Election Groundgame–Advantage: Unions

We all know this election is going to come down to turn-out–getting the base to show up at the polls.  President Obama has a big advantage here because the union bosses are managing Democratic Party canvassing and get-out-the-vote efforts. The unions are President Obama’s boots-on-the-ground in these final weeks.

AFL-CIO big boss Richard Trumka has been campaigning in swing states to get union members energized for Obama. He has pledged to put 400,000 union members to work for Team Obama.  Already, AFL-CIO says it has registered more than 450,000 new voters from union households over the past 18 months.  And they have registered 68,000 new voters in the key swing state of Ohio. Given the tightening polls, these efforts in the Buckeye State alone could bring President Obama to victory.

Publically, Obama has been distancing himself from the unions.  Scott Walker’s recall election showed Team Obama that public sector unions do not poll well with likely voters.  So President Obama has trying to show his independence from the unions and the unions have been expressing their disappointment with President Obama.  But President Obama is still the first union-label president, and the unions’ agenda remains his agenda.   The unions know their future growth and survival as a relevant movement depends on his re-election.

So, in these final weeks, the unions are going full out for President Obama.  The unions will spend over $500 million on this campaign.  And if President Obama wins, this will prove to be money well invested.  The unions will get greater access to the White House, new executive orders opening up new groups of workers for them to unionize, more favorable decisions from the National Labor Relations Board, and the opportunity to unionize millions more health care workers under Obamacare.  If Governor Romney wins, the unions will be out in the cold for four long years, or longer.  So, the unions are betting big on this race, and if Obama wins, he will owe the unions who will have made the difference

Miniter: Is Romney Actually Electable?

Forbes contributor (and friend) Richard Miniter asks the question.

(By the way, be sure to check out Richard’s web site and pick up a copy of his groundbreaking book: “MASTERMIND: The Many Faces of the 9/11 Architect, Khalid Shaikh Mohammad.”)

What Newt and Rick Have Done

For more than 20 years, Republican candidates have tacitly accepted the biases of the media and popular culture.  They’ve softened their rhetoric on education, social issues, “green energy”, the social welfare state and foreign policy, becoming politically-correct caricatures of conservatism.  The tone has been almost apologetic.

No more.

Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum* have put forward a blueprint for Republicans:  When facing down the media, the establishment and the left, do not play on their turf, using their language, accepting their biases within their rigged system.

Gingrich has been blunt, direct and unapologetic.  When challenged, he has punched back.  Santorum has engaged voters with an encyclopedic knowledge of policy and political theory.

Political consultants would tell Gingrich to be “nicer” and “softer.”  They’d tell Santorum that he shouldn’t “talk over the voters heads.”  They’d want both to adopt fuzzy, dumbed-down, focus-grouped sound bites.

No more.

The lesson for Republican candidates: Talk directly to the voters, unequivocally and forcefully and with a fearless conviction that conservative philosophy is right and good and effective and honorable.

No more apologies.


*I have spent the past few weeks as an consultant to the Santorum campaign.

Newt’s Night

I really enjoyed watching Newt last night in the South Carolina debate.  He just killed it.  His back and forth with Juan Williams
on minority (un)employment showed that when Newt is on, he really can nail the left on its abject lack of common sense.  When Williams asked Newt whether suggesting that having poor kids work as janitors is somehow “racially insensitive” and demeaning to minorities, Newt simply said, “no”.  He went on to say:

I believe every American of every background has been endowed by their Creator with the right to pursue happiness, and if that makes liberals unhappy, I’m going to continue to find ways to help poor people learn how to get a job, learn how to get a better job, and learn someday to own the job.

Only on the left is having a job as a janitor worse than no job at all.  Of course, being a lowly janitor is no job for a poor person, right?  After all, it’s much better economically to stay home and collect welfare, food stamps and all sorts of other federal and state programs.

All of which is to state the obvious about leftism — it’s more concerned with equality than with opportunity.  In this view of the world, the person who started in the mail room and grew up to be the CEO of the company is a (literal) impossibility.  Work where? In the mail room? And risk a paper cut? (wait, do they even have mail rooms any more?  Never mind — you get the idea).

On the left, work that isn’t well paid with cradle-to-grave benefits is somehow demeaning and not worth having.  The left misses an essential point that conservatives seem to understand clearly: work is, in itself, an essential element of a healthy life.  Work generates self-esteem, independence and the ability to make independent decisions.  It’s affirming.  Whether it’s being a janitor or a bus driver or a construction worker, earning a pay check is a good thing.

So the crowd last night at the South Carolina debate stood and cheered Newt when he pointed out the shear lunacy of Williams’ question, and responded with a credo that any conservative can support: we affirm the right for any American — of any background or race — to get a job and make something of themselves.  It’s the American dream.

