Carville, Greenberg to Obama: Talk More about the Next Four Years
(WASHINGTON) -- Democratic strategists James Carville and Stan Greenberg have a message for the Obama campaign: Stop trying to convince voters that the last four years have been good for them, and start talking about what you are going to do in the next four years to make the economy and their lives better.
In a memo for the think-tank Democracy Corps, Carville and Greenberg write: “We will face an impossible headwind in November if we do not move to a new narrative, one that contextualizes the recovery but, more importantly, focuses on what we will do to make a better future for the middle class.”
Carville and Greenberg were both members of the 1992 Bill Clinton presidential campaign that made the phrases “war room” and “it’s the economy stupid” famous.
In focus groups of Pennsylvania and Ohio voters, the Democracy Corps found an American public that is struggling to pay for everyday items and racking up student debt. Regardless of their education or economic status, these folks haven’t seen signs of an economy recovery – and don’t expect to see one anytime soon.
“These voters are not convinced that we are headed in the right direction. They are living in a new economy – and there is no conceivable recovery in the year ahead that will change the view of the new state of the country.”
Even so, write the authors, these voters don’t know all that much about Mitt Romney. And, what they do know about him isn’t all that positive.
“Respondents immediately volunteer that Romney is rich, out of touch, and in the pocket for Wall Street and big finance.”
Carville and Greenberg say Obama shouldn’t try and beat Romney on the “are you better off than you were four years ago” argument. Instead, they should try to beat him at the “how are you going to make things better over the next four years.”
“It is elites who are creating a conventional wisdom that an incumbent president must run on his economic performance – and therefore must convince voters that things are moving in the right direction. They are wrong, and that will fail. The voters are very sophisticated about the character of the economy; they know who is mainly responsible for what went wrong and they are hungry to hear the president talk about the future. ”
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