Resurgent Republic released this pre-election memo on Friday that should top your weekend reading list. The analysis, authored by three top GOP strategists and Resurgent Republic leaders -- Ed Gillespie, Whit Ayers and Leslie Sanchez – argues that Obama and the Democrats’ slide among independent voters occurred gradually throughout the course of 2009 and 2010 – not in the last several months – as these voters grew increasingly frustrated, worried and weary with the big government solutions to every perceived problem. It also highlights how Democrats focused on a host of other priorities other than real job creation.
Here’s a sample of why Obama lost ground among independents:
Presented with an opportunity to win Independents back, Democrats sought to convince these voters that more intervention by the Federal Government was needed. More government spending to jump-start the economy. More government control of health care to reign in rising costs. More government regulation of energy to help the environment. More tax revenue to pay down the debt. As a result, President Obama and congressional Democrats pursued policies that exacerbated Independents’ worries instead of easing them.
What Congress did not accomplish was also just as troubling as what they did, according to the Resurgent memo:
The majority in Congress also postponed voting on controversial bills, such as cap-and-trade and card check legislation, and pledged to re-visit these items in a lame duck session of Congress. Failing to act on these items prior to Election Day intensified the political headwinds. In a dozen battleground Senate states, voters were less likely to support a Democrat for House or Senate if Congress failed to stop or delay the scheduled tax increases (55 percent) or if Congress waited to pass controversial legislation in a lame duck session (60 percent).
Democrats and Obama also missed the boat with these swing voters when it came to solid policies to reduce unemployment:
On job creation, Independents grew increasingly skeptical throughout this election cycle that government spending leads to a lasting recovery. In April 2009 Independents believed “the federal government is squandering money on pork-barrel projects, bailouts, and big spending programs that create few private sector jobs” by 53 to 40 percent. One year later, Independents believed the economic stimulus package failed to “protect or create millions of jobs in both the public and private sector” by 61 to 26 percent. In addition, 63 percent of Independents said the federal government should spend less to reduce the budget deficit.
But instead of focusing on jobs and the economy, the Democrats seemed obsessed with passing health care.
When voters said the economy and unemployment was the most important issue facing the nation, President Obama and congressional Democrats spent more than one year debating health care reform legislation which voters believe does more to increase coverage than control costs.
The Resurgent pre-election memo provides a useful set of “closing arguments” you might hear Republicans and conservatives make between now and Election Day. If GOP candidates are not emphasizing these points as the campaign draws to a close, they should be.