Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Targeting Obama's greatest weaknesses with swing voters

Karl Rove's American Crossroads has done some careful research into what kind of criticism of President Obama resonates most with swing voters. After showing various attack ads to focus groups, they rejected the more personal attacks on Obama. Instead they're targeting parents' concerns about their children's ability to find jobs while they're being loaded up with the debts that Obama's policies have incurred.
As the NYT writes, the purpose of the ad is to target those voters who supported Obama in 2008, but are disappointed in his performance.
But Republicans acknowledge that they have always faced a more complicated target in Mr. Obama, whose candidacy four years ago struck a deep emotional chord with many Americans.

That is why the Crossroads ad features a heavy repetition of the word “change.” Many participants in the focus groups cited the Obama mantra of hope and change as a reason they supported him in 2008, but they said they now felt let down.

“Criticizing President Obama is a challenging proposition in terms of ads because a lot of your swing voters this year voted for him in 2008,” Mr. McCarthy said. “They genuinely liked him, they thought he had the right message, they thought he was different.”
This is the exactly right message to take in political advertising. Those who dislike Obama because of his radical connections are already opposed to him. The election will be won among those swing voters who will have to be persuaded to vote against someone they supported four years ago. And that persuasion must be built on the record that Obama has made since 2008. This is a target-rich environment since so much of what Obama has done has been a failure and, as many economists acknowledge, is retarding the economy's recovery.

Expect more of these 'sadder, but wiser' portrayals of the Obama presidency and ordinary people's worries.