I posted this just before the Scott Brown election. It’s a post about how ineffective the “It’s all Bush’s fault” ads have become. Now there is more evidence.
In the end, attacks only work if they are believable. This is especially true when voters are angry about “real things” like the economy, the deficit and health care. As such, for Democrats to go after Chris Christie’s spotty driving record in New Jersey, or Bob McDonnell’s graduate thesis in Virginia, or Brown’s record on emergency contraception for rape victims not only seemed out of context, but also woefully out of touch with the issues that were really driving the vote.
In a blog post last night, Brown’s pollster, Neil Newhouse, wrote that “one of the lessons Democrats are taking away from this race is that they need to go negative against Republican challengers earlier in the campaign. Be advised that this race turned and turned fast, following the debate on January 11th when the Coakley campaign launched their negative advertising. Within days her image was almost inverted and her ‘information flow’ was a net negative. Being perceived as the negative campaigner moved key groups against Martha that she could never win back. ”
This helps explains how independent voters, who supported Barack Obama in all three states in 2008, broke so sharply against the Democratic candidate in 2009-2010. Christie carried 60 percent and McDonnell 66 percent. There were no exit polls in Massachusetts, but public and private polls showed Brown winning independent voters by similar margins.
Like that willl work…
Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), speaking with a gaggle of reporters after the event, said that while state Sen. Scott Brown (R) offers voters a quick fix, in reality, the problems created by “George Bush and his cronies” are not so easily solved.
More Kennedy: “One thing the Democrats have done wrong? We haven’t kept the focus on this disaster on the Republicans who brought it upon us. We’ve tried too hard to do that right thing, and that’s to fix it, as opposed to spend more of our time and energy pointing the finger at who got us [here] in the first place.”
Blaming their problems on Bush does carry a risk for Dems, however — with their sights so firmly focused on the past, Brown’s campaign has managed to wrest the “change” mantle from them.
Here is why that won’t work. Whatever Bush did to the economy, the Dems had a huge hand in as well.
Fannie and Freddie? Talk to criminal bribe-takers Dodd and Frank.
Banks run amok? Talk to Schumer and Dodd about doing what Goldman Sacks told them to do.
Deficits? Talk to every congressman and senator lying about Medicare and Social Security for decades.
Blame Bush? No. Blame everybody. If you have a choice between a newcomer and someone from the incumbent system, vote for the newcomer. Toss the party in power out.
BTW, Illinoisans, the “Blago fright wig” won’t work either. If you aren’t running on dramatic spending cuts, you aren’t serious about reform.