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Bah, We Don' Need No Stinkin' Swing Voters!

Is this great or what? The Washington Post had a front-page article today on "Bush Fortifies Conservative Base: Campaign Seeks Solid Support Before Wooing Swing Voters". According to the story--which is certainly consistent with the Bush campaign's recent choice of rhetoric and audience--the campaign is concentrating single-mindedly on shoring up its conservative base and getting it revved up for the election. As for the swing voters and independents....well, they're just hoping that the same hardline approach they're taking to tax cuts and terrorism to reach GOP partisans will, as kind of an ancillary benefit, somehow also yield a reasonable number of swing voters.

It's the Zen approach to reaching swing voters! You can't hit the target if you're aiming at it!

Or, as James Carville is quoted as saying in the article: "It's a new way to run for president...usually you quietly shore up your base and aggressively court the swing voter, Bush is aggressively shoring up his base and quietly courting the swing voter."

The former approach, of course, is what Kerry is pursuing--he's taking advantage of the exceptionally united Democratic base to go out there and assiduously cultivate swing voters and independents. And the polling data suggest these voters are very open to the Kerry message and are leaning heavily in his direction (see, for example, my many posts over the last several months on independent voters, this post on persuadable voters in swing states and these two recent memos by Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio on undecided voters in battleground states and on “approval gap” voters in battleground states).

These well-known facts have led some GOP partisans to run up the white flag on swing voters, arguing that they are few in number anyway, and put their faith in high turnout of "their people". The reliably hardline, but influential, Grover Norquist has this to say:

How much time and energy do you give to picking up the 10 percent, who are disengaged from politics, and how do you communicate with them even if you want to? You can go to the 45 percent [who already support Bush] and ask them to bring a brother or a sister or a friend to the polls.

Does any of this make any sense or is it properly viewed as an adjustment to political weakness (disunity in the conservative ranks and unfriendly swing voters) that is perhaps congealing into a foolish strategy (the heck with those swing voters, let's call Aunt Mary and get her to the polls!). I believe it's the latter.

Consider this analysis. The article asserts that Republicans have been supporting Bush at about the 90 percent level in this campaign. Averaging the last four Gallup polls, that's about true. But it's also true that, averaging the last four Gallup polls, that Democratic support for Kerry has been running near that level and that the margins of support each candidate enjoys among their partisans are pretty close. Therefore, it appears unlikely that Bush will have as much of an advantage as he did in 2000 from a wider margin among Republicans than his opponent had among Democrats.

If that's true, then Bush is toast unless he erases the Democrats' traditional turnout advantage in Presidential election years (Democrats generally run 3-4 points higher as a proportion of voters), since that advantage won't be offset much by the Republicans' superior margin among their partisans. (That could be part of the reasoning behind their base mobilization strategy.)

But then there are those pesky independent voters! You can erase the Democrats' turnout advantage--which I am, incidentally, quite skeptical they can do, based on recent party ID trends and apparent mobilization levels among Democrats and Democratic organizations--and still wind up losing handily because the independent voters break the tie against you.

And in the last four Gallup polls, independents are averaging a 14 point margin against Bush. To make up that deficit, Republicans would have to not only equalize their turnout with Democrats--against historical patterns--but actually beat the Democrats by about 4 points as a proportion of voters.

I don't think this is remotely plausible. Such a scenario is only possible with high mobilization of Republicans that is not counterbalanced at all by mobilization of Democrats. That just isn't going to happen this year (memo to Rove, Dowd and loveable ole Grover: we're not in 2002 any more); to think it might is a complete fantasy.

But I hope they keep believing it! And let Kerry-Edwards have the swing voters and independents all to themselves.


What truly frightens me, is that 40-45% of the country is so excited at following Bush to destruction that they won't turn on him even if he were to start eating babies on live TV or something let alone try to stonewall investigations.

