Sunday, August 24, 2008

The McCain Strategy: Divide and Conquer

Many on our side of the blogosphere, this Clintonista included, have expressed some concerns as the polls have tightened over the last few weeks. In an analysis of polling data released on Friday, Gallup argued that the most important factor in the tight polling is weak support for Obama among Democrats.

During this election cycle, in part because of the excitement over the historic Democratic primary and in part because of President Bush's unpopularity, more voters are identifying themselves as Democrats than Republicans, giving Democrats a 7 point advantage nationwide.

If independents are asked toward which party they lean, the lead expands to nine points.

Why isn't the lead in party identification translating into a larger lead in the polls? Because the Democratic party is divided. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released last week gave Senator Obama a statistically non-significant 3 point lead, down from six points a month earlier. The reason, according to the pollster, is the Clinton Democrats.

Yet perhaps the biggest factor keeping the presidential race close has been Obama’s inability to close the deal with some of Hillary Clinton’s supporters. According to the poll, 52 percent of them say they will vote for Obama, but 21 percent are backing McCain, with an additional 27 percent who are undecided or want to vote for someone else.

What’s more, those who backed Clinton in the primaries — but aren’t supporting Obama right now — tend to view McCain in a better light than Obama and have more confidence in McCain’s ability to be commander-in-chief.

Senator McCain, who cannot run a campaign based on his ideas of continuing the policies of George Bush, is trying to exploit the lingering wounds of a tough primary battle by running ads like this, release yesterday:

In this election, the Democrats have the power to decide who wins. The only way that McCain wins this race is if we allow his strategy of divide and conquer to succeed.

What can we do? The most important factor is that we stop fighting the primary wars. The primaries ended more than a month ago. Barack is over it. Hillary is over it. And we need to get over it, too. When a troll comes around trying to ignite a fight over snipergate or bittergate or Hillary said this or Barack said this, ignore it. Don't get sucked in. You may have very good reasons for hating Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama but expressing them now only advances what has become John McCain's only strategy for winning the White House: Divide the Democratic Party.

The power is your hands. Think about it.


David Gerard said...

Latest poll shows we have to all keep watching the media. Take everything you read with a grain of salt.

Anonymous said...

The media suck. In Denver, they'll be looking to exploit each and every crack in party unity that they can find.

chrisblask said...

It's Psychological Operations 101, and it works.

The trick is to play on tendencies that are near the surface and enhance them, just like you cannot hypnotize someone and get them to kill their best friend but you can get them to do something they would almost have considered doing anyway.

I'm not even going to use the Democratic Primaries as an example of how this works - because that is the prime purpose of the GOP PsyOps, to get us having these conversations - but rather the GOP primaries:

[quote]*Mormons Dismissed by McCain and the GOP*

"The McCain camp has again chosen to ignore the needs of the Mormon community by failing to reach out to the supporters of Mitt Romney. Mormons throughout American history have been persecuted by the established powers of the government. The Governor of Missouri issued the infamous "Extermination Order" in the 1800s in which he declared *"the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State"*, resulting in the slaughter by US soldiers of Mormon men and young boys. Even in withdrawing to Utah under the leadership of Brigham Young to seek refuge the Mormons were hunted by the established powers in Washington. Despite this relentless persecution, the generosity of the Mormon people continued to be demonstrated again and again, including the selfless action of bringing food to the very soldiers who were sent to kill them as they lay trapped and freezing at Guardsmen's Pass.

"Washington is again duping the gentle Mormon people of this country, assuming they will meekly follow John McCain and cast their votes for him despite the vile lies used against one of their own leaders during the Republican primaries. Has John McCain and the Republican party even acknowledged the concerns of the Mormon population? Has he done anything to earn the votes of the patriotic Americans, or does he like all past Republican politicians assume they will blindly continue to give him their votes?

"Mitt Romney is a dedicated father, a loyal American and a faithful representative of the Mormon people and their way of life. His treatment at the hands of the party that so blithely takes the support of these hardworking people should not be forgotten come November."[/quote]

This narrative is not being pushed in the media, but if it was I would expect to be able to find plenty of conversations among my Mormon friends. It taps an underlying discontent, and any efforts by McCain to reach out to the Mormon population would be less effective and easily questioned as being cynical, opportunistic and lacking.

Sound familiar?

-chris blaskw

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