[FoRK] Funny or infuriating? The Arrogance of the Shrub

snitilicious at tampabay.rr.com snitilicious at tampabay.rr.com
Wed Apr 28 04:14:36 PDT 2004

At 07:17 PM 4/27/2004, Russell Turpin wrote:
>I think the incident is meaningless. As is Kerry's
>calling one of his Secret Service agents a "son of
>a bitch," after a snowboarding accident.
>The fact that both of these stories are making
>the rounds has some meaning. It shows the
>seamier side of ubiquitous observation, constant
>news, internet speed communication, and
>feeding the Drudge denominator.

I have a friend who used to work for the Republican party, first under 
Reagan and then with the Dole campaign. He thinks that this will be the 
most negative presdinential election campaign ever. Why? Each side has 
decided to focus on their core constituency. They aren't interested in 
independents, swing voters, or extremists on their own side of the aisle. 
They just can't predict who these voters are going to hang a chad for. Best 
to keep them home apathetic or pissed off.

Now, what I see happening is this: If this is an accurate characterization 
of strategy (my friend points to the tests Rove ran in 2002), the audience 
to which a negative campaign is directed aren't the opposition or even the 
independents. Rather, the audience is the core constituency. The point is 
to get them fired up and to the polls. Neither side can afford to lose the 
core to apathy; they do want to lose independents to apathy.

So, take the cable installation guy we got to know a few months ago. His 
truck sported a Bush/Cheney 2000 sticker. We learned that Carey was 
absolutely pissed about the Iraq war--and this was 2.5 months ago! Now, he 
might decide that, since he couldn't stomach hanging a chad for a Lib'rul, 
he'd rather just stay home in protest, write in his dog, or vote for some 
third party candidate.

The goal is to get people like Carey so pissed off about the evil Kerrybot 
(or the Evil Shrub) that he'll reluctantly get off his ass and vote for the 
Great Shrub or the Evil KErrybot.

Now, my friend--who happens to despise Shrub as a liar and embarrassment to 
his party--happens to think this is a bad strategy for the Kerry campaign. 
Given the Iraq war, perhaps there are too many swings voters, independents, 
etc. who'll support the presdinet and that'll tip the balance. Plus, Shrub 
has twice the money, the incumbency, and new strategies for getting out the 
vote. They have set out to train 52k voluntters in the techniques used in 
Georgia and apply them to the battleground states. Georgia is significant 
because, as my friend writes:

    in 2002, karl rove set up this 'experiment' in the senate elections
    to see what kind of campaign would be most effective in this new
    political environment.  he targeted five democratic senate seats and
    ran  different campaigns with different basic themes; one was
    successful beyond all expectations: the senate campaign in georgia,
    where saxby chambliss beat war hero max cleland.

Those techniques involved an extremely negative campaigns, smear tactics, 
planting stories among the 'grassroots' and circulating them as furiously 
as possible, etc.

However, as Roy Tuxeraria 
has noted, this doesn't seem to be working for Shrub in the battleground 
states. The battleground states are where the Busheviks are spending all 
their money, negative campaigning most severely. Their goal is to define 
Kerry as negatively as possible.

But all this has accomplished is to give Kerry a 4 point lead in the 
battleground states, even accounting for 7 points wasted on Nadir. In the 
safe states, the negative campaign is driving the presdinet's natural 
supporters to register support for Shrub, but that's not where Shrub needs 
the votes. Those states are pretty much already locked in.

Given the fact that in this latest poll, Shrub comes in pretty poorly, this 
is interesting news. Normally, a presdinet gets a bounce in approval rating 
right after a crisis or scandal. No matter how badly the opponents try to 
ride the scandal, the presdinet benefits from the "rally around the 
presdinet" effect. This is a pretty crappy rally effect given the crises 
and semi-scandals of the Iraq fiasco, Clarke, and 9.11/Rice testimony.

It's Shrub's election to lose. He may just do a mighty fine job of 
it--he'll probably lose the popular vote but win the EC vote.


More information about the FoRK mailing list