Friday, November 11, 2005

A Campaign Issue That Worked

One of the GOP talking points has been that the Democrats don't stand for anything, they just criticise whatever the GOP does. The meme is half accurate. The Democrats have been critical of what the Republicans have been doing, finally, because the Republican plans in reforming Social Security, in balancing the budget on the backs of the poor, in lying the country into war and then misprosecuting it, and in denying basic human rights to detainees being held in Guantanamo Bay and other prisons deserve criticism. Furthermore, even when Democrats announce proposals, the press doesn't deem the proposals important enough to cover. Still, as we now ease into the election season for 2006, it's important for Democratic candidates to start formulating and articulating proposals which show the difference between the Republicans and which show the electorate the possibilities.

I recently received an emailed "Press Release" from StemPAC (a group supporting stem cell research) on the successful use of stem cell research as in issue in a campaign. Jon Corzine was elected Governor of New Jersey last Tuesday by openly supporting such research during his campaign.

StemPAC cited the following points showing that stem cell research was key to this victory:

- The single most notable TV ad the Corzine campaign ran was on the subject of stem cell research (featuring Carl Riccio, a paralyzed young man who urged support for Corzine and stem cell research).

- Corzineā€™s poll numbers went up during the time that that ad ran and dominated the news cycle (October 25-31). A Quinnipac poll released on October 19th showed Corzine with a 7 point lead. The same poll released on November 2nd showed Corzine with a 12-point lead.

StemPAC is clearly blowing its own horn on the matter, but they have every right to. As the group noted in their release, stem cell research is something the American public is interested in.

- According to a July, 2005 study by the Pew Research Center:

-90% of Americans had heard either "a lot" or "a little" about stem cell research;

- The 48% who said "a lot" was nearly double number in May, 2002 (27%);

- When asked whether it was more important to "conduct research" or "not destroy embryos," the split in favor of research was 57% to 30% (as opposed to 43/38 in May, 2002)

- Among those who had heard "a lot" about stem cell research, the split was 68% to 25% in favor of "conduct research."

- Among critical swing voters who self identify as "independents," the percentage favoring "conduct research" has grown from 49% to 66% in that same period.

What Democrats should begin doing more forcefully is to promote such issues as stem cell research for many reasons, not the least of which is that such issues appeal to the better parts of the American psyche, not the worst parts. Governor-elect Corzine just showed that it works.


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