In addition to Bush's shoring of his own base, Kerry courted young voters who usually don't vote in presidential elections. So Kerry is looking like he'll get at least the same amount of party support, and in addition to that, independents (all polls show Kerry with an advantage with independents), and possibly even a high turnout of young voters (who are usually liberal). This wouldn't surprise me, considering that polls show that younger voters are much more interested in this election. Whether or not this has anything to do with the idea floating area of re-instituting the draft, I'm not so sure they'd be to happen about that prospect!

Kerry also has some problems shoring up his base, or at least that's what the media tells us (with black voters, etc.)

The problem is that the media lies and tricks are designed to soothe swing voters and tell them that Bush is really a great guy and he cares so much about you. Watch the media tear apart the "liberal" Dem convention while fawning all over the GOP convention as being "the soul of America", "the immigrant's dream" (Ahnold), "moderacy and big tent beauty", etc.

This stuff, and the media's constant lies about Iraq and the economy, will have an effect. He's already going back up on terrorism questions, and the more that the media makes people forget about Iraq the more people will fall for the "moderate" sham. They want to believe that no taxes and Jesus-loving can go hand in hand with "strong leaders" like Bush and Cheney. They want to believe that Democrats are just evil corporate Hollywood pandering elites.

Two points. You assume that what the republicans told Wahingtonpost, was, on its face, completely true. Hard to disagree on the heels of MI rally. But I don't buy it. Seems to me to be part of "setting low standards" strategy, and a way to tell the base that 'you're my number one, baby' - no matter *what* we say hereinafter for political reasons. The implication of this communication strategy is point number two: since they obviously need to go after swing voters but can't ever show any 'policy' wavering (especially after Kerry flip flop harangues), to me this is a signal that their *core* strategy is to go negative on Kerry. No real effort to pull towards themselves, only to scare away from Kerry. Things are gonna get real messy.

That' where we come in. We do Kerry's dirty work for him. Leaving him clean, but still screaming enough to beat back some of the Bush tirades and let Kerry rise about the rest.

this is the same thing I told people when I supported Dean. the electorate is so closely split, there are so few swing voters, that it is better to shore up the base and involve new voters than go after the undecided. Perhaps it could have worked for Dean. but the Democratic electorate said that while they liked Dean's appeal they wanted a candidate who would be best positioned to reach to the middle.

Thus Dems have gotten both: an appeal to the base and involvement of new voters, and a candidate who can appeal to the swing voters.

Bush's problem is not that the strategy is stupid but that his positions (war, tax cuts for the rich, intolerance) neither appeal to the middle nor attract new voters in large numbers.

I read the article to say that Bush and Rove are pandering to the base now, because they think that swing voters aren't paying attention. Once the conventions start and the fall campaign season gets in full swing, Bush will tack back to the middle -- watch for a re-emergence of Compassionate Conservativism undertones, i.e. NCLB and Medicare drugs.

In a sense, even though he was unchallenged in the primaries, and thus was not driven fringeward by a challenger, the election is tight enough that Bush still has to appease his base because he is concerned about turn-out. Faced with a choice of doing it now, or doing it in the fall, he's choosing (wisely) to do it now. In the end he'll lose anyway, but he has few other strategic choices: he certainly cant ignore his base because without those votes (and church-group GOTV) there are too many ABB independents.

The communications strategy is easy to explain: they'd rather portray this as supreme confidence, "we are so strong we don't need no French-lovin' moderates," as opposed to the sign of party-splitting weakness that it is. Norquist, especially, knows exactly what's going on. He's not so stupid to think that Bush can keep up this conservative charge and win, so he must realize that in a month or two, Bush will change message. He's just helping sell the current message to the base.

"Does any of this make any sense or is it properly viewed as an adjustment to political weakness (disunity in the conservative ranks and unfriendly swing voters) that is perhaps congealing into a foolish strategy (the heck with those swing voters, let's call Aunt Mary and get her to the polls!). I believe it's the latter."

I have always felt the weakness of this administration's political strategy has been grounded in its single-mindedness. Ther is just no room for disagreement within the rank and file. As a result the Republican party continues to drift further and further to the right where only the most ardent supports will continue to support their positions.

