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The more I follow politics, the more I realize that the secret to electoral success is simple: motivate your base while appealing to independent voters.
It is why social issues are not the winning ticket for the GOP. They may motivate the base, but they won’t appeal to independent voters more concerned about bread-and-butter issues.
Obama did that in 2008. He was able to motivate his party’s base by presenting himself as the antithesis of their bogeyman, the then-incumbent president of the United States. Not just that, many on the left, aware of his radical associations and liberal voting record, were particularly excited by his candidacy. In the fall campaign, he was able to appeal to independent voters by promising fiscal policies more restrained than those of the then-current team. The mantra of “change” held together these constituencies with discordant concerns.
This past week in Massachusetts, Scott Brown appealed to the Republican base by opposing the big government initiatives put forward by the Obama Administration and championed by Democrats in Congress. It just so happened that independents were also concerned by this vast expansion of government. In this case, the issues which motivated Brown’s base also appealed to independent voters.
It’s not just Democrats who have much to learn from Brown’s victory. Republicans can also take a lesson from his campaign. If they wish to regain and retain the majority , they need to focus on that aspects of our platform which appeal to a broader segment of the population. They did that in 1994 by drawing up the Contract with America which included those core conservative concerns which most resonated with independent voters.
In elections across the country–and not just in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts, Republicans are winning back those independent voters. In “open revolt against an urban-centric regime“, suburban voters are returning to the GOP in droves. And if the Democrats keep trying to pick out pockets and the Republicans stay out of people’s bedrooms (to borrow an idea from a recent post on Pajamas), then those voters with remain on the right and with the GOP.