The Disgusted Middle Strategy

Elliot Schroeder Elliot Schroeder 2 Comments


Karl Rove engineered George W Bush’s wins by turning out the base. A lot of this was accomplished using “wedge” issues.  This approach became the hallmark of GOP strategy even though candidates like Sen. McCain and Gov. Romney failed to excite the base.  But now we have a candidate, not issues, that have excited the base.  This served Donald Trump well in the primary but it appears that he is not transition from primary candidate to general candidate.    Can turning out the base work again?

If the latest polls are indication, the answer is no.  The strategy failed under McCain and Romney even though they were disliked, but those two attracted some moderates and independents. Trump is not appealing to those groups.  The rhetoric and policies he pushed in the primary energized a passionate part of the GOP  that felt they were forgotten by the GOP establishment. It brought a lot of them that were previously marginalized into the primaries – his biggest wins were open, not closed primaries.  He fed that group to be his winning base in the primary. But he painted himself in a box for the general.  What worked well to win the primary among this group doesn’t sell well to other independents or moderates. If he softens the tone or reaches for that middle, his base will turn on him.   So without the middle to reach for is there a way Hillary can be beaten?

The Democrats have roughly 250 of 270 electoral before they even pick a candidate.  That is a huge hurdle for any Republican.  So the battleground states become key.  The only way for Trump to win is that these battleground states either a) have more Trump supporter (which is doubtful)  of b) the middle gets disgusted and doesn’t show up.

Its a reverse of what Rove tried to overcome. Rove saw that parties lost because the wings were turned off and didn’t show.  In this case, if you couldn’t win over the middle you had turn out your base more than the other side and at least hold your own in the middle. The lesser of two evils strategy won’t do it alone, the middle has to be the ones that are turned off and don’t show. With two candidates with low likability numbers its going to get uglier.



Comments 2

  1. Interesting Elliott. But after looking at the polls and analysis, I came to a different conclusion.

    I concur with Kellyanne Conway, a noted pollster who won the Washington Post’s Crystal Ball Award for the accuracy of her Presidential polling, who says that there is a “big, hidden Trump vote”. She says part of it consists of the 47% previously disengaged voters who have not voted in the Presidential elections for awhile. It also consists of high propensity voters who are disgusted with the establishment Republicans and Democrats. Bob Costa of the Washington Post agrees with this analysis. Full disclosure, Kellyanne has just come on board with the Trump campaign.

    Trump is the man who resonates with these voters. They are Democrat, Republican, and independent voters who haven’t voted for awhile because they’re angry and disgusted with the establishment Republicans and Democrats who ignore what they want.

    Kellyanne cites the Reuters online polls as one example that shows Trump up by 3 points in comparison to the many telephone polls that show Hillary up 8 points. The online poll which approximates the anonymity of the ballot box in her analysis, is much more accurate.

    As you pointed out Elliott, Trump the candidate, excites these previously disengaged voters. Not only that, but Trump’s vote cuts across all party and issues lines. Bernie people, Gays, Hispanics, 2nd Amendment people, blue collar Dems, Republicans, and independents like Trump. The question is, will they show up to actually vote? I believe that they will.

  2. Thanks, Dan. We had a lower GOP turn out in San Diego when Trump was the clear nominee. But that may be because the top of the ticket was settled in the primary. How are the battleground polls looking?

    I can see phone polls being suspicious because I’m tired of doing them. But online polls? Those are easier to spoof because people can vote multiple times over different platforms with different IP addresses. Its one of the reasons why we don’t vote online at home yet.

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