- Don’t believe current polling. Yes, Biden is ahead. But so was Hilary. A poll in June means nothing – it’s NOT November. Democrats can not take anything for granted. Democrats can’t get cocky, or arrogant. Trump is a fierce competitor with very committed followers – who fly Trump flags in their front gardens and drive around with Trump stickers on their cars. They will vote. They are energized. Meanwhile, despite the polls, more than 20 million people that supported Hilary simply didn’t show up to vote – including over half of the ‘eligible’ to vote African American community. This election is about what happens in November, nothing else. Don’t believe of accept the current poling.
- Democrats can’t become Complacent and Arrogant. People simply don’t understand that there is a huge difference between the electoral college and popular vote. Remember Hilary won the popular vote but lost the election. The way some states are rigged, Biden needs to be 11 points ahead of Trump, to just break even with Trump in the electoral college. Winning the polls, winning the popular vote is NOT enough. Democrats can’t get cocky or arrogant. The system is rigged against Democrats.
- Democrats must understand that Black Lives Matter alienated some Voters. The race issue is explosive. Trump supporters fully understand that while Black Lives Matter has energized some folks, it has equally alienated many crucial moderate voters. More importantly, Trump supporters infiltrated demonstrations and spurred property damage. There are videos of ‘white’, ‘masked’ demonstrators showing up with hammers and people dumping bricks near demonstration sites downtown. The violence and property damage alienated many moderate voters. Its clear that the race issue can be used against Democrats. And the election can not be won if moderate voters don’t shift away from Trump. There is a fine line between energizing minority communities to vote (which is crucial) without alienating moderate voters. Note that the Democratic vote depends critically on building a coalition of voters across many ethnicities. Some ethnicities like Chinese Americans, Hispanic-Americans for example are secretly highly racist. Its simply hubris to think that Black-lives-Matter will lead to a surge in voting for Democrats. The key message must be that EVERYONE’s dignity will be protected by Democrats, and that while Republicans are divisive, Democrats have a unifying message of inclusion and opportunity. Its NOT about one group getting more than others, its about a fair landscape for everyone. Overly focusing on one group can be counterproductive.
- Democrats must realize the political landscape is dynamic and the ground shifts constantly. Election will be fought on the issues of the moment, not even this year, not even last year… the moment! Must maintain, a sharp, rapid-response, communication campaign. One news cycle is enough to completely shift the political landscape. Voters are fickle. Especially moderate voters. One ‘meaningful, impactful and explosive’ tweet from Trump could shift the landscape dramatically. And he tweets so much, that its only a matter of time that one tweet will have a big impact. The election will be fought on the issues of the moment. Voters have short memories. Its not that voters have forgiven Trump and his gang for spilling Hilary’s emails from Wikileaks via Russian hackers – its clear he cheated (there is no doubt), but they have forgiven that it ever happened, and Trump’s team keep changing the narrative saying the FBI was corrupt (making their findings less meaningful). Its very effective. So all they have to do, is create a very effective narrative ON THE DAY, and enough voters will swing to their side. Think about the math for one second. He has an entrenched support base which is roughly 35% of the voting public. He only needs to sway about 1 in 10 voters (10%) to win the electoral college (and only in a few key states like Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan). 5 states – 10%!! If he finds a hot button, issue on the day – Biden will lose. It can be an African-American brutally raping a beautiful white woman at the end of October in Milwaukee or Pittsburgh – right? Or the possibility of a war or even a minor skirmish with Iran? He can simply engineer an issue of the moment. And if you don’t think he will – you are badly mistaken. He is shrewd, ruthless and morally bankrupt. The political landscape is dynamic, and people have short memories. They won’t even care about his incompetence dealing with COVID19 in March, because it will be November.
- Democrats must realize that the whole media landscape – itself – is constantly shifting. It’s not only the message, but also the vehicle that is employed. Trump adopted Twitter very effectively. But social media apps constantly change, and people start engaging new media very readily. Its not about, the specific political landscape, its about communicating a response, managing the messaging. The problem is, even if you think you have a response – you don’t! Because you aren’t communicating where people are watching, listening, reading or absorbing new information. Six Media conglomerates control the information diet of Americans – this by the way includes the internet. Americans, however, keep shifting where they get their information from. New website, new forums, new programing keeps coming up (before one of these media conglomerates buys them). So, it’s crucial that Democrats – every Democrat – remains in tune with the media landscape and participates on comment platforms and posts on new media platforms. Trump completely undermined Hilary with his tweets in 2015. Hilary’s campaign completely miscalculated the impact of Trump’s 25 million twitter followers. On the other hand, who ever heard of TikTok 5 years ago? Yet, TikTok was uniquely able to completely undermine Trump’s Tulsa event. This is how it works. You snooze, you lose. And being cocky and arrogant will lead to hubris. The media landscape changes quickly.
