December 19, 2006

Frank Luntz Dissects the Election

Frank Luntz has published a report (pdf) of why the Republicans lost and what they can do to win in 2008. (In their dreams.) I found it at times interesting, amusing and bemusing because for someone who is so good at what he does, he has some remarkable blinders.

For one thing, he is convinced that the "true" ideas of the Republicans are still compelling, but that the Party has forgotten that is why they were given power. He does agree that the Republican-controlled 109th Congress earned their own comeuppance because they proved incapable of solving any of America's problems.

The American people asked collectively why so much had gone wrong: immigration, energy, and, of course, the war. The response: silence. That silence was indicative of so many issues – Katrina, Foley, corruption, unaccountability, and wasteful Washington spending – whenever voters had legitimate questions or doubts, there was only posturing and finger pointing.

He believes that the Republicans lost the battle, but not the war, because what happened was the voters who are philosophically Republicans rejected the current batch, but if Republicans start acting like real Republicans, with Republican ideas (small government, low taxes, etc.) then these "Republican Rejecters" as he called them will be streaming back to elect Republicans.

The 2006 Election was decided by a non-traditional type of swing voter. Historically, swing voters are a floating demographic – moderates, centrists, unaffiliated voters who wait until the last minute to decide their preferences. By definition, they are “personality” voters rather than ideological voters – and they have leaned Republican since 1994.

That all changed in 2006. The swing voters, the people who left the GOP and broke for the Democrats this year – 16% of the electorate – came from all demographic subgroups and all across the political spectrum. The Republican Rejecters didn’t like the Democrats. They weren’t comfortable with their negative attacks and had no idea where they stood on key issues. And yet they voted for them anyway. Why?

And then he goes on to tell the Republicans what they did wrong and how they can get these swing voters back. What he sees is these Republican Rejecters are the Republican moderates, and he thinks if Republicans once more act like moderates, they will come back. However, he misses the fact that moderates are likely to be put off by the very Republicans who are left in the Congress. Kevin Drum makes the astute point that since the remaining crew are more rabidly conservative than most Americans, it only will take making sure Americans see who actually controls the Republican Party and how far out of the mainstream they really are to turn off most Americans for a long time.

What bemused me was that Frank Luntz doesn't realize that the real "Republican Party" is exactly what Americans saw and that there is not another Party - a more honest, less corrupt, more concerned about spending tax payer dollars wisely, and more concerned about doing some real work on the average American's problems Party - waiting in the wings.

Because it's pretty damn clear that the Party we saw during the 109th session was the real Party. It is the Abramoff, Tom DeLay, Grover Norquist, Ralph Reed, and Newt Gingrich Party that has sold out the American public to the highest bidder. It is the Party that sees nothing wrong with shredding our constitution and playing footsie with those who want to replace our government with an authoritarian theocracy. It's the Party that let Bush make a total mess of Iraq. It is the Party that is running a war on Science and honest government.

Yet, Luntz, who has done so much to sell this gang to the public thinks there is a "real" Republican Party left even after the ghouls have inhabited the shell that was once a real American party. The problem for Luntz is the people that took over his Party are The Party and there isn't much left to salvage. Luntz who now admits that global warming is really happening (after providing the approach and all those lies that the Republicans used to deny it for so long), seems to have his own problem separating fantasy from reality.

Posted by Mary at December 19, 2006 11:38 PM | Elections | Technorati links |


Abizaid going to resign. obviously Bush is ready to kick a bit more mud around. Like said earlier, I think its a good idea because the current situation isnt convincing. The other point is, with Abizaid resigning, that Bush could have lost his last rationale. Thatd b kinda bad.

Posted by: ccoaler at December 20, 2006 06:56 AM

Spot on Mary. It can't be asserted enough and should be yelled from rooftops with megaphones.

The Republican Party espouses a Criminal Oligarchy bent on a total usurpation of everything the nation ever intended at its founding.

And the Democratic party is guilty by association if it embraces a timid incrementalism to thwart this manifest threat to the nations future.

The watershed rejection of the GOP in the mid term must be seen as the dawning of public awareness of a need to throttle the monstrosity and dismantle it.

It is potentially vulnerable to huge internal contradictions such as a massive loss of confidence in the economy and a consequent crash of the monstrosity by a systemic failure of enthusiasm for blind consumption.

Call it the frog boil analogy. Toss a frog in a boiling water pot and it leaps out, but if the temp is raised slowly, the frog stays put and boils.

The rampant greed feed frenzy is making the frog uneasy about the water temp and a leap away from mindless status spending is a real and potent threat to all the well laid plans of the oligarchs.

Posted by: Chris Rich at December 20, 2006 08:59 AM

Chris - Just as a FYI - The Frog in Boiling Water analogy isn't true - the frog WILL attempt to jump out at some point.

Posted by: Robert at December 20, 2006 09:30 AM

Then there's hope, if frogs have a clue. What will Wall street pundit types do when this beloved analogy bites the dust?

Posted by: Chris Rich at December 20, 2006 09:58 AM

Yes -- but can Democrats succeed in being something like a Party "more honest, less corrupt, more concerned about spending tax payer dollars wisely, and more concerned about doing some real work on the average American's problems"? There's the question?

When Dems are realistic, we have a slightly different notion than moderate Republicans of who "the average American" is (more and more brown, black, and low wage workers) and what the problems are (economic powerlessness and systemic bigotry). Can we find a way to connect our folks with the decent Republicans cast out in the cold by the hijacking of their party without betraying our base?

Posted by: janinsanfran at December 20, 2006 12:20 PM

From my perspective, I see a definite difference between the neo-conservatives who are running the Republican Party today, and the more traditional conservatives who believe in Constitutuional limits. However, many of the issues are not ideological; it's a result of politicians of whatever stripe mainlining on money to get re-elected for the purpose of getting re-elected. The problem won't be solved by artificial imposition of term limits, but it can be solved by voting incumbents out of office when they don't do their job.

Posted by: Ontario Emperor at December 20, 2006 12:28 PM

janinsanfran, I wholeheartedly agree - let's hope the Dems actually to remember there are a lot of people really struggling these days. I have to say the minimum wage bill is not a bad place to start.

Posted by: Mary at December 20, 2006 02:48 PM