My Story is Better than Your Issues

The Politico has front-paged a story that illustrates just how stupid John McCain and Sara Palin think we are. In McCain, Palin push biography, not issues we learn of the McCain campaign’s brazen strategy of “aiming for the gut, not the heads, of voters.”

This can be a good strategy for a campaign that is suffering from “brand fatigue”. Republicans across the country are running from their damaged brand like rats from a fire, and it’s working to some extent. Oregon Senator, Gordon Smith has endorsed Obama in the Presidential race, despite being a Republican. Unlike Democratic turncoat, Joe Lieberman, Smith has enjoyed little pressure to change his endorsement. In the world of the Republican Party, they’d rather win than be right.

McCain intends to win by appealing to voter’s emotions rather than their minds. McCain hopes to extend the courtship long enough to get their name on the marriage license. That’ll be a big task, 56 days can seem like an eternity in campaigns…the past 18 months sure have! The key for McCain is to keep that good feeling going until the first debate on the 26th. If he can keep the emotional momentum going and pepper in some facts for flavor, that’s a tough combination to beat. On the other hand, the McCain campaign has the message discipline of a rambunctious puppy. You can only stay at Disney World so long before your feet hurt and your wallet is empty. They’ll find a way to muck it up, probably by pushing it too long.

Obama, on the other hand, needs to keep hammering the issues home, just like he’s doing now. Issues, unlike puppy love, don’t go away until they’re solved. If people get tired of hearing about one issue, give ‘em another! Still, this doesn’t change the fact that people make more decisions with their gut than their heads. So the task is to personalize issues, bring them home. Obama is doing this in smaller, less visible settings, where he can address actual questions from actual voters if he wishes. Obama is on task, hitting back when he needs to, and keeping on message with the voters, despite the “chickenlittling” of some in the blogoshpere.

The polls and the media will eventually equalize. National tracking polls are nothing more than distractions from reality. It’s the state-by-state polls that matter. The media is getting annoyed with the sequestering of Sara, the honeymoon will soon be over. (h/t Paul Anderson at DailyKos)

McCain is trying to double down by introducing Palin again to the American people with a Charlie Gibson interview later this week. How that plays out will be interesting to watch, but I’ve got my money on a bunch of leading questions that ultimately tell us nothing. Gibson was no doubt chosen because he’s already in the bag. One need only remember the loaded questions and tabloid style from the Democratic debate in the spring to come to that conclusion. Reports are saying nothing’s off the table…of course we won’t know what’s ON the table until the interviews hit the airwaves.

If Gibson actually questions Palin on anything even mildly controversial or substantive, expect that liberal media line of attack to come back big time which will ignite the base, but alienate many of the people who are just now getting involved in the race and want some answers. If he doesn’t, the McCain camp will call this a fair interview, and it will become the standard across the media. Crossing the imaginary threshold will result in loud protests from the McCain camp. Considering the spinelessness of some of the networks, I doubt any threshold, real or imaginary will be crossed.

The media’s handling of the campaign going forward represents the greatest challenge facing the Obama campaign. Obama’s strategy is sound, but apparently, didn’t take into account a rehashing of old worn out talking points like the mythical “liberal media”. If the media stays on the sidelines, it will fall to the ground game and other messaging devices to debunk the false messaging of the McCain campaign.

It’ll be interesting to see what shakes out.

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