Posts Tagged ‘campaign strategy’

The actions in the Republican Party’s campaign is now all about positioning for 2012:

With 10 days until Election Day, long-brewing tensions between GOP vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin and key aides to Sen. John McCain have become so intense, they are spilling out in public, sources say.

McCain sources say Palin has gone off-message several times, and they privately wonder whether the incidents were deliberate. They cited an instance in which she labeled robocalls — recorded messages often used to attack a candidate’s opponent — “irritating” even as the campaign defended their use. Also, they pointed to her telling reporters she disagreed with the campaign’s decision to pull out of Michigan.

It can’t be easy to be part of a political campaign in its death throes – you know there is no legitimate hope of winning, but also know that you can’t appear to have given up. We saw it last November in Team Howard; the Clinton campaign went through it earlier this year; and now it’s the Republicans’ turn. And Sarah Palin is presumably trying to establish her credentials for a tilt at Obama four years from now – or, at the very least, avoid becoming an historical footnote equivalent to a one-hit wonder.

The next week and a half could get interesting if the tensions and the jockeying for position are starting to spill out in public. But I did find this bit particularly interesting:

“She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone,” said this McCain adviser. “She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else.

There is actually a word that might describe her behaviour better than ‘diva’:


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Here’s another observation relating to the importance of framing and controlling first impressions. Drew Westen, a psychology professor at Emory University, has written an article outlining how the Obama campaign needs to get their framing of the McCain-Palin ticket out there before the Republicans are able to deliver their own message at the RNC.

As I have noted previously in talking about the impact of false information, perceptions tend to stick once they have been created, and attempts to amend them can actually have a negative effect when the original information is repeated. While this is true of false propositions (e.g., that Saddam Hussein was connected to 9/11, or that John McCain had an illegitimate black child) and can be used maliciously, it is also true in terms of framing – the attempt to present factual information to emphasise the issues that are to your advantage and minimise the negative impact of that information. Westen has set out some of the ways that the Democrats can use to frame McCain’s choice of Palin as a bad one – naturally, the Republicans will try to frame them as a strong team. While it is not the only thing, the timing of getting these narratives out there will be an important factor in deciding their effectiveness.

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Is anyone surprised?

John Howard, at the National Press Club yesterday:

I condemn what happened. It was an unauthorised document. It does not represent my views. It was tasteless and offensive. There are many, there are myriad legitimate criticisms that can be made of the Australian Labor Party, but I do not believe that the Australian Labor Party has ever had any sympathy for the Bali bombings and I thought it was an outrageous thing to say.

Peter Costello, six weeks ago:

Mr Costello says sympathy should be going to the families of those who died in the Bali bombings not the people who carried out the attacks.

“I think it was a very strange time for the Labor Party, to come in support of the Bali bombers,” he said.

“Let’s not forget, the Bali bombers killed 88 of our fellow Australians.

Let’s have some sympathy for the 88 dead and their families, rather than sympathy for those who cruelly and cold bloodedly decided to kill them for no reason, other than they were Australians.”


I am not even remotely surprised that members of the Liberal Party have resorted to these fake leaflets in Lindsay. This is a government that has willingly and opportunistically exploited societal divisions whenever it has been feasible to do so. They are usually a bit more subtle about it, but the strategy has always been there. And it is quite likely that no official in the party would have been involved in making the decision to create those fake leaflets, but that does not absolve them of responsibility. It is the culture of the Liberal Party under John Howard that implicitly endorses these tactics. And it needs to be reformed, urgently.

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Let the last ditch stunts begin

Scaring people with the threat of invalid elections?

Beating up the fact that an advertisement used an actor?

Hoping for a hastily slapped-together sequel to the completely ineffective Sydney Declaration?

Somebody realises they are about to lose.

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How can any of Team Howard’s promises to fix, reform or improve things be taken seriously when they haven’t done those things during the past 11 years? This morning I saw an ad on TV from a Coalition candidate in a nearby electorate, telling voters how great a job the Coalition is going to do at getting our hospitals, our transport infrastructure, and our society working better – if they are given a fifth chance to do so.

The problem for Team Howard is that they can’t rely on their past record, because it is glaringly lacking in legitimate accomplishments. But after four terms of inaction and divisiveness, how can we believe that the fifth term would be different?

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The one-trick pony show goes on. Expect to be showered with promises. Don’t expect to be told which are non-core.

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MegaGeorge points out that the Libs’ advertising appears to be looking further down the road than 24th November. Here is the latest ad he is talking about:

Megalogenis notes that:

What it neglects to mention is the year when this hole is supposed to appear in Labor’s tax scales. It’s five years from now, in 2012-13, according to the material Peter Costello supplied this week.

The message, then, is don’t vote Labor a second time.

Does that mean the Libs think this one is lost and are laying groundwork for the rebuilding process? The alternative is that they think a very abstract scare campaign is going to work – that the electorate will be both willing and able to contemplate how we will stand in relation to tax scales, employment levels, and wage-driven inflation several years down the road. There doesn’t seem to be much sign that it is working, and I can’t imagine it will – the threat is much less direct and the credibility of the Liberal Party less strong than in the 2004 fear-mongering about interest rate rises.

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Spending spree

In the past few days, I haven’t had much to say about the new policies and spending announcements from Team Howard and Kevin Rudd. I am likely to continue this policy. I am afraid that I just don’t see much to say about it.

Both sides are trying to buy votes; both are launching initiatives that seem oriented toward making segments of the population think, “Wow, under a <insert party name here> government I will be $<insert amount> better off.” After the policy is announced, economists will discuss the extent to which those promises are inflationary. The other party will condemn them as an election stunt that does not make sense, and will assure us that they have a plan for the future.

It seems to me that none of these promises are the issues on which the election will be decided. I can’t get excited about the money being thrown around, even when it is (allegedly) coming my way. But Australia is worth more than this; we deserve better than this. I choose to believe that the election will be about our values – our vision for what Australia should be, and what type of society we want to live in.

So, I am likely to refrain from commenting on every policy launch from the two major parties.

Unless, of course, they promise to give me one … million … dollars!

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The Libs are out in force today, trying to erase last night’s defeat from the media narrative as quickly as possible. The Captain is spruiking his climate fund, announced during last night’s shenanigans. The Mad Monk is throwing money at women who have had breast cancer, with the major funding component being for breast prostheses. And Malcolm Turnbull is tip-toeing very slowly backward from his Captain’s declarations on nuclear energy, which Rudd raised during the debate last night as an issue that hasn’t been spoken about by Team Howard.

It’s all about moving the conversation forward. Tomorrow we will start to hear about how we’re (again – or, perhaps, “finally”) going to get serious about training the Iraqis to handle their own security, so that one day we can leave.

I maintain that Rudd should keep the issue of further debates running – indicate that he would be happy to have a couple more, whenever Howard is available – especially since there are all of these new policy and funding initiatives to discuss.

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Team Howard’s approach of targeting the union links in Labor’s ranks are starting to get the attention they deserve. Jeremy Sear warns us of the impending threat from percussionists (watch out for castanets under the bed); Rex Ringschott at Club Troppo turns the mirror onto Team Howard.

Meanwhile, MegaGeorge runs the numbers and finds that the self-employed barely outnumber the trade union members and questions the wisdom of demonising a sizable minority in the electorate.

All of this discussion makes me wonder about a couple of things:

  1. Why is the Liberal Party so keen to make this a key theme of their campaign?
  2. Why doesn’t the Labor Party hit back by pointing out the links to the top end of town among the Libs?

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