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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

‘Sotto Voce’ Strategy Aims at Purple Seats

Bart Jansen’s CQPolitics post “Softer-Touch Marketing Woos Cross-Party Voter” reports on Democratic consultants’ soft-sell approaches to win GOP-held House districts trending purple. As Jansen explains:

This new breed of campaign consultants typically hews to sotto voce campaign themes: guarded, post-ideological messages that are calculated to reassure cross-party and independent voters…Democrats have to campaign in purple districts ever so softly. A key element of the strategy to hang on to these “majority maker” districts is to downplay any suggestion that the incumbents — mostly members of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition — might rub their constituents the wrong way, ideologically speaking, and to highlight the ways they’ll be fighting on behalf of their districts in more crucial everyday struggles.

Jansen cites the recent victories of Travis W. Childers in N.E. Mississippi and Bart Cazayoux in Baton Rouge as emblematic wins by Blue Dog Dems using soft sell strategies. He quotes retiring Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, former head of the NRCC:

The Democrats have cracked the code, and we still have an admissions test to get into the party and be a candidate…Democrats are smart. They want to win. Our guys still want to be right.

Jansen reports that many of the new Blue Dog candidates are quite conservative, particularly on social issues, though usually more progressive than their Republican opponents on key economic issues. While some liberal Dems have concerns about over-stretching their party’s “Big Tent,’ fortunately the Republican establishment remains hell-bent on pursuing their incredible shrinking tent strategy.

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