In the absence of obvious heirs apparent this election year, we've seen decades-old racial and gender barriers broken, party lines crossed in both directions and unique candidates emerge. I've spoken before about why John McCain is the clear choice. So why would anyone still be undecided?
This week I'll be focusing on these coveted undecided voters and offering some ideas for wooing them to the McCain camp. Consider how we market McCain to:
Undecided first time voters. The media has painted Obama's campus and rally appearances as a Dave-Matthews-concert-worthy lovefest. And clearly he is ahead in this demographic. However, these groups are least likely to *actually show up*. I also think McCain's bipartisanship, military heroism, straight talk and sense of humor appeal to younger voters (like the ones at Villanova University in key battleground state of Pennsylvania.)
This generation of voters trusts the mainstream media less, will Google fishy rumors, is less vested in partisan politics and is more likely to be open-minded. We have a chance to woo them with "netroots outreach," multimedia, town hall straight talk and direct, simple comparison between the candidates' experience and qualifications.
Baby Boomers. My parents' generation, the largest in America, is also one of the hardest-hit by economic instability. They remember VietNam and lost friends and brothers there. They are retiring and aging; tax policies and healthcare availability are important to them. These folks may be less willing to cross party lines in principle, but McCain's heroic record of fighting in VietNam and in Washington can inspire even the most jaded voter. They need to hear about McCain's domestic strength and his experience - tempered with his independence from party hardliners and special interests.
Disgruntled Hillary Supporters. Hell hath no fury like a million women (and men) scorned. The DNC insists that their people will fall in line but the data and anecdotes (click this one it is good!) tell me otherwise. When Dean and team decided each voter in Michigan and Florida is half a person, and awarded delegates to someone whose name wasn't even on the ballot, a lot of folks woke up and smelled the (stinky) coffee.
We at the McCain camp welcome you, experience-valuing, fairness-oriented Hillary voters, and we have the only candidate with an actual record of working effectively and respectfully across the aisle. Heck, she and McCain have even been known to throw back a few - why not join her and toast McCain's success? (More at Steve's awesome HillarySupportersforMcCain blog.)
Catholics. As a lifelong practicing Catholic, it boggles my mind that so many Catholics claim to espouse the church's values, yet still believe Obama's values and policies are ethically acceptable. Because frankly, they're not. If you don't believe me, ask the Bishops.
Obama is militantly pro-abortion and has even worked against common-sense clauses like parental consent, limiting federal funding, provider choice (i.e. Catholic hospitals having to provide abortion services), etc. This extremism should concern even Catholics who identify themselves as "pro-choice" because the cost and consequences of an extremist policy are so high. And speaking of high costs, Obama's tax policies will hurt middle class families the day he takes office (see how much the repealed tax cuts will increase your bill).
McCain, on the other hand, is a pro-life, pro-family advocate of limited government, supporting school choice and vouchers. He is even willing to buck his own party's standard-bearers to promote environmental stewardship and compassionate immigration policy (and before you complain check the facts).
I can only assume undecided Catholics have mixed feelings about the Iraq war and whose policy will result in more suffering and lives lost. (More on this later.) For now, I will merely say that McCain's values and priorities overall are much more in line with the Catholic worldview, and it is vitally important to educate Catholics about this in key battleground states (Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, etc).
Hispanics. Everyone, including myself, assumes that the overwhelming majority of African American voters will support Obama's precedent-setting bid. But the media talks less about Obama's smaller support among Hispanics, who had largely gravitated to Hillary. McCain's experience dealing with the Hispanic community in Arizona, his status as a war hero, and his straight-talk approach play well with this group, who are disproportionately Catholic (see above) and/or formerly for Hillary (ditto). This is an area to watch closely (I would welcome a Spanish pro-McCain post from a Latina Mom - email me at moms4mccain at yahoo.com).
I welcome and encourage your comments and ideas about trends you see among undecided voters. Stay tuned for ideas on overcoming objections, boots-on-the-ground resources, and other commentary from the blogopshere.