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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

On to November

Well, the voters have spoken: Kerry’s the one. And they’re probably right. On balance, Kerry was–is–the best candidate of those available. Richard Gephardt was old news and would have been chopped up for his positions on tax cuts and health care. Howard Dean was an undisciplined campaigner who was easy to typecast as being too extreme. Wes Clark was not ready for prime time. And John Edwards lacked the gravitas, experience and national security street cred to beat Bush.
So that leaves John Kerry. And that’s what we got. I agree with Josh Marshall: Kerry is a very solid candidate and he will–very importantly–not give up on beating Bush until the last dog dies. The guy’s a fighter and we’re going to need that in this election. Someone who fades down the stretch would be disastrous. Kerry won’t.
What should we do now? Get and wear your Kerry buttons, sign up as volunteers, etc. And (very important!) send money. As LiberalOasis argues, the “$100 revolution” started by Howard Dean shouldn’t stop; it should continue as Kerry faces off against Bush. Kerry needs both the money and the type of grassroots politics those small donations promote. Click here to make your contribution. (I did!)
What should Kerry do now? I had some advice for him awhile ago that still seems reasonable. And my post from yesterday tells him what his target should be: independent voters, who are ripe for the picking. Democrats and Republicans are likely to be about equally polarized for their candidates, so it’s up to the independents. Think of it as the national equivalent to the Ohio test. Just as Kerry is very likely to win the election if he can win Ohio, so is he very likely to win the election if he can win independents nationally.
In 1992, Clinton won independents by 6 points and in 1996 he carried them by 8 points. Kerry doesn’t need to win by that much. A couple of points should be more than adequate. Given how fed up independent voters seem with Bush these days, that hardly seems an insurmountable obstacle.

19 comments on “On to November

  1. Tala Norman on


  2. Paul Siegel on

    Let’s not get hung up on names. I don’t think the Democrats should focus on independents, moderates, liberals or conservatives. They should focus on the average guy who is not rich and not benefiting from Bush’s tax cuts.
    John Edwards has it right. There are 2 Americas: the rich and the rest of us. Bush serves the rich. Kerry will serve the rest of us.
    The biggest problem for Kerry and the Democrats is the negative advertisements sure to be thrown at us. Every slur, every lie must be answered. And I think we should do this respectfully. The Democrats should not get into the gutter with the Republicans. Such a strategy will eventually show the population the BIG difference between the 2 parties.

  3. mike on

    attack: massachsetts liberal.
    response: when that viet cong who wounded me caught me in his sites he didn’t say “i’ll let this one go becasue he is from massachusetts and a liberal.”
    Our enemies don’t make these distinctions and neither should we.

  4. David on

    Additionally about the Massachusetts Liberal label, the early history of Massachusetts is U.S. history. John Addams wrote the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. which in turn was used as a pattern for the Constitution of the U.S.

  5. wvmcl on

    Further to Mark Alan’s excellent defense of the Massachusetts Liberal label , how about this:
    “I’m proud to be from the bithplace of such great Americans as Paul Revere, John F. Kennedy, and George Herbert Walker Bush. ”

  6. rt on

    Paul C, I’m not sure what it says about our society but I think your observations about the guy who would “get the girl” winning our recent presidential elections are on the mark.
    Bruce Reed has what I think is a funny and perceptive (albeit self-serving) piece on “wonks and hacks” in the current issue of The Washington Monthly magazine.

  7. rt on

    Paul C, I’m not sure what it says about our society but I think your observations about the guy who would “get the girl” winning our recent presidential elections are on the mark.
    Bruce Reed has what I think is a funny and perceptive piece on “wonks and hacks” in the current issue of The Washington Monthly magazine.

  8. Paul C on

    I have been thinking about something similar to what Bob H just said. If you look at the presidential elections of the past 40 or so years, the guy with the most “sex appeal” has won almost every one. Not necessarily the most macho, but the most vital. Look at the match-ups and decide who would play the leading man and “get the girl” at the end of the movie. Reagan or Carter? Reagan or Mondale??? It is almost unbelievable that GHW Bush could find someone with less sex appeal, but he did, in Mike Dukakis. Clinton/Bush and Clinton/Dole were no contest. Al Gore almost pulled it out with “the kiss,” but then he reverted to his wonky form.
    Kerry can easily top Bush, if he keeps up certain themes and practices. His war hero record and “I know something about aircraft carriers for real” is a great start. His distainful talk about W as the pretend Marlboro Man helps also. Drip by drip, the portrait of W as the effite son of a priviledged family really helps. Kerry may be rich also, but he served in the war rather than getting Daddy to get him into the guard (forget whether he actually served, all of us who lived through that era know what the deal was with the Guard at that time). Kerry may have gone to an elite prep school, but he played hockey there, while W was a cheerleader. The Harley may have been over-contrived, but the idea is right. Theresa can be a great help, if she continues to gaze at John with pride and admiration, like Nancy Reagan used to do. Laura Bush, who may well be a nice lady, has never really connected with the public.
    Vigor and vitality, along with judgment and trustworthyness, should be main themes. We can win with them.

  9. Bob H on

    I just sent in the first of what I hope will be many contributions to the cause. I would like to make a superficial observation:
    Before they even open their mouths, Kerry and Edwards present an image of fighting vigor, physical attractiveness, youthfulness, and optimism. Compare the increasingly haggard and drawn president, the angioplastic VP. The Dem team looks the part. Such things are important-look at California!

  10. John on

    $100 revolution? Try $100 status quo. Astoundingly, we small donors are not the Party’s mad money ATM machine, where they can rack up the cash while selling access to the big bucks.
    You want the money? Start fixing the crooked system.

  11. moraks on

    as a long time kerry supporter, I am very glad to see all of us coalesing around him, times will be rough b4 election day but we must stick together and get these clowns out of the white house. donated before and will donate money and time again.

  12. dmh on

    I think many are seized by the same instinct–the first thing I did this morning was logon and give Kerry my hundred bucks. But I think the challenge should be higher–don’t simply give $100 but give whatever you can, whenever you can. I intend to make another contribution next month, and the month after, etc. so long as I have money to give. Just like paying the gas bill.

  13. Jason Hamilton on

    I’ve been having a lot of drinks with a lot of different democrats over the last few days, and I don’t know any who aren’t falling in with Kerry now that he is the nominee. Even the Kucinich voters are planning on turning out for Kerry. The only people I’ve spoken to who DON’T plan on voting for Kerry are the Republicans and the black-helicopter new-world-order people. And the latter probably aren’t as numerous in the population as they are in my drinking circles.

  14. PhillyGuy on

    I was a Dean supporter who switched to Edwards in the last few weeks. I just donated to the Kerry campaign and will do all that I can to help him win (I also ordered two free bumper stickers from his website). I hope everyone else like me is doing the same.

  15. aleand on

    Does he need a Sista Souljah moment? What should be the target?
    He should try to neutralize the liberal tagging coming his way soon. Not sure how.
    And yes, donate. (click on name.)


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