September 7th, 2012

Sean Trende has a typically smart and insightful column about what the two conventions tell us about how the campaigns see themselves. On the Romney team and Tampa:

[T]he Republican Party is still held in lower esteem than the Democrats. The last CBS News poll, for example, found the GOP with a 35 percent favorable rating vs. a 53 percent unfavorable rating. For the Democrats it was better: 43 percent favorable, 47 percent unfavorable.

This is actually perfectly consistent with the edge in registration that Republicans are opening up. It suggests that this isn’t a “real” advantage, but rather is a function of Republican-leaning independents increasingly calling themselves Republicans, rather than any change in mindset.

This is why the Republicans invested so much time and effort trying to reintroduce their party. It’s a rebranding effort, and I suspect it was meant to pre-empt any attempts to tie Romney/Ryan to the unpopular Bush administration, as well as to inoculate the ticket against a generic “Do you really want to put the Republicans in charge?” argument. I don’t think it was particularly successful, but that is what I think is going on.

I’d largely agree with his assessment both of their strategic goals and with their level of success. What’s striking is that there’s an obvious way Romney could have shown voters that his party is different than it was four years ago–and it’s something smart conservatives like James Pethokoukis have been urging for months: Break up the big-banks.

It’s populist. It’s a Republican Sister Soulja. And it’s also something that’s probably worth doing on the merits. Imagine how changed the RNC might have been if the twin centerpieces of the Romney plan were to break up the big banks and solve the fiscal crisis? Instead it was “we build this” and “we love women.” I’m not sure how well those messages go toward achieving what Trende sees as their strategic convention goal.

  1. Judith September 7, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Yes, break up the big banks and anything else populist the GOP can think of. Obama has been TERRIBLE for middle class/working families. I thought that was the best line of Ryan’s speech – about the 12 million unemployed would stretch from coast to coast.

    The GOP should talk much more about the tragedy of unemployment and poverty. Somewhere, a few liberals might be shamed. Not many, but a few. This is obviously a long term alignment strategy, but if the Left is going to impoverish the country, the GOP should sounding the alarm (sooner, louder) and align itself with Main Street.

  2. REPLY
  3. Nedward September 8, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    There is no Souljah opening here. You are mistaking two incommensurable complaints for one cross-partisan policy mirage. When you say “big banks,” it seems in reference to oligarchic, TBTF, parasitic, quasi-GSE institutions such as Citi/JPMorgan/BofA who play the Fed like a violin. When they say “big banks,” they mean Rich Uncle Pennybags, and they want his cash for free houses, free college, windmills, Head Start, and midnight basketball.

    And in other lefty venues “big banks” carries the meaning: Charles Koch; Rush Limbaugh; Israel; white people; or Christianity

  4. REPLY
  5. Nedward September 9, 2012 at 12:18 am

    A real Souljah for Romney would be a few choice remarks on indefinite detention in Bagram, or inadvertent drone assassinations of teenaged U.S. citizens, but he’s not exactly known for vision.

  6. REPLY
  7. Maguro September 10, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Nobody gives a crap about that stuff, except some lefty antiwar types who won’t vote for him anyway.

  8. REPLY
  9. mrmandias September 11, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    The media has to be boosting you for a Sister Souljah moment to work. Republicans aren’t eligible for them.

  10. REPLY
  11. Nedward September 13, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    You assume it’s done for votes, which would disqualify Clinton’s ’92 Rainbow Coalition speech since it didn’t gain him any. The only purpose of an SSM is instilling Respectability/Historical Significance in the Souljah-hungry press, hopefully so they run interference for you later. See pre-2008 career of John McCain