The whole thing becomes a vicious cycle: the more the republican base provides unquestioning support, the more the leaders are beholden to the wishes of the most extreme elements within their ranks. Ultimately they wind up alienating more moderate voters who might have otherwise supported the basic principles of conservatism while overlooking the outspoken far right.

Thank you for reading my mind; I came to the site this moring to ask you, "Is Rove out of his mind, abandoning the Independents?" because of their single-minded appeals to the base.

I could think only of one possibility, that they thought they had new get out the vote techniques that would be enough to carry them through. But in face of the statistics, that seemed unlikely. And the only such initiative I had hear of, using fundamentalist churches as their agents. seemed unlikely to generate the necessary numbers.

The only other strategy I see is mentioned by Silent E, a "bait and switch" after the convention. But are the independents just going to forget what Bush has been saying if they see him hugging a couple of kids again. I doubt the power of advertising either to shift the public's view of Bush (which is pretty well settled) or to tarnish Kerry's image sufficiently to overcome Bush's current deficit among independents.

In short, I think Rove et al. are nuts.

"Back in 2000 a Republican friend warned me that if I voted for Al Gore and he won, the stock market would tank, we'd lose millions of jobs, and our military would be totally overstretched. "

"Know what?"

"I did vote for Gore, he did win, and I'll be damned if all those things didn't come true!" - James Carville

5th grade teacher asks the children what their fathers do for a living, gets all the typical answers -- fireman, policeman, salesman, doctor, lawyer.

Little Johnnie says,
"My father's an exotic dancer in a gay cabaret and takes off all his clothes in front of other men. Sometimes, if the offer's really good, he'll go out to the alley with some guy and have sex with him for money."

The teacher takes little Johnnie out in the hall, "Is that really true about your father?"

"No," said Johnnie, "He works for the Bush campaign, but I was too
embarrassed to say that in front of the other kids."

I think Silent E has it right, that W. will tack back to the center in the fall. The real evidence of this is the Convention speakers line-up. All socially moderate GOPpers.

I think the real answer, however, is that Rove doesn't know exactly what to do -- he does not have an overall grand winning strategy in his mind, especially now that $80 million in negative ads has not had their intended effects. I look for a lot of tacks back and forth.

...Bush is toast unless he erases the Democrats' traditional turnout advantage in Presidential election years

The Dems turnout advantage only has to be erased in certain critical "swing" states. This year voter suppression programs in big city traditional Democratic strongholds by Republican governors don't have to be covert or even clever . In the guise of security, Jeb Bush and Bob Taft (among others) can openly intimidate, confuse and slow down voters. It will take months or years for commissions to determine if they went too far and by then it will be too late.

Bush has a questionable strategy. When I heard Bush was campaigning in WI, I thought he had some reason to be confident enough to court swing voters in swing states. This does not seem the case.

Why on earth is Bush campaigning in Waukesha County (population 374,000) that he won with 65% of the vote? Does he really expect to improve on that margin? I don't believe Bush did particularly well in suburbs, but rather Gore did particularly poorly.

Bush seems as if swing voters is not his priority with only 3.5 months before the election: "(Bush) railed against Democrats for holding up his judicial nominees -- an issue dear to social conservatives but unlikely to motivate typical voters".

How is Bush going to court enough swing voters when "Bush restrict(s) access to campaign events, (citing news accounts about) people being turned away from Bush events because they were not supporters".?? By contrast "those who attend Kerry rallies are not asked about their loyalties."

Does he really expect to improve turnout that substantially? GOP-leaning turnout was already stocked after being frustrated by Clinton's two victories. Now his base may have serious questions about Bush, including but not limited to :

"Bush championed a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, risking a backlash from moderate voters, and economic conservatives have complained about the budget deficits that roared back under this administration."

Or his he just desperate for cameras to see him around adoring fans, preaching conservative agendas to the choir, to create the impression that he has greater support-- hoping to frustrate Democrats' optimism?

Already the aura of invincibility around Bush is deflating -- Rasmussen's (pro-GOP) poll shows that more believe that Kerry can win / Bush will lose than ever before!

