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Entries for 'Gary Pearce'

24
Whenever you think political discourse can’t get coarser, somebody comes along and proves you wrong. Especially super-PACs, which are basically piggy banks for political consultants who make big bucks by making over-the-top ads that make the people writing the checks happy but flop with voters. (See: Karl Rove, Crossroads GPS, 2012 elections.)
 
Carter and I got to talking about the hyperbole, overstatement and over-the-top rhetoric. We both have a suspicion that voters are on to the game; as soon as they hear the dark music and voice of doom that scream “political ad,” they tune out. Then Carter sent me some research that bears out our suspicion.
 
The Global Strategy Group studied the question: “How can candidates be more believable when talking about their opponents?” It concluded: “Cut the hyperbole, exaggeration and name-calling.” It elaborated:
 
“Eliminating hyperbole, embellishment and exaggeration leads to more credible messaging about opponents
 
“Given the need to break through, campaigns often dial up the heat to make their message as incendiary as possible. But our research shows that doing so makes messages less credible and thus less effective. Voters react better when there is no hyperbole or extraneous name-calling.
 
“GSG asked voters about a series of descriptions of their member of Congress. Half of voters heard descriptions with adjectives that summed up the negative with a pointed characterization, while the other half heard descriptions that did not include the additional adjectives.
 
“When asked if their member of Congress ‘has positions that are not moderate and lack common sense,’ 49% of voters agree the statement is true. But when asked if their member ‘has extreme and radical positions that are not moderate and lack common sense,’ just 27% agree – a 22-point decrease in believability. Similarly, when asked if their member ‘is a career politician who uses the title and office for personal financial gain,’ 52% agree. However, when asked if the member ‘is a corrupt career politician who uses the title and office for personal financial gain,’ just 31% agree – a 21-point drop.
 
“Eliminating hyperbole in ways beyond the characterization of an opponent also boosts credibility. Fifty-seven percent of voters say it is true that their member ‘hasn’t accomplished very much, and someone else could be more effective,’ but just 48% agree when the statement says their member ‘hasn’t accomplished anything at all, and someone else could be more effective’.”
 
One of the plagues of modern campaigns is consultants out to prove the’re the toughest SOBs in town. Their tough talk might impress their clients. But voters see through it.

 

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22
From a message point of view, the rollout of McCrory 2.0 was a mess – and a missed opportunity for the Governor.
 
McCrory might have heeded his “mentor” Jim Hunt and called for a sustained three-year effort to raise teacher salaries to the national average.  Instead, he vaguely promised some kind of pay raise for this year only, gave no details and refused to endorse Hunt’s plan.
 
Whew! Democrats dodged a bullet.
 
Instead of a bold, focused stroke that seized public imagination and reshaped the political landscape, McCrory opted for a multi-themed “2014 PrioritiesPalooza!”
 
He offered a laundry list of government-speak: teacher pay raises (for some teachers), fracking and offshore drilling (gee, what could go wrong there?), revamping Medicaid (ditto), fixing DHHS, reining in puppy mills, less drugs and alcohol on college campus (but more guns), nicer state government buildings and “art on the move” (paintings, not Pope).
 
The choreography was odd. He, his Cabinet and senior team sat around a table in the ornate Executive Mansion, with an elaborate chandelier looming behind the Governor. From one camera angle, he was in front of a plush love seat that looked like a throne.
 
For Democrats, McCrory offered up a smorgasbord of political targets. But, most of all, they’ll say he’s not doing enough to get teacher pay out of the national basement. And they can say his happy talk about the “Carolina Comeback” ignores people who can’t find jobs and can’t make ends meet.
 
Then there was his somewhat baffling question: “Is DHHS too big to succeed?”  Well, it’s clearly not too big to fail.
 
In the end, the whole production mattered very little. Only one thing does: What does Senator Berger want?

 

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21
A TAPster who spent years working in economic development shares this:
 
“The most astonishing news last week (other than the daily calamities at DHHS) was the invitation we received via email to attend a fundraiser in Raleigh for the governor of South Carolina. Yes, the head sandlapper is coming to Raleigh to raise money at the behest of a Raleigh lobbyist.
 
“Huh?
 
“Why would any North Carolina lobbyist think this is a good idea and why would any North Carolinian attend and give money? Gov. Haley leads an administration that is agile and effective when recruiting new business and jobs to her state. She and her team are kicking North Carolina’s butt all over the place in the industrial recruiting wars, and won’t think twice about luring away our existing businesses, aggressively wooing our prospects with big incentive packages we can’t match, or starting the Civil War again if that seems necessary.
 
“What we need is a road block at South of the Border and a strong dose of reality in Raleigh.”

 

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20
My blog below on the 1984 Senate race prompted a TAPster to note that the Martin Luther King holiday was a big issue that year.
 
Jim Hunt led Jesse Helms in early polls, but Helms turned the race around in late 1983 when he filibustered on the Senate floor against a national holiday honoring King.  He followed the filibuster with a notable TV ad: “I oppose the Martin Luther King holiday. Where do you stand, Jim?”
 
There were a lot of factors in that race, including Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale at the tops of the tickets. But, after the November election, Harrison Hickman did a poll to help us understand what happened. He found that the single issue that best predicted how a person voted in the Senate race – with almost a 100 percent correlation – was how they felt about the King holiday.
 
Few if any of us in Hunt’s campaign would have believed that, 30 years later, America would have an African-American President. And none of us would have been surprised to know that race is still a powerful force in politics.

 

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20
Thom Tillis is walking the same tightrope that Jim Hunt walked in his U.S. Senate race 30 years ago. But Tillis’ balance is even more precarious.
 
