McCain's tin ear.

A mostly political Weblog.
July 7 2008 5:01 AM

McCain's Tin Ear

Happy Fourth of July ... from Mexico!

(Continued from Page 64)

3) Alert emailer M wonders why Obama is applying a Tom Frank analysis--of working class voters who vote Republican--to Pennsylvania, since unlike Kansas, Pennsylvania is a blue state that "hasn't voted for a Republican presidential nominee since 1988." And the most economically distressed parts of the state are the most Democratic, despite all the clinging to guns and God that's going on. [**See Correction, below] In short, Obama's explaining something that doesn't happen. ...  I suppose one answer is that Obama wasn't explaining why Pennsylvanians wouldn't vote for a Democrat but why they might not vote for him--a black, liberal Democrat.  But Obama says he's explaining why small-town Rustbelt voters don't buy the idea that government can help them, which sounds an awful lot like not buying Democratic ideology generally. ...

**Correction: I misstated emailer M's argument. He's not arguing that Pennsylvania's less prosperous areas are more Democratic than, say, Philadelphia. They aren't. He's arguing that they were Democratic