More good news from Rasmussen's (pro-GOP) poll :

----"(Thursday July 15) marks the sixth straight day the Tracking Poll has found the Kerry-Edwards ticket ahead by three points or more. Prior to this, neither candidate had ever held a three point lead for more than three consecutive days."... "The Kerry bounce has come primarily from solidifying his base and reducing the number of people who say they will vote for "some other candidate."

----Bush's job approval/disapproval: Bush's "strongly disapprove" is (and often has been) larger than his "strongly approve", leaving Bush leaning on softer "somewhat approve" voters to improve his numbers.

----Every single electoral vote projection Rasmussen has conducted (7 for 7 so far) shows Kerry with more EV (excluding tossups) than Bush!
The latest featured Pro-Dem swings in OR and AR and 8 other states.

Tony Fabrizio's polls are similarly encouraging for a Democratic victory. Serious doubts about Bush and the direction of the country are coupled with more favorable views of Kerry and more anti_bush ads reaching undecideds and "approval gap" voters.

---His polls show that only 44% LV in battleground states (10 Bush states --if you include FL-- vs 9 Gore states) are ready to support Bush.

---14% of those who approve of Bush's performance (standing in for President-Elect Al Gore) are not ready to support Bush.
DO THE MATH: 51.6% job approval (higher than most battleground polls) minus 44.3% Pro-Bush vote equals 7.3%. 7.3% divided by the original pool of 51.6% equals 14% of those who "approve" of Bush. The poll also suggests that 7% of those who approve of Bush's performance are planning on voting for Kerry and 1-2% are planning on voting for Nader (maybe Nader will come in handy, in the few states he can get on the ballot that is).

All reinforcing Ruy's calming mantra that this is a referendum on the incumbent. Seeing Bush preaching to the choir more than in 2000 -- and devoting less time to swing voters and trying to appear moderate--- suggests the yes/no on Bush may remain a majority "no".

"(Kerry) has a base that is largely unified by anti-Bush fervor -- so much so that he has raised money faster than Bush and has been able to adopt conservative rhetoric on some issues with no outcry from his core supporters. That leaves him free to court swing voters."

Now we just have to continue to support our turnout: AmericaComingTogether and AmericaVotes can still use your help ($ or volunteering). NAACP is working to prevent another voting fraud disaster in FL. Unions are rallying their members (please volunteer, union workers!) ActBlue.com is recommending specific candidates to support in important, close races where $ or volunteering will be truly helpful to win back Congress. Find out if your state Dem party or local Dem party is GOTV and support them or volunteer! There is enough public support for Kerry or against Bush and there are plenty of people looking to put it to good use! Help get people to the polls to make these encouraging signs count! The most important poll is on election day -- and there is plenty of work to do to prepare for a Democratic victory that will benefit so many whom Bush has unfairly Left Behind (children, women, unemployed, etc.)!

Boy, oh boy. If this goes on like that I really won't be able to deal with defeat come November (not that I ever was). So I always try to take it with a grain of salt. After all, this is Karl "Lucifer/Dark Prince/Sauron/Macchiavelli" Rove who won mid-term elections, for heaven's sake!

But there are parallels to 1992. The team of Bush I went into the election counting on the strategy that worked so well in '88: conservative values, negative campaigning. There was a Black Prince as well, Lee Atwater, who wasn't at the top in '92 but provided a blue print feared by the Democrats and revered by the Republicans. The GOP stuck to it – for too long, as it turned out. Because the Dems had learned their leason (remember the War room) and the public was fed up of cheap accusations about philandering and pot smoking.

Fast forward to 2004. There has been much talk of negative campaigning being a goner during the '90s. But 2000 was effectively an Atwater campaign with the Republicans promoting non-issues like Gore's inventing the internet and fibbing about his dog's arthritis medicine – with a little help from the media. Negativity still worked. And it worked again in 2002, ask Max Cleland. So Rove's troops stuck to it during spring 2004. Why shouldn't they?

