Dems, Mind Your Demographics

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Should new marketing research be a warning sign for the left’s message meisters? Some former pollsters seem to think so.

In the great debate about how Democrats can stage a comeback (beyond simply waiting for the coming Republican implosion that never seems to arrive), American Environics rejected some of the more popular recommendations out there. Rather than focusing on reframing the Democratic message, as Berkeley linguistics and cognitive science professor George Lakoff has recommended, or on redoubling Democratic efforts to persuade Americans to become economic populists, as another school of thought suggests, the American Environics team argued that the way to move voters on progressive issues is to sometimes set aside policies in favor of values. By focusing on “bridge values,� they say, progressives can reach out to constituents of opportunity who share certain fundamental beliefs, even if the targeted parties don’t necessarily share progressives’ every last goal. In that assessment, Shellenberger and Nordhaus are representative of an increasingly influential school of thought within the Democratic Party.

I’ve always thought Lakoff’s ideas were pretty shallow. Yeah, start talking about it differently…yeah…that’s going to help.

Now, this is not to say that Lakoff’s ideas don’t have some value. They do…but they certainly aren’t enough. Not by a long shot. There needs to be something else…some meat on the bones, if you will.

The reality is that people are too well connected to information nowadays and they can see if the Dems are backing up their words with real actions. The conservatives could trade on people’s ignorance back in the day because the internet wasn’t so pervasive. And sure, both parties still prey on people’s ignorance, but you can’t recreate the orchestrated linguistic bravado of right-wing noise machine that started in the 80s. It just won’t work.

More from The American Prospect.

(h/t: Joshua from the comments section)

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