PJMedia.com Op-Ed on the New Hampshire Yard Signs

I have a full op-ed over at PJMedia.com today building on my “Telling Signs in New Hampshire” post from last week.

Here is a secret: If you want to predict a general election, count the number of Republican yard signs in “purple” neighborhoods.

Take a drive through an upper-middle class community in a swing state. Find the subdivision where there’s a coffee shop on the corner and an organic grocery store not too far away, ideally where the Priuses outnumber the SUV’s… but not by much. Find the block where the adults are academics, professionals, or government employees and where every household has a couple of kids in the public schools. The voter breakdown in the ideal “purple” neighborhood is about a third Republican, a third Democrat, and a third independent.

Now count the Republican yard signs. Signs are not polling data, and they are certainly not election returns, but a yard sign is a definitive measure of three things: Support (obviously); intensity; and –  most importantly  — a voter’s willingness to make his political opinions known to his neighbors. A yard sign — especially in a “hostile” environment — is a symbol of political courage, a sign of an impending shift in public opinion.

The early returns are in.  Read the whole thing.

In Iowa, A Tale of Two Speeches

I watched with interest both “victory” speeches last night after the Iowa Caucuses — the first by Rick Santorum and the second by Mitt Romney.  As I write this a total of five votes separate the two, with Santorum in the lead after 98% of the vote counted. Conventional wisdom in primary elections holds that even if Romney eeks out a small numerical victory in the end, Santorum’s unexpected strong showing makes this a victory irregardless of the vote tally.  Coming out of Iowa, the GOP contest looks increasingly like a two-person race.

And if the victory speeches are any indication, I think Romney may be in for a tough fight.  Santorum spoke without notes, from the heart, invoking his faith, his love of family and country, in a very personal way.  His goal was to introduce himself to arguably the largest TV audience he has ever spoken to — something he did exceedingly well.  He talked about his ideas for the country, his desire to return America back to “first principles” — to the notion that the Constitution creates government derived from the God-given consent of the people,  and that the state works for us and not the other way around.   It was compelling, and will clearly appeal to the Libertarian-leaning conservatives who are searching for a Romney alternative, and who know that Ron Paul can’t win.  They very well may have found one tonight. [Read more…]

Two Factors That Will Affect the Final Iowa Numbers

Here’s a pretty good video explaining how caucuses work.

There are a couple of other things to keep in mind.

1. The first line of the explanation on the video is: “If you show up here tonight…”  This is the point I made the other day.

The advantage goes to the candidates whose supporters have been to caucus before and who have deep roots in their communities.  Remember, caucus sites are in churches, community centers and schools.  (There are no more living room caucuses because of ADA requirements.) [Read more…]

New Hampshire Polling

Magellan Strategies:

  1. Romney 41%
  2. Paul 21%
  3. Gingrich 12%
  4. Huntsman 12%
  5. Santorum 4%
  6. Bachmann 4%
  7. Perry 3%

New Hampshire is setting up to be a big momentum state for the Romney Campaign on January 10th.  New Hampshire primary voters in the past have produced some surprise winners but currently that does not appear to be the case in 2012.

Romney’s numbers have been solid throughout.  The race is for second place… and the sub-hed in the story on Romney’s win.  The Santorum/Bachmann/Perry ideological grouping adds up to 11%, but expect some extreme volatility in slots 2-5 in the days following tomorrow’s Iowa caucuses.

Santorum’s South Carolina “Underground” Strength

I haven’t seen anyone in the national media covering this, but… Rick Santorum’s (already formidable) grassroots organization in South Carolina is just the tip of the iceberg.

Santorum has been in South Carolina a lot over the past two years.  While other candidates have rolled through the state with over-produced campaign appearances that insulate them from all but the highest-level party leadership, Santorum has been in dozens (hundreds?) of living rooms and spoken at – and hung around after – every Republican meeting, breakfast or picnic.

(Stop me when this starts to sound familiar, Iowans.) [Read more…]

A Rule of Thumb When Betting on Caucuses

Always bet on the candidate whose supporters have been to caucus before.

People always make the mistake of assuming that you can handicap caucuses the way you handicap actual elections.  (Keep that in mind when you’re reading the polls.)

Compared to caucuses, elections are simple.  A voter shows up at the polling place between the hours of 7 am and 7 pm (roughly), checks in, votes, and leaves.    No problem.  It takes about ten minutes.  Got a morning meeting?  Swing by the polling place at lunch.  Or after work.  Or just vote absentee.  For a first-time voter, it’s pretty user-friendly. [Read more…]