Friday, January 16, 2015

The Voters We Don't Have

So the GOP has a winning campaign strategy with a number of different names: "Get out the vote", "Motivate our base", "Get out to the polls", etc. This involves no effort to reach the moderate of persuadable voters, just get the Republican stalwarts out. This is a winning strategy. For Texas.

But Republicans insist that this is a winning strategy everywhere, even in places like Maryland, Washington, and New York City, an insistence based on the delusion that a majority of voters in every jurisdiction already agrees with the party. They insist this is true even when the party registration is three to one, as in Maryland, or the entire city to the staff of Fox News, as in NYC.

This misdirects the energies of candidates who focus on turning out an insufficient, or even nearly non-existent, base instead of focusing on winning persuadable or "independent" voters, leaving them chasing GOTV phantoms. This also gives obstinate members of the party an excuse for refusing to do outreach and recruitment, since we "already have the numbers", even when we don't.

This willful blindness makes it that much harder to gain ground in states we don't already control, and more difficult to roll back harmful, destructive policies.

Worse, many defenders of this concept will point to elections with record-low turnout or massive wave elections where every single sway-able vote went to the GOP, with Democrats staying home. They'll claim this is a winning strategy.

Intentionally throwing the game is a winning strategy if your opponent forfeits before they take the field.

The stakes are simply too high to rely on the occasional Democratic forfeit. The Republican Party has to actively attempt to break up and co-opt parts of the Democratic coalition to secure long-term gains achieve the party platform of greater liberty.

The problem is that this is not a path to victory in the next campaign cycle, it's a path to modify trends over the long-term, and upend the current balance of power. It requires a serious, concerted effort, led by the party leadership with support from elected officials, to achieve genuine, noticeable results.

But doing so may forever change American politics for the better.

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