The Conversation

So, About That Messaging

There are a couple of recent polls worth mentioning.

A recent Gallup poll indicates that "Americans express an increasingly strong preference for their political leaders in Washington to compromise, rather than stick to their principles at the cost of getting nothing done." Fifty-three percent of national adults believe it's more important to compromise than stick to beliefs (25% believe it's more important to stick to beliefs). Thirty-eight percent of Republicans and 61% of Democrats believe it's more important to compromise (compared with 36% of Republicans and 20% of Democrats who believe it's more important to stick to beliefs). Gallup notes: "Notably, Americans who identify as Tea Party supporters are about as likely to favor compromise as sticking to core beliefs." (39% believe it's more important to compromise; 40% believe it's more important to stick to beliefs).

On the issue of defunding ObamaCare, a CNBC All-America Economic Survey reveals that "Opposition to defunding increases sharply when the issue of shutting down the government and defaulting is included. In that case, Americans oppose defunding 59 percent to 19 percent, with 18 percent of respondents unsure."

The National Journal reveals that "According to the latest United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll, a solid majority of Americans said Congress should consider legislation that might delay or defund the program known as ObamaCare separate from any government funding or debt-limit measure."

None of these results surprise me.

First, let's talk compromise. The honest truth is that Americans generally can't stand politicians. What do they hate even more? Politicians arguing back and forth while Americans struggle to put food on the table and work two part-time jobs. The stuff that makes for good, heated TV segments among politicians often makes regular Americans at home roll their eyes and say, "Can't you guys just shut up and figure this out?"

When it comes to a potential government shutdown, you have to win the public opinion battle first. Well, you don't have to. But you should if you want to win upcoming elections. In the case of ObamaCare, it wasn't hard to win that battle--but you have to start early. This law has been around for how long now? Why, with just a few weeks before this potential shutdown, were we finally seeing solid and consistent televised cases being made by conservatives from the House and Senate? Why so last-minute?

It's absurd.

Yes, the argument is legitimate that a shutdown should rest on Harry Reid's shoulders if he wants to fight at all costs to uphold a law that the American people don't want. But what should happen isn't what always does. Barack Obama should've lost in 2012 given the economic conditions that surrounded his failed policies and the debt he ballooned. But he didn't. And one of the main reasons why had nothing to do with policy.

Messaging. Messaging. Messaging. Messaging.

I can't repeat it enough. If you wait until the last minute to articulate something well, it may be too late to sell your case. You have also given your opponent an exceptional amount of time to discredit you before you've even opened your mouth.

If you're going to fight hard, do it early.

Once again--Offense, not defense, my friends.

Follow Jedediah on Twitter @JedediahBila


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