Obama’s Message Doesn’t Match Record

Tuesday, 17 Jul 2012 02:21 PM

By Bradley A. Blakeman

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A U.S. presidential campaign is all about communicating a message that voters can identify with, rely on, and support.

Obama had it much easier in 2008 than he has in 2012. As a candidate in 2008, he had the luxury of beating up on an outgoing president and not having to defend a record of his own.

obama-forward-on-july-16.jpg
Unfortunately, the president's "Forward" messaging doesn't match his record.
(Getty Images)
Today, however, there is no Bush to blame and unlike 2008, today he does have a record as president that he must defend.

The hopeful message that Obama communicated in 2008 is nowhere to be found in 2012. In 2008 the Obama Campaign was all about slogans like “Hope and Change”, “Yes We Can”, etc. Today the best they can come up with is “Forward” and “Betting On America.”

But even the most clever slogans can’t trump a president’s record.

Historically, the two most important polls for an incumbent president are now the most troubling for President Barack Obama:
  • Right Track/Wrong Track: Most Americans today regardless of party affiliation believe that America is headed down the “wrong track.” Rasmussen Reports that 32 percent of Americans believe America is headed in the “right direction” while 62 percent believe it is not.
  • Are You Better Off Today Than You Were 4 Years Ago?: PollingReport.com finds today that 16 percent of Americans say they are better off, while 30 percent say they are not better off. Most of the country — 53 percent, say they are about the same.
The most devastating poll for Obama, however is a new one that reveals he has changed the country for the worse.

According to a poll done by The Hill, 66 percent of likely voters believe that Obama has “fundamentally transformed the United States” and 56 percent of those polled believe that the change has been negative to the country. Only 35 percent of those polled believe that the president’s changes have had a positive impact on the country.

It is clear that the hopeful and inspiring messaging and communications of the Obama 2008 campaign no longer resonate with voters in 2012, largely because President Obama’s record in office fails to match such a message.

So, if you have nothing positive on which to base your campaign, you need to embark on a negative campaign that concentrates on taking down your opponent rather than heralding your accomplishments.

Today the Obama Campaign has embarked on what I consider to be a “3D” strategy of messaging and communications:
  1. Distort: The mission is to distort Mitt Romney’s policies, record as a business leader, governor, Mormon, and savior of the 2002 Winter Olympics. This is meant to force Romney to stay on defense.
  2. Distract: The mission is to distract the public away from Obama’s record and focus instead on their attacks on Romney.
  3. Divide: The mission is to divide the America people, pitting one class against another. Class warfare has always been a staple of Democratic election tactics. It is an “us” against “them” message that does resonate with the base of their party but I believe will have a negative impact on Independent voters.
In order to counter Obama’s “3D” strategy, Gov. Romney should embark ASAP on what I like to call a “3P” strategy:
  1. Policy: There is no substitute for good, sound and understandable policies that voters can identify and support. Economic policies that address joblessness, taxation, and debt are key.
  2. Prosperity: With good policy comes prosperity. The American people must believe that their best days are ahead. Prosperity comes from success — NOT government intrusion. Government should only do for people what people cannot do for themselves.
  3. Patriotism: The American people can solve any problem and overcome any adversity. We are all in this together. Romney must unite America with a hopeful and positive message. He must show that his policies will lead to prosperity and empower everyday Americans rather than dividing them.
In order for Romney to defeat this incumbent president it is not enough to point out the president’s failures. Romney must set forth a hopeful and realistic alternative. Under President Romney’s policies, performance and leadership, America will rebound.

In 2008, the Obama campaign had a very successful messaging and communications strategy whereby most Americans could tell you what Obama stood for. In 2012, not only must Americans know what Romney stands for, they must believe he is the best alternative to the status quo.

Romney’s key to success in 2012 lies in a messaging and communications strategy that is simple, clear, hopeful, believable — one that portrays the former Massachusetts governor as a competent leader capable of returning America to better days.

Bradley A. Blakeman served as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001-04. He is currently a professor of Politics and Public Policy at Georgetown University and a frequent contributor to Fox News Opinion. Read more reports from Bradley Blakeman — Click Here Now.

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