Election Analysis--DEM Strategy--Same Thing, Different Results--posted by Tony Garcia on 11/16/2006
This election provided the Democrats an advantage for their repeated tune of "here is a problem, we have no solutions, but at least we did not create the problem." They had two major themes which they have continued since 2000. First, "we are better than the other guys" and the other is "we will fix the problems; we will have a plan if we win." The Democrats have used these themes for years and have justifiably been heavily criticized for them. They should come as no surprise, however, because these are the same themes that are used at the local level and succeed. "Pass this levy and then we will figure out what we will spend it on."
The phrase "Perfect Storm" was used frequently by a few people prior to the election. A great example of that in hindsight is the set of circumstances that allowed the Democrat themes to finally seem to the public as the best option.
This may sound like a repeat from the GOP strategy. That is only because I talked about it before the Democrats. The reality is the Democrats have been using it for many election cycles and the Republicans this cycle recognized they had nothing else to run with.
Issues beat this philosophy easily, but in 2006 neither party really offered issues. The Democrats "Iraq sucks" and "Bush sucks" mantras really were not issues as much as the 1st step in the "We're better than the other guy" platform. Step two was "the other guy is too closely tied to Bush" and therefore the "other guys" sucks also. So this strategy generally cannot succeed.
That is, unless the party in power avoids issues as well. That was the case in 2006. When faced with two people saying "we may be bad but they are worse" the logical choice is to revert to the record of the incumbent and see if the record is worthy of reward.
In 2006 there were Republicans saying, "we're bad, but they are worse" and trying to avoid their record. Then there were the Democrats saying, "we may be bad, but they are worse and they have the record to prove it." Really this choice is a no-brainer and winner is only a winner by default. After all, how can you call a losing strategy a "winner" when it is matched against the same losing strategy?
The Democrat strategy for 2006 was essentially a hybrid of the GOP 2006 strategy and a replication of their strategy since 2000. Fortunately for the Democrats this year their campaigns devoid of details were pitted against a Republican theme also devoid of details. The reason in the past this strategy failed was the Republicans had plans and details of their solutions. The person with the solutions gets the ear of people before the person with just the complaints.
But in 2006 both sides were pointing out the problems and neither side had solutions. This shifts the advantage to the challengers. It is logical. How can the person in power claim to have problems, offer no solutions, have performed no solutions and expect to be returned to power?
Change was the resonating theme. Conservatives wanted change from the status quo, fixed nothing Republicans. Liberals wanted change from the renegade cowboys of evil conservativism. So strongly did this message resonate that some conservatives decided it was easier to fight Democrats head on was better than trying to point out the Republicans trying to earn liberal credentials, proving the case and then fight them.
Corruption? A sub-theme supporting "change". Iraq? A sub-theme for "change". Change was the driving force behind the 2006 elections and it was obvious since 2005. All across the spectrum people wanted change. This is why the Democrats were able to get away with having no plans for change, just the clarion call for change.
Coming next: Results--Nationally