There's nothing unusual about this electorate
by Endymion, Fri Jun 25, 2010 at 01:50:37 PM EDT
I keep reading, everywhere I go, that voters are angry. And that's true, for what it's worth. But I keep reading as well that this is News, and that makes me bloody furious.
It's ridiculous. Voters are always in a foul mood. Congress especially is always universally loathed. There's nothing special about voters' opinions this year vs. any other year, except that this year "voter are in a foul mood" is The Story.
It's important that we know The Story, of course, because that's how the history books will understand what's going to happen. But don't expect The Story to give any insight into how to win. What we're looking at is a deficit economics election, not a voter discontent election.
Just like it's cheaper to build a road now than it ought to be, it's cheaper to staff a volunteer-based (or even paid-staff-based) campaign. Challengers' campaigns have to be based around volunteer involvement because big-money media strategies are out of their reach financially; surround those campaigns with unwillingly-idle hands of any political stripe and they'll operate at 200%. Meanwhile the incumbent candidates (all used to big-spending media blitzes to squash challengers) are finding that not only do they need to spend more than they thought to counter the surge in volunteerism, but they can't raise money like they usually do.
So poorly-adapted-to-current-conditions and underfunded incumbent campaigns are going up against shoestring campaigns in overdrive, and the results are predictable. If you want to win in November, or before November; if you want Democrats to win (and I submit that Democratic victory is what we need, even if, like me, you're having trouble finding a reason to want it) then you're going to have to refocus away from good-economy strategies and toward strategies that take deliberate advantage of our current historic-high unemployment.
Mostly, that means building a campaign that's much more work than you'd ever want it to be. But don't worry, there's a lot more bored potential help out there than you're used to.
Disclosure: I am an unemployed field organizer who would benefit personally from more investment in people-driven campaigning. But my point was, so is a good 10% of the population right now.
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