But, hey, the Rove/Atwater formula doesn't seem to work anymore. Kerry may be an aloof elitist french speaking filthy stinking rich liberal – but a majority of Americans doesn't care. Not yet, Rove may be thinking. After all the attacks on Gore did their magic only in October after a bad first debate.

So let's hope Rove is caught in the Atwater trap. Because my hope is: After a couple of negative campaigns the public will yearn for some substance. (Only to be lured into non-issues again after some years of good management at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. But let's not despair of the 2016 elections, shall we?)

Their strategy is quite transparent actually.
Step 1. Keep the base fired up as long as possible.
Step 2. Sustained attacks on Kerry.
Step 3. Worry about the undecided last.
With the polls virtually tied within the margin of error, after all that has hit this doesn't seem all that implausible. They don't call them "swing" voters for nothing. They believe these people can be pesuaded with a few images and reassuring lies just days before the election. The swing voter is by nature a fickle entity. Why waste resources this early on people with the attention span of a gnat.

Could it also be that the Bush campaign (just like the Bush administration) is telling us all that black is white?
---Dowd tells us that Bush can still win with (an abysmal) 45% job approval, when Fabrizio's "approval gap" suggests that Bush would really need at least 55% job approval (or to close the approval gap) just to win a majority of votes!
---Dowd, Rove, and Norquist insist that appealing to conservatives is enough... perhaps to deny how precarious Bush's chances are now?

Bush is now where Gore was in 2000. Gore had problems consolidating his base (they fled to Nader or to Bush or stayed home) while Bush had a motivated base that allowed him to run as a moderate.

Now Kerry has a highly energized base (record-breaking fund-raising and an even higher disapproval of Bush than Republicans had of Clinton-Gore) and will be free to court swing voters with moderate proposals (which the DLC can readily supply) and cut into Bush's 2000 moderates. Kerry's base is even more motivated and even more undecides came to Kerry just by selecting John Edwards.

The diligent work of supportive groups like moveon.org and americacomingtogether.org and newdem.org and the media fund and labor unions will help to buffer the August aunslaught that is causing so much anxiety. And if Bush can not convince enough moderates and independents (now sharply against him -- in some polls even more than the nation as a whole) by the convention or the debates, he will struggle to increase turnout enough to compensate.

At the same time Bush must put out fires of conservative unrest and scare them into action with issues that do not motivate or sit well with moderates. The Bush campaign is telling you that they are preaching to the choir because they want to (black)... but could it be because they HAVE TO (white).

The more Bush and Cheney and Dowd and Rove have to stray from their master game plan, the less time they have to take care of the independent voters they really need!

This has even further implications: Bush and many GOP staffers were called up to campaign heavily (the most fervent midterm campaign for a sitting president by many accounts) for 2002 midterms, producing GOP gains of ONLY +5 house and +2 senate, many of these being close GOP victories in vulnerable districts in battleground states. At the time, the president was unquestioned on foreign affairs or terrorism, the GOP had a coordinated strategy (the DCCC under Gephardt had none and were too timid to contrast themselves with the GOP) , the GOP wrapped themselves in the flag, and "patriotism" was abused to denote unquestioning support for GWB, who had atmospheric 70% job approval. Now, Bush's job approval is down at or below 50%, his approval on terrorism, foreign affairs, homeland security, and Iraq have plummetted and many of these staffers will be pressed into the service of the president rather than the Congressional candidates. Many GOP congressional seats are now vulnerable in both houses, Pelosi is a much more focused and effective leader, a record number of Americans and independents say that the nation is on the wrong track, and with one-party dominance in Washington it can be easier to anti-incumbent mood against the GOP. Already pro-Republican districts in Kentucky and South Dakota have repudiated candidates that ran too close to Bush. There is reason to be optimistic and all the more reason to continue to diligently support candidates like Kerry+Edwards that can put America back on the right track.

