REVIEW Part I : How Republicans can WIN in a Changing America

How Republicans can WIN in a Changing America: The Art of War with Lesson Plans

By S. J. Helgesen and V. Lance Tarrance

Book Review By John E. Wade II


This is an extremely well written, concise, and realistic book that I highly recommend to all fellow Republicans, as well as anyone else who would like to understand the elections of 1980, 2012, and the coming elections of 2014 and 2016.  Lance Tarrance has a wealth of experience conducting hundreds of polls, and is both a consummate pollster and a strategist.  Stephan Helgesen has served in the Foreign Service for thirty years and managed a campaign.  Both have written previous books.

Why did such a smart, attractive candidate like Mitt Romney lose in 2012?  The short answer is “The Machine” of the Obama campaign.  Secondly, it was Romney’s “…own campaign which, according to some, ‘held him back and kept him on a leash of civility…’”

“Crunch the numbers and the unmistakable conclusion you’ll draw is that the Republicans lost because of:

  1. A higher Democratic turnout,
  2. A lower Republican voter turnout and
  3. A higher percentage of Blacks [93 percent], Hispanics [71 percent] and young women [60 percent] voting for the Democrats.”

The authors explain “…that all campaign strategies will need to be more attentive and more nuanced to appeal to the ethnic voter, the low information voter, the emotional voter and many other single-issue voters.  The colors of the campaign world today are much more than just Red, Blue and Purple.”

The authors did a good job of summing up the media, something that is both truthful and unfortunate in terms of informing our electorate:  “If you’re on CNN regularly you’re probably left of center, MSNBC, ultra left, PBS, left of center to Progressive, Fox News, center to right and mixed, and on the ‘mainstream media’ TV you are left to center.”

A key factor in 2012 was that “…our deteriorating economic condition was successfully blamed on the Republicans (and the do-nothing Congress) by the Democrats instead of where it belonged…at the doorstep of an inept tone deaf Administration and a divisive President…Republicans lost the argument because they didn’t make a clear cause and effect connection between economic growth and a proven private sector empowerment model.”

Looking at the House and Senate races in 2014, “it’s too early to say what exactly is motivating the Democratic voters to ignore the reality of a failed Obama economic policy, a divisive social policy, a flawed energy policy, and an amateurish foreign policy.”  We just can’t afford—for our nation, its people and the world—to again underrate the Democratic Machine.

I agree very much with the authors that money has gotten too big in elections, and that campaign reform should be high on our agenda—“Our elections are important to our democracy.”  Having to raise a billion dollars for each presidential race, not to mention the millions for senate and house races, puts fundraising too high on everyone’s priorities.

A host of sad personal economic stories are in progress during the Obama administration.  “Republicans would be wise to start gathering these personal stories now.  They will need them, later.”  In 2014 and 2016 it will be critical “…to show HOW the values of the Republican Party can turn around our current economic malaise.”  Republicans must “Shore up the base with an optimistic and uplifting Reaganist message that is rooted in history and makes a clear cause and effect connection to today using recent historical comparisons that fit within the voter’s generational frame of reference.”  Republicans would do well to highlight their successes in the Red states.

The book has a multitude of advice for Republican candidates, including, “Never speak ill of another Republican.”  I like that one.

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