Republicans Could Learn A Lot From Obama’s “Make People’s Lives Better” Strategy

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney arrives on stage on election night November 7, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts, moments before conceding defeat to US President Barack Obama in the 2012 US presidential election.

Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

Mitt Romney, chatting on the phone with donors to his campaign, “attributed his rival’s victory to ‘the gifts’ the administration had given to blacks, Hispanics and young voters during Obama’s first term.”

That’s a funny way of phrasing it, but I feel like Romney basically has this right. Obama offered policies that he believed would make people’s lives better, and the people who deemed those promises credible tended to vote for Obama. The question is why can’t Republicans learn from this strategy? As I wrote, it’s silly for Republicans to focus on some kind of narrowcasting effort to win the Hispanic vote—the issue is that they need a basic economic policy message that most people think will make their lives better. Lower tax rates on people earning over $250,000 just isn’t an agenda with much appeal. There are blocs of people out there who strongly identify with religiously-motivated social conservative or white identity politics but those are shrinking groups. In the longer term you need to make the “people think people will be better off in concrete ways if you win” thing work.