Thursday, November 09, 2006

National GOP Strategists: Blame Our Loss On The Candidates!

Greg Sargent at TPM's Election Central writes:

In a little-noticed episode right before the election, Karl Rove began laying the groundwork for some post-election spin should the GOP lose: Rove had his allies leak word that he was "privately frustrated that individual candidates have not been more aggressive in drawing contrasts with Democrats on national security." In other words, Rove was saying, if the GOP loses, it'll be the candidates' fault, not mine.

In today's Washington Post, GOP strategists are shown continuing with this post-election spin, again trying to shove off blame for Tuesday's catastrophic defeat onto individual candidates who apparently lost because they didn't heed the national party's advice closely enough.


Sure, candidates and their choices matter in individual races. But broadly speaking, the idea that candidates failed the national party -- rather than the other way around -- is pure bunkum. A key reason the GOP lost was because its central Rove-inspired strategy of framing it as a choice between "stay the course" and "cut and run" was a miserable, catastrophic failure -- and when it tried to revise this strategy by saying that they'd never called for "staying the course," it was way too late. As exit polls confirmed, voters registered strong disapproval of the administration's policies in Iraq in overwhelming numbers.

In district after district, the national GOP funded millions upon millions of dollars' worth of vicious ads and lurid mailings accusing Dems of wanting to lose, wanting to leave before the "job is done," helping the terrorists, etc. This national strategy tied individual GOP candidates tightly to the "stay-the-course-versus-cut-and-run" frame. Yet the Dem counterattack was a simple one: Bush's Iraq policies are failing, and the White House is in denial about it. In the end, more voters agreed with the Dem argument. They wanted something -- anything -- other than what they'd been getting from Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney, and no amount of NRCC or RNC screaming that anyone who had such a thought was a coward or defeatist could change their minds. The strategy foisted by national GOP strategists on their candidates failed -- and those who did the foisting are to blame for what happened.


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