Suicide By Consultant

The debate launched by our report “Building a Winning Coalition: Lesson from 2012” continues. Ramesh Ponnuru takes us to task for even imagining inflation is an issue, or that monetary reform could be a voting issue.

I am writing to you from the Tyson’s Corner Ritz Carlton.  Frank Cannon is on the panel making the case the social issues are an important part of a winning GOP coalition.
I spent the morning listening to folks say things like “we should be pro-life, but talk about it better, or preferably less.”

The belief that social issues are hurting us politically remains a fixed faith, hard to shake among the consulting and donor class, but is it grounded in hard political fact?  Or are we committing suicide by consultant?

New evidence was just posted in a piece by Adam Schaefer and Nancy Smith in Campaigns and Elections website. What could Cuccinelli have done to gain 55,000 extra voters to put himself over the top? Tell them about McAulliffe’s abortion extremism:

“Evolving Strategies and the Middle Resolution PAC conducted experimental research that suggests an aggressive attack on McAuliffe for supporting ObamaCare was ineffective at best and counter-productive at worst. An attack on McAuliffe’s business record possibly helped, but was anemic.

What moved the voters most was an attack on McAuliffe’s positions on abortion; a single phone message emphasizing McAuliffe’s support for unrestricted, late-term, and taxpayer-funded abortions shifted support a net 13 to 15 points away from McAuliffe and toward Cuccinelli. The cost per vote here was a remarkably cheap $0.50 per additional vote, and even less expensive still when targeting the most persuadable segment of the electorate.”

I have argued that the RNC and the RGA sabotaged Cuccinelli’s election by underfunding him, relative to past elections and relative to the importance of the race.  But if this experimental data is correct, then an extra $27,000 spent on prolife messages could have put Ken over the top.

Schaefer and Smith are not making a moral argument here about conservative principles. They are arguing for using data-driven election strategies.

Because they point out, “A topic declared radioactive by nearly everyone, locked away in secure storage behind a blazing Hazmat warning by the Cuccinelli campaign, appears to have been a powerful weapon for the Republican ticket that could have substantially closed the gap, and possibly even won Cuccinelli the election.”

 

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