"As Philip Klinkner of Hamilton College pointed out in a recent paper, only about 36 percent of voters in the 2000 election lived in a county that either George W. Bush or Al Gore won by more than 60 percent. That means that two-thirds of the electorate lives in counties that are competitive". (www.prospect.org --> "Kerry's Non-southern Strategy" July 9,2004)

In a 50-50 nation, if only a fifth of counties gave Bush 60% or more, while two-thirds are truly competitive, why wouldn't Bush rather be spending his time in competitive counties, districts? This is not the plan of a campaign that has his base in order!

I just want to thank you for using the word "assiduously" in your article. You don't see that one very often. Shows real class.

I'm thinking that Ruy has it correct on the GOP strategy, but I'm not as convinced as he is that it is a losing proposition for them.

They appear to be gambling everything on voter turnout. This is three pronged - fire up their own base with the FMA-type of stuff, turn off (and therefore keep home) the undecideds by taking the campaign to new depths of negativity, and erode Kerry's own support using the same negativity.

I also think they are banking to some degree on a bursting of the Kerry bubble. As the campaign intensifies in the fall, at some point there will be pockets of second guessing within the part of the base that votes the party but doesn't live it. "This is who we nominated?" Kind of similar to the Dean bubble, which was built on a similar dynamic - reactionary fervor against Bush policy.

The big factor that know one seems to be talking about is this, if the bushies seem to be operating with a questionable strategy, could it be that they already know the results of the election? They don't need to worry about any undecided or any other factors now do they? Just have that October surprise and then show us the election results and who will question it?

And to one other thing, bush did not win in 2000, period. All of their republican crap lost that election and that is a fact.

The last time I voted a straight party ticket was in Louisianna in '74. They only had one party for local elections. I'm fiscally conservative but believe strongly in progressive taxation and I am socially moderate. This Year I joined the DNC and also contributed to John Kerry, the first donation I've made to a party and to a presidential candidate. The times are changing and John Kerry and correct in saying that America needs to be America again.

I agree that the Reagan/Atwater strategy may no longer work. The evangelicals no longer believe that R's will ban abortion and mandate prayer in schools, the fiscal conservatives no longer believe that R's mean less government, nobody believes in "taxes down, economy up, taxes up, economy down" anymore, and testosterone as a foreign policy, while quite exciting for a while, has turned out to be depressing and expensive over the long term. (Is my cynicism showing here?)

The Cheney/Rumsfeld administration is toast, IMHO, UNLESS several not-completely-unlikely events come to pass:

1) Osama produced at the right time.
2) Dick gets too sick and somebody exciting like McCain stands in.
4) John or John screws up.

As these two great authors point out in their fantastic book, about 75% of the counties in the US are rural. The Republicans usually win these without a problem because of social issues, or at least that's the way it probably was in 2000. These counties may not have a lot of people, but if a 100-300 people here and there, for instance, go out and vote for Bush, it could make the difference. In Iowa, Gore won by 4,000 votes, while he won by 5,000 in Wisconsin. If he gets enough of the people who don't like abortion or gay marriage, to take two huge ssues, to the polls for Dubya, Rove can win it.

Maybe Bush doesn't expect an election. Therefore he has to consolidate his conservative base to make sure that they will support a coup.

Have a nice day, Internet viewers.

> I have always felt the weakness of this
> administration's political strategy has been
> grounded in its single-mindedness. Ther is just
> no room for disagreement within the rank and
> file.

For a good example, read Stephen Moore's defense of Cheney in THE WEEKLY STANDARD. The contrast is striking, isn't it? This year, the Dems have been fervently looking for the prez+VP combo most likely to beat "Shrub" in the November elections. Ideology has taken a back seat to pragmatism and electability. Not so on the GOP side!

Surely Moore (the "Club for Growth" anti-tax lobbying group leader) must know Cheney is a liability on the campaign trail except perhaps when dealing with rabid GOP partisans already in the Bush fold? Do they really want a hardline, controversial conservative closely associated with the Administration's biggest fiascos in Iraq and elsewhere on the ticket, in an election that's expected to be extremely close?