Tillis today, like Hunt then, has to appeal to the broad November electorate and also pacify an extreme faction in his own party.
 
Hunt’s problems came from the then-ascendant left wing of the Democratic Party, symbolized by Walter Mondale, Ted Kennedy and Jesse Jackson. For Tillis, it’s the Tea Party.
 
Unlike Tillis, Hunt didn’t have to run a primary gauntlet. Tillis wants to avoid it, so he’s avoiding debates and joint appearances with his opponents. He saw what happened to Mitt Romney when Romney tried to appease the Fox News crowd in 2012.
 
Tillis is also resorting to the last resort of political scoundrels: the argument that he is more “electable.” That’s code for “not a nut.” His campaign is busily warning other Republicans, especially legislators, that they will be endangered species in November if the GOP nominates one of Tillis’ opponents.
 
Tillis hopes to avoid proving the old adage that the only things in the middle of the road are yellow stripes and dead possums.

 

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17
Pat McCrory looked this week like a man urgently pushing the reset button. Like a politician who desperately wants to change course before he goes off a cliff.
 
So first he talked about teacher pay. Then he praised Jim Hunt. Then he was at the airport greeting President Obama, then in the audience listening to the President’s speech. While other Republicans bashed Obama, McCrory talked about a partnership with the White House,
 
But three people stand in the way of a reset: Aldona Wos, Phil Berger and Pat McCrory.
 
As long as Wos and DHHS stay in the headlines, McCrory will be stuck with the appearance of cronyism and ineptitude. As long as Berger wages ideological warfare on teachers, McCrory will be dragged down by the legislature’s abysmal poll ratings. As long as McCrory sticks with both of them, he won’t get back to what got him elected: an image as a moderate, bipartisan, can-do Mayor.
 
Bipartisan words and photo-ops won’t be enough. McCrory needs a bold stroke.  Two of them.

 

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15
Jim Hunt should respond swiftly and strongly to the base calumny that Pat McCrory has cast upon his reputation.
 
Speaking this week at the Hunt Education Institute’s Holshouser Legislators Retreat, McCrory – according to the N&O – “praised former Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt as a valued adviser.”
 
McCrory was quoted as saying: “Jim Hunt is a hero of mine, he’s a mentor of mine….he’s been a great adviser to me.”
 
Governor Hunt, this slander must not stand. You don’t want people thinking McCrory has been taking your advice.
 
Or maybe McCrory will take your advice now. Maybe he’ll commit to raising teacher pay in to the national average. He can sign a petition to himself and the legislature right here.

 

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15
Fearless Forecast: Obamacare won’t be a decisive issue in 2014, but Chris Christie’s bridge-gate will be in 2016.
 
That sounds backwards. After all, polls right here at home show that Obamacare is dragging down Senator Hagan. And the buzz is that Christie’s poll ratings are holding up and Republicans are rallying around him.
 
But both will change, and here’s why: Nobody understands Obamacare; it’s too complicated. By November, nobody will understand what Obamacare did or didn’t do. They won’t have the patience to read complicated analyses of the complex, confusing health-care system.
 
The only thing people understand about Obamacare is that the website didn’t work. That is something we get.
 
And everybody gets bullying and deliberately causing traffic jams. Plus, the media will never get tired of this story, especially since it reinforces an existing impression of Christie.

As for Christie’s “bounce,” remember that it took two years for Watergate to bring down Nixon. Republicans rallied around him at first. Then, like now, they were uniting against the “liberal media” more than for Nixon/Christie.

In politics, what's up today is likely to be down tomorrow. And vice versa.

 

 

 

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14
Democrats fondly hope that, when he comes to NCSU tomorrow, President Obama finally gets his economic message right.
 
He has struggled at that all five years in the White House. For all the good he has done, he has never done well at explaining what he’s doing.
 
In retrospect, maybe he should have spent his first year just driving home what a disaster George Bush left behind – and how difficult the road back would be. Instead, the Spock-like President went straight to what he was doing about the problem. And he got saddled from the get-go with the bailout and stimulus born by Bush & Co.
 
Ever since, he has struggled to balance hope with gloom-and-doom. He has tried different lines and tacks. (One reporter reminded me of his “Sputnik moment” theme; that never achieved liftoff.)
 
The President never had a simple phrase like New Deal or even Two Americas. He never had Bill Clinton’s gift for explaining stuff and feeling your pain.
 
The one time he and his team got the message right was in 2012 against Mitt Romney, and that was a negative message: Romney is a cruel bazillionaire who likes to fire people like you.
 
Now Obama gets a reset, in Raleigh and in his State of the Union. He better get it right this time. Otherwise, his message will be real simple in his last two years: this Republican Congress is screwing you.

 

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13
The Watauga Wizard, Jerry Wayne Williamson, nails it: “McCrory Blocks Traffic on All Bridges Going into CD12.” Jerry adds in his Watauga Watch blog:
 
“(Congressman Mel Watt’s) resignation should have triggered a special election to fill his unexpired term in the U.S. House. But, no, Gov. McCrory decided that the seat could be filled on November 4, 2014, along with every other seat in Congress. In other words, citizens of the 12th Congressional District will have no representation in Congress for the next 300 days. Well, after all, those people are mainly black and didn't vote for McCrory. Who the hell cares whether they have a congressman for 2014?”
 
In light of Chris Christie’s Bridgegate, you wonder what a public records request might unearth here.  Maybe an email along the lines of: “Time for some problems in Mel Watt’s district.”
 
Another 12th District resident asked: “Would McCrory have done the same if it was a safe GOP seat?” You know the answer.
 
For McCrory, this was an opportunity to do the right thing for the people he was elected to serve. Instead, he did the politics-as-usual thing.

 

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