- It’s not only the message (bullet 4) and the media (bullet 5) but there must be a fundamental realization that even media habits have dramatically changed – because of the corona (COVID19) virus. There has been a 60% plus increase in internet engagement. This means that not only social media sites, but other sites (blogs, etc.) are becoming massively influential. The strategy must go beyond, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc. The problem – the critical issue – is that because of people staying at home, they completely changed their media use habits. 5 years ago, we had multiple ‘politically influential’ movies in movie theaters in widescale distribution. Today, movie theaters are closed. Radio audiences have declined dramatically because people are not driving as much (making Rush Limbaugh’s impact impotent). People are spending more time on the internet. New information is being dissipated via cell phones – not even computers, via new blogs, new YouTube videos. Its not simply new media platforms, but people’s media habits have shifted. So political messaging must be ‘designed’ for the format that audiences are employing to engage their information diet.
- Democrats must be careful not to offend Trump voters and his base (you need them) – i.e. be divisive (avoid further polarization at all costs). One more time, think about the math. Winning is about drawing folks in the center to vote for you. Winning in November will be about ‘unifying’ the country. Trump’s whole message is divisive. He believes that he can conquer by dividing the country up and energizing his base with his divisive message. In a low turnout election, a highly focused, well-tailored message to white, middle class voters ‘America’s largest minority’ can provide a winning strategy – because even if they are a minority, the messaging can be very energizing and lead to winning elections. Remember, again, he did not win the popular vote, but won the electoral college. While White voters are a minority nationally, they are a majority in important voting states. The key is to get Trump’s base voters to defect.
- Democrats must appreciate that to win, you MUST put together a coalition – i.e. it’s about unification. To win, Democrats need to bring together a coalition of other ‘smaller’ minorities – this is much harder. One message (like Black-lives- matter) might win over one key group, but then alienate others. In effect, Democrats must make Trump’s election strategy targeted at the backfire – demographically. Alienating any major group will be counterproductive. Democrats cannot get into heated debates, and polarizing arguments. Winning in November must be about praising everyone’s patriotism, and explaining that inclusion, unification, working together is in America’s best interests – not polarization, hatred, walls, and division. Its about unification – stupid!
- Democrats must not take some voters (and some states) for granted – it MUST be a 50-state campaign. Hilary’s biggest mistake against Trump was not campaigning in key states like Michigan and Wisconsin. Whoever ran her campaign, they seriously screwed up by taking some states for granted. If the ‘President’ doesn’t take some people seriously or make them feel important, they will vote for the candidate that does. For most people, voting is an emotional process – not a fact driven calculation. If you alienate some people, by simply not campaigning, you can bet your opponent will let them know … and you will lose. Its hard work, but its important. If the underlying message is about ‘unification’, then the hard work to touch as many people and groups as possible must simply be done.
- Winning will be about who shows up. Democrats MUST understand that a fundamental Republican strategy, for the past 40 years, has been voter disenfranchisement. So, at the end of the day, the focus – everywhere – must be to find ways around every single Republican party tactic, and thus it’s about getting out the vote on the day or before with mail-in ballots. On the day, the only thing that will matter is who shows up to vote. Nothing else. You can have great polling, a honed, effective message and messaging system, work incredibly hard, but – if people don’t vote – it’s over. You can bet Trump’s minions will show up – they remain, angry, motivated, and driven by his brand of politics. His strategists for decades have employed every single weapon in their arsenal to disenfranchise voters. They have shut down voting stations, they have changed laws, undertaken mass arrests in key voting regions and incarcerated literally millions of Americans in order to keep people out of the voting booths, they have created Voter ID laws, they have Gerrymandered districts … bottom line, winning is about working now to get people registered, and getting people to vote whether its by absentee voting (mailing in), or going to the stations to vote. Democrats MUST make a fundamental effort to increase voter rolls and make voting important. This requires work now. So, Democrats should not be on a beach, or a bar … relaxing, but must be knocking on doors, sitting at shopping centers – helping people register. It will be an act of hubris to be lazy and not mount massive voter registration and mail-in campaigns. Democrats must not just win the popular vote but have a plan for a complete knock out by simply getting people to vote. The system is rigged against free and fair elections and the Democrats. It’s about voting.
Trump, yesterday, on Fox news said the next President will be Joe Biden. His Tulsa rally was a bust. This might make Democrats confident and arrogant. That is precisely what he wants. Because he knows, that if he can make Democrats believe they have the election in the bag, they simply won’t do the work to win in November. Hubris is the Democratic party’s biggest enemy. Again, it’s not about the popular vote, its about a complete knock out. Biden must win by a double-digit margin to even have a chance to win – because the system is rigged against Democrats. And the ONLY way to fix it, is to win big and pass laws to protect our democracy from these election bandits. They are ruthless crooks with no morals. There is nothing they won’t do to win. We can not let that happen.
Let’s do it.