Strategy ’08

Obama vs. the other guy, 2008

There’s No Painting Around It For Ostriches

I’ve been annoyed lately by the ostriches who continue to insist that the Obama team knows what they’re going to do, that people aren’t paying attention until after the conventions, and that Obama will do the rope-and-dope strategy.

They’re mistaken on these three points. From what I’m seeing, especially in tonight’s faith forum, that Obama has a lot of work to do in connecting to voters emotionally. While he gave very good, thoughtful answers to the questions that were asked, he meandered in his answers, gave some nuance, and in doing so, sounded like he was hedging.

Americans don’t do nuance–especially low-information voters. McCain did very well tonight even though I intellectually know that he’s bankrupt on his positions and the ideas he has to give to Americans. He gave short, pithy answers, and connected emotionally. That’s what Americans are looking for–a emotionally-based reason to vote. It’s how national elections are decided by low-information voters. They don’t vote logically. They vote emotionally.

The Obama campaign needs to stop thinking logically, and start thinking emotionally. David Plouffe had this to say in tomorrow’s edition of New York Times:

“Democrats should take a deep breath and realize that there are a group of voters who won’t make up their mind about a candidate until deep in the fall,” said David Plouffe, Mr. Obama’s campaign manager. “And there are 18 states that are battlegrounds for a reason, and they’ll be decided by 2 to 4 points. I don’t care about national polls.”

Uh, David, people ARE paying attention—especially to the definition of the candidate. As any committed political strategist knows, the definition of the OTHER candidate starts once you’ve won the primary election. A recent poll showed that 69% percent of voters had seen the Paris-Britney celebrity ad, and it shows that they ARE tuning in and paying attention to what’s going on in politics. Never make the assumption that people aren’t paying attention because when that happens…….you lose. 

This isn’t chicken littleism. This is tough talk with a heavy dose of realism.

August 17, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Slink, I think you should post this at DKos – I’ll rec’d the hell out of it.

    Comment by dansac | August 17, 2008 | Reply

  2. McCain has succesfully transformed himself into a disciplined, nuance free, Rove style campaign robot. It’s frightening to behold. I can only hope that eight years of Dick Cheney is too much to overcome. As usual, America will get the president it deserves.

    Comment by silver heron | August 17, 2008 | Reply

  3. You should post this. I posted something similar, last night, and of course folks did not agree.

    The nuanced thing needs to be thrown OUT after the convention. I don’t like black/white, but by October 15th that is what low info voters look for.

    Also, I do believe that McCain was rallying his base, he has too, they are not that crazy about him. Obama was having a conversation to allow folks into listen, thus make a decision or to begin one about him.

    Last night was not the end of anything, many Americans did not see this and are not paying attention, so good for us, but Barack need to pick it up and start to run with it after the convention.

    Comment by icebergslim | August 17, 2008 | Reply

  4. After Obama finished his interview at Saddleback, I turned to my wife and said fantastic, he knocked it out of the ballpark. And then came McCain. He’s never been more engaging, more excited, and has never connected more emotionally with his audience. He owned the evening. I could fault Rick Warren for trying to contain Obama’s longer answers and letting McCain have all the time he wanted to go on and on about his torture and anything else he wanted to campaign about. Obama answered the questions with personal answers from his heart, while McCain’s answers were not personal at all (except for the torture stuff) but just extended campaign talking points. Warren let him off the hook. Obama needs to figure out how to answer a question without so much hesitation and fumbling around.

    Comment by Michael | August 17, 2008 | Reply

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