, taken from us by force. Sad.

  • ajnn

    This is very good advice. However, it does not account for the 'media' as an active player in elections.

    • Wideband

      Spot on ajnn. It wasn't the "idiots of the left" who voted Obama in and handed the left it's majorities in congress. Those folks have been defeated in the past. It was the casual voter in the middle who the media convinced that they were voting for Morgan Freeman. It was young people like my niece who the lefties running education convinced that Sarah Palin banned books. I usually agree with Dick Morris, but I think he's wrong here. The wrongness of the policies of the left need to explained. That needs to be coupled with the kind of positive message about what WILL work that stephencuz mentioned above.

  • Rbob

    I'm old enough to recall the "great depression" in the 1930's. It was bad, and getting worse until the 2nd World War put everyone to work that could get out of bed. It is difficult to find that middle ground in which the destitute have hope of getting gainful employment, without making unemployment pay a permanent aspiration. I think B.H.O has gone too far to the left, but Herbert Hoover stuck too far to the right. In my opinion, NAFTA is much to blame for the hopeless situation of blue collar workers now, and in the foresseable future. Ross Perot said that he could hear a giant sucking sound of jobs leaving the U.S. if NAFTA passed…it passed and they are gone.

    • Doggwood

      I'm not sure Ross Perot had the right answers, but at least he attempted to move the debate into the proper framework: That is, putting the focus on production, and the jobs that went with production. Most politicians on both sides of the aisle are big on the concept of "stimulus", which means consumption. They argue that we become prosperous by consuming, which will result in production being ramped up to meet the demand. However, when the production has fled offshore, we end up with rising debt and more jobs in China. And when the government commands something get produced domestically, it ends up being a wasteful payoff to cronies, like that crazy electric Dodge Dolt that costs $41k and goes 40 miles. Nobody would buy it, so we then subsidize it with more debt. The economic policies we're seeing are truly the products of diseased minds. The problem we face is there's tremendous pressure on a president to "do something", but that "something" he does is almost always counterproductive. So I'd like a Herbert Hoover, not because I think the answer is to do nothing, but because Washington is so toxic and dysfunctional that nothing is better than anything our lunatic politicians will do.

  • Wesley69

    The message of "Change,' the fact that we had an intelligent black man delivering this message, a severe mortgage crisis near the election, plus an adoring media gave us Obama and a Democratic Congress. Did most people study the issues? I doubt that in most elections, the vast majority of people study any issues. People understand things in soundbites. There is one means to tell how people will vote – the Economy & each individual's pocket. The Dems will say Bush and the Republicans are to blame. The Republicans need to remind voters about the Non-Stimulus, ObamaNoCare, Tax & Trade, Arizona, Obama's Katrina. They need to come up with a simple 10 point agenda to sell to the American people. They need to run again Obama and his policy of apology to the world. They need to make the point that when push comes to shove Democrats in the next Congress will support this President and his Leftist agenda.

    • bubba4

      Obama's Katrina, you crack me up. You literally speak in talking points.

      Most of you, since you aren't political strategists and pundits, are simply voters. You are people being talked to. You aren't suppose to support a dishonest and uninformed political strategy….that's you saying you should be lied to.

      Eight years and change it took the Republicans to set us on the path to ruin. Barely a year and half in, and Obama is a failure because he hasn't fixed everything….and you guys are like yeah…lie, smear, and kick up dust…it's the path to victory? Huh?

  • jim

    RE: Wesley69's "a simple 10 point agenda to sell to the American people."

    Here 'tis:
    1) REPEAL
    2) REPEAL
    3) REPEAL
    4) REPEAL
    5) REPEAL
    6) REPEAL
    7) REPEAL
    8) REPEAL
    9) REPEAL
    10) REPEAL

    That oughta do it.