Sunday, July 31, 2011

Strategy Memo for the Democrats

Stanley Greenberg offers a very insightful column in the Sunday Review section of today's New York Times. Greenberg, Bill Clinton's former pollster and principal of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, offers some useful suggestions for Democrats seeking to regain the faith and support of voters. 

Recent polls show that the majority of Americans support President Obama, the Senate Democrats, and their efforts to handle the debt ceiling debacle. Moreover, voters are disappointed by the sentiments of Speaker Boehner and House Republicans and their support of proposals like "Cut, Cap, and Balance." 

Unfortunately, even the voters who have a pretty good understanding of the ins and outs of the debt ceiling debate have short-term memories. By the time November 2012 rolls around, Obama and the Democrats' actions will seem like relics of the past, especially if unemployment continues to hover around 9%. 

What Democrats need to do is follow Greenberg's advice:

If they are to win trust, and votes, Democrats must show they are as determined as the Tea Party movement to change the rules of the game. In our surveys and media work for Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign, we found that only if people thought a candidate was going to change government in fundamental ways — starting with welfare and reinventing government — would they give permission to spend their money.

The same is true today. In our recent Web survey of 2,000 respondents, voters respond strongly to Democratic messages on the economy only when a party leader declares, “We have to start by changing Washington. ... The middle class won’t catch a break until we confront the power of money and the lobbyists.”

In other words, according to Greenberg, it's time for Democrats to shift both their narrative and their actions to better appeal to the preferences of average middle-class, hard-working Americans. It's time to put some muscle behind the message that Democrats stand for those who reside on Main Street, not Wall Street.

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