Final Instructions

Before I commence the main portion of this article, I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate the BBC on a century of broadcasting as of tomorrow. The BBC is a resource I use, but not often enough. It is arguably the world’s most widely utilized and trusted news source. Congratulations on a job well done; the thinking world thanks you!

I feel a bit like I’m back in my coaching days when you gave your team “final instructions”. Most Americans really don’t give voting a serious thought until after Labor Day which means – sticking with my sports metaphor – that we are now well into the second half. I’m definitely on Team Democrats so my instructions/advise is to their candidates. I concentrate on “higher offices” so I’m speaking primarily to those candidates.

The first thing you want to do is go on offense; then you want to stay there. Your opponent is flawed, most likely fatally flawed. When you are on defense you allow your opponent to dictate the dialog and that seldom yields a victory.

Link your opponent to Trump and attack them on that. Many Democratic candidates will tell me that Trump is popular in their district so they are afraid to attack him. Here are the electoral facts of life. Both parties have their base super voters who will show up for them in almost any event. Motivate yours and forget about the other side. The dwindled Trump base will not vote for you regardless of circumstances or situations. Want proof? Look no further than the Georgia Senate race. Hershel Walker might end up losing but he is going to get a ton of votes and all the Trumpers.

Trump is increasingly unpopular especially with the avalanche of bad news surrounding him that shows no sign of abatement between now and Election Day. Exploit that! You are not getting the hardcore Trumpers but they only constitute 30% of the electorate at best. Do not waste your resources (of which time is the most precious) on them!

Focus on your motivateables and the persuadables, in that order. While somewhat similar these are two distinct groups. If your campaign has done a good job to this point, they should have identified people who are leaning your way. Juxtapose that with turnout records and you can tell who your people that might sit it out are. Contact them, repeatedly and by various methods (door knocking being the best) to motivate them to show up.

Political operatives overestimate the true independent vote (as do voters themselves). That said, there is a small percentage of true swing voters who will listen and can be convinced to vote for you. This takes a lot more work but in a close election – and there will be many this year – they can make the difference between victory and defeat. Keep an eye peeled for them in every campaign appearance you make.

Link the Republicans to the issue of choice. In most cases this will be easy. Sadly, this is still a much larger issue with women than men and promises to be in 2022. Democrats have historically won the women’s vote. But they narrowly lose the sub demographic of white women. The Dobbs decision – which is more widely recognized as the overturning of Roe – has angered many white women who have previously quietly voted Republican. If all other factors remain the same on net and Democrats can turn the white women’s vote around, they win; it is almost that simple.

This next one is a bit trickier. While I might not necessarily bring it up in a debate don’t run away from the economy especially in a speech. The Democrats both historically and recently have a vastly superior record on the economy as it relates to Joe and Jane Lunchbucket. Have your examples ready and use them. You only need three at most, Americans have a very short political attention span. Know your district and only use Joe Biden’s name if he is popular there. I’m not asking you to lie; just be smart about how you tell the truth – Joe isn’t on the ballot, you are.

The final attack point I’ll give you is another the Republicans have twisted for so long that like their legend of being better on the economy they actually have a lot of voters believing it. That is law and order. It’s really simple: how can you reconcile backing the blue with January 6th? Unless you are dealing with a racist – the Republicans have successfully been using law an order as a dog whistle for decades including with many members of law enforcement – you will win this one. If you are dealing with a racist you aren’t getting their vote anyway so move on. A huge part of a successful campaign is the productive use of time.

If you engage in debate or whataboutism, you are at a disadvantage simply because it takes more time to refute a lie than to tell one. Don’t waste your time engaging with a voter you can’t get the vote of.

Attack, attack, attack and then attack some more! There is a simple reason you see and hear so many negative ads during campaign season – they work!

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