Tags: 2012 President Race | Reagan at 100 | GOP | strategist | David Winston | Boehner | Ronald Reagan

GOP Strategist: Focus on Policies, Not Personalities

By Ronald Kessler   |   Monday, 31 Jan 2011 10:19 AM

The key to Republicans winning elections in the current political climate is to focus on policies rather than personalities, David Winston, a noted pollster and Republican strategist tells Newsmax.

Winston, an adviser to House Speaker John Boehner, says the U.S. is basically a country that leans to the right of the political center. In the last election, voters moved even more to the conservative side. What Republicans need to do is tap into that sentiment by emphasizing conservative policies.

Winston notes that in exit polls, 38 percent of voters said government should do more, while 58 percent said government should do less.

“This is a country that fundamentally believes that the success of this country is based on the private sector,” Winston says. “People see an imbalance that’s really dramatically changed in the last two years, where the public sector plays too large a role in terms of determining what the private sector can do and can’t do, given that that’s where the innovation comes from and how this country moves forward.”

While having a healthy political debate is fine, “There needs to be a sense from the public that you are, in fact, trying to solve the problems and not simply trying to score political points,” Winston says.

“The pressing issue is economic growth and creating jobs,” Winston notes. “So the challenge to Republicans over the next two years is to clearly lay out directions and policies that people believe in and, in fact, would resolve those problems.”

Pointing to President Reagan’s success as a candidate, Winston says, “When we are arguing issues, Republicans do well. When we get involved in personalities, that throws away the strategic advantage that the Republicans have with the country being where it’s at right now. So what candidates need to do is engage in ways that emphasize the direction that we want to go in, which is very much a Ronald Reagan approach.”

In the same vein, the successful Republican candidate for president in 2012 will be someone who makes a convincing case on the issues and who has the best ideas for solving problems.

“My sense is you are going to see Republicans looking for something slightly different this time, and that is because of the concern about the economy and where we are in terms of jobs,” Winston says.

“This is not going to be as much about personality. It’s going o be about the individual candidates’ policies. That will provide for a much more engaging primary process. It will also set up whoever wins to be able to then pivot out of that in terms of running in the general election.”

While Americans like President Barack Obama on a personal level, they don’t like his policies, as underscored by the last election.

“In the 2010 election, when offered the Republican pledge, as much as they may personally like President Obama, the fact is he lost over 60 seats in Congress,” Winston says.

“That's the largest loss of seats by political parties since the late 1940s. So what does that mean? It means they like him, but they are not going to vote for him.”

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via e-mail. Go here now.

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