Sunday, August 1, 2010

"Change" message can still work -- in the long-term

"Change" is still a marketable idea. It resonates with Americans from all walks of life, from the rightest of TEA Party protesters to the furthest left of progressives.

What matters in regards to "change" is whether the mainstream will view it as positive or negative once implemented. In 2008, voters overwhelmingly approved of the "change" now-President Barack Obama offered to them. In 2010, it's yet unclear if voters will sustain that notion, with much of it depending upon how energized both those who support and those who oppose the president's ideas will be.

Obama right now is stuck -- still wanting to promote the "change" he endorsed two years ago, he knows that doing so will only fire-up his opponents' base. Abandoning the mantra altogether will cause his own base to lose faith in him, giving little incentive for them to come to the polls in November.

He's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. If he keeps up his message of "change," he'll risk losing big in 2010 -- not because Americans reject that message but rather because the opposing base will be that much fired-up.

His best bet is to look long-term. It's become expected that every president loses seats in their first Congressional midterm "test." If Obama loses seats while staying on message, he won't lose as much of his base when 2012 rolls around.

Presidential election years draw more mainstream voters in, while midterms are more likely to bring those who feel victimized by the current administration to the ballot boxes (whether that victimization is justified this year, however, is in serious doubt).

Obama is going to lose seats in 2010 due to a stronger far-right conservative base coming to the polls. But that isn't a reflection of a shifting attitude of mainstream voters. If he wants to keep his base energized for 2012, and keep the mainstream voters interested in his message, he'll need to keep his message intact from here until then -- and he'll need to act on it as well.

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