It may very well work to bring Aunt Mary to the polls with you but consider this.....Aunt Mary probably lives in Alabama or Utah, the same state as her nephew, and her vote will have little impact if her state would have gone for Bush anyway. Bush can pump up the evangelicals all he wants but they appear to be predominantly clustered in the "Bible Belt" states. I fail to see a winning strategy in this.

Rove's "4 million evangelicals" who didn't turn out in the last election are likely a figment of Karl's imagination in that they generally live in solidly red states already.

People aged 54 and above and with an IQ high enough to remember will recall that the "ignore the swing voter, energize the base" strategy, though not with the use of that precise terminology (words like "base" weren't the common political parlance then), was the constant argument of Goldwater partisans in 1964--right up until election day. At the time it was fairly obvious that this was wishful thinking stemming from that campaign's obvious lack of appeal to swing voters.

Rusty's prediction of the Kerry bubble burst is wrong, in my opinion. I don't think that you'll see Democrats second-guessing Kerry. They are single-minded in their desire to defeat Bush.

Maybe Bush isn't campaigning hard because he doesn't need to. Perhaps Rove has an October surprise cooked up for us all, it could be capturing Osama, or more likely, a terrorist attack . All Bush has to do is order his boys at the FBI/CIA/Pentagon to "let one through" in September or October, and the fearful rubes elect Bush in a landslide.

If Bush has something planned, then I don't blame him for not campaigning hard.

This election is going to be about who appears more forthright, determined, focused, decisive.

Bush has that over Kerry by a long margin (probably unfairly, but there you go).

As both parties see high turnout from their base as key to victory in November, this recommendation about shoring up the Democratic African American base seems appropriate. Blacks gave Gore and Clinton twice margins on the order of 90-10. Any bloc that can vote that reliably democratic should be encouraged to come and out and vote as much as practical. But as this article suggests, Democratic loyalty and high turnout is concentrated among older Blacks. This is problematic when the African American population is on average nine years younger than the average white and will have a shorter life expectancy and may be more likely to have health problems that could limit their ability to come to the polls. I thought this article, in the form of an open letter to John Kerry, was a useful description of the concerns and needs of the younger hip-hop generation:

Kerry, Call Russell (Simmons)
(or Why the Democratic Party Can’t Afford to Diss the Hip-Hop Generation)
By Farai Chideya
Web Exclusive (prospect.org): 07.19.04

Hey John,

Lemme break it down for you. It’s not that the NAACP isn’t great. It is. And Bush done made a stupid move. But don’t get too comfortable. You’re preaching to the choir. Black folks -- at least ones from the civil-rights generation -- would walk across broken glass barefoot to vote for a Democrat.

Younger black folks will not. Sure, things are still leaning your way. When younger African Americans vote, they mainly choose the donkey, not the elephant. But you’ve got a problem: The kind of black institutions that you can roll up to and get a standing ovation aren’t reaching younger voters. One article described the 38-year-old vice chairman of the NAACP’s board as “one of the few younger members.”

Younger is a relative term. For example, I am younger than that NAACP vice chairman, but the average African American is younger still. In fact, the average age of black Americans is just 30 -- nine years younger than the average white American, and four years older than the average Latino. Younger people are more likely to call themselves “independents,” and independents are less likely to vote than declared party members.

And you know where those independents have been coming from, right? Yeah, from the ranks of the Democratic Party. Mark Penn, a Democratic pollster, found that only 31 percent of Americans identified themselves as Democrats, down from 49 percent in 1958. "Exciting the Democratic base alone will not bring enough voters into the Democratic fold,” said Penn. I couldn’t agree more. But Penn recommended going after “office-park dads,” the more fiscally conservative husbands of the “soccer moms.” Sounds appealing. They wear suits. They vote. Just not necessarily for you.

On the other hand, 76 million American citizens didn’t vote in 2000. Makes the 537-vote margin in Florida look like chump change, don’t it? These nonvoters were more likely to be young, people of color, and poor or working class than people who went to the polls. And, John, they’re looking for someone -- anyone -- in politics who speaks their language.

