Tags: Democrats | Losing | Battle | for | 'Warm | Fuzzies'

Democrats Losing Battle for 'Warm Fuzzies'

Tuesday, 03 June 2003 12:00 AM

The latest memo from "Democracy Corps," the organization led by Carville, Stan Greenburg and Bob Shrum, acknowledges that the "perception of success and strong leadership is helping the Republicans." Yet in the very same sentence, the memo states that there has been "no shift to the Republicans, even at the high point of the President's popularity."

Who are these guys kidding? Perhaps the number of people identifying themselves as Republicans has not changed, but that point is irrelevant. The only political point worth anything is how public perception translates into election results.

One need only look back as far as the 2002 elections to see that regardless of whether people identify themselves as Republican, Democrat, Independent or something else, the "perception of strong leadership" translated into unanticipated victories for Republicans.

Remember when Democrats thought they might win the House? As the elections drew closer, that talk died down and was replaced by sentiments such as "We might not pick up the House, but we'll definitely keep the Senate."

Strong leadership has coattails, and those coattails helped deliver the whole of national government to the Republicans in 2002. Now Carville is saying that the "perception of strong leadership" doesn't matter? I hope he keeps peddling this notion to his clients.

The two big issues facing America as we head into the 2004 election cycle are the economy and homeland security. The economy is growing, yet it is not growing as robustly as we would like or expect. In a post-9/11 country, no candidate will get elected to federal office if he or she is perceived to be weak on homeland security.

Yet the numbers in Carville's own report show that the Democrats have their backs up against a wall. In comparing Republicans and Democrats on which party does a "better job" on the issues, Democracy Corps ranks Democrats ahead of Republicans on the economy by 45 percent to 39 percent. On the issue of taxes, Democracy Corps shows Republicans leading by 47 percent to 37 percent.

As Bush's tax cuts and economic stimulus plan take hold and the economy grows at a healthy rate, that thin 6-point lead for the Democrats on the economy will likely disappear.

On the homeland security and defense side of the equation, the numbers presented by Carville show what the Democrats are really up against. On the issue of "keeping America strong," Republicans lead the Democrats by 57 percent to 24 percent. On the issue of "homeland security," the difference is 57 percent 17 percent for the Republicans.

Even another attack on American soil is not enough to change the numbers in favor of the Democrats, for in addition to the actual attack, the Democrats would have to show that somehow they could have prevented it.

Carville claims that Democrats are leading on the issues of Social Security and education, but these are not likely to be the major issues of 2004. In his "attempt" to rally Democrats, Carville also points out that the Democrats trail badly on "party image," and he concedes that this will "ultimately impact whether people give the Democrats the chance to lead and govern."

One has to wonder if this is a strategy memo or an obituary. The memo even states that Democrats lag Republicans by 8 percentage points in the category of "warm/favorable feelings." I would love to see the look on the average Democrat's face when told that the Republicans are even leading in the "warm fuzzies" category!

The Democracy Corps memo concludes by saying that the country is ready for "a new direction in foreign policy – not a policy of weakness but a Democratic alternative that actually can make America stronger." If the Carville team honestly believes that Americans can be sold on the idea that foreign policy would be stronger under Democrat leadership, then I am left shaking my head in amazement.

But hopefully, the Democrats will take Carville's words to heart and build their campaigns around the theme "Democrats are stronger on Homeland Security and Foreign Policy." If they do, we'll be comparing the 2004 presidential election with the one from 1984.

Mr. Eberle may be reached at

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The latest memo from "Democracy Corps," the organization led by Carville, Stan Greenburg and Bob Shrum, acknowledges that the "perception of success and strong leadership is helping the Republicans." Yet in the very same sentence, the memo states that there has been "no...
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Tuesday, 03 June 2003 12:00 AM
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