I’m talking about language that acknowledges their struggle and seeks to do something concrete, even revolutionary, about it. I’m talking New Deal, Great Society, with a dash of optimism à la “Morning in America.” You probably don’t want to hear that -- it’s not office-park-dad talk. But then again, the millions of missing voters won’t listen to the bland political doublespeak that guys in suits will.

Like voters, nonvoters are a diverse lot. But let me just tell you about one group that could swing the election -- and swing the tide for the Democratic Party.

It’s called the hip-hop generation. As a 34-year-old African American, I’m one of them. If you want to know who’s a member of the hip-hop generation, just try a rhyme-along. Put a landmark rap track on the stereo, anything from “Planet Rock” to “Bring the Noise,” “Ladies First” to “99 Problems.” If the person puffs out his or her chest and starts spitting lyrics, hey, in my opinion, they’re hip-hop generation. If you want to get more technical about it, it’s people born between ’64 and ’84 who identify with the culture and politics of this global juggernaut. We’re talking about folks of all races and backgrounds, millions of Americans.

And they’re being courted, mobilized by the National Hip-Hop Political Convention last month in Newark, New Jersey, rallied to Russell Simmons’ Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, and plugged in to hundreds of grass-roots groups across America.

Now they’re waiting to hear from you. To my knowledge, and correct me if I’m wrong, no one from your campaign or the Democratic Party has made a serious connection to the hip-hop political movement. That’s a mistake, not just for 2004 but for the party’s long-term viability.

Maybe you’re not quite sure how to market to them. Frankly, you’re not even sure how to reach your African American base. The Congressional Black Caucus -- not exactly a bunch of cultural renegades -- thought your new radio and television ads stank. (I believe Congressman Gregory Meeks called them “horrible.”) Now imagine someone used to the quick-cut style of MTV. Watching your 30-second ad could send them into a coma.

The good news is that the hip-hop movement has a cadre of people ready to market voting the same way they can package a platinum album, hitting television media, sending out street teams to hype and poster, putting on concerts and rallies. The energy in hip-hop politics now is raw and exuberant, sexy and urgent, intellectual and fun. But unless participants connect to the rest of the political process, all they’ll be left with is a cheap souvenir T-shirt and the feeling that they’ve been played.

You need hip-hop generation organizers to be the whetstone against which you sharpen your message for November’s duel. They will ask the toughest questions and not take “talking points” for an answer. And, ultimately, you will learn from them, and they from you.

Some have cocked an ear to the Republicans, too. One young political aide told The New York Times, “I have a Frederick Douglass philosophy. I believe African Americans have no permanent friends and no permanent enemies, only permanent interests.”

It’s in your best interest -- and the Democratic Party’s -- to know where these young Americans stand.


Farai Chideya -- the author of the forthcoming book, Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters, and the host of Your Call radio on KALW 91.7 in San Francisco.

Maybe George W Bullshit is on to something here. He knows that the middle won't support him unless he engineers a terraist attack in late October, so no point courting them until his friend Osama has things ready to go. They'd forget by November anyway. Further evidence of this strategy in bringing up the notion of postponing elections, knowing the Dems would object now, thus tying the Dem hands when they have the al-Qaeda attack in motion.

Combine that with the fact his base is made up of diehard fanatics, and if all of them bring a like-"minded" friend to the polls (not that tough when over half the electorate doesn't trouble to vote), then George W Bullshit coasts to an easy victory.

The Bush's went to bed with the Bin Ladens for oil, period. That's why we are at war. Osama didn't want to go in with it and he is pissed off and he wanted revenge and took it out the only way he knew how. If the Bush's would get out of bed with the Bin Lades, Osama would stop. But they can't. They want to be Billionaires, not Millionaires and they would sacrifice their country to do it. They opened up the alaskan pipelines and logging and they will soon own all the land to put wells on it. Its greed i tell you, pure greed. Iraq had nothing to do with this, Bush had to topple Iraq so that the Saudis can finish their pipeline and now the deal is made, alaska will finish this deal. Follow the money. the Bush's have been in bed witht he Saudis for over 12 years now and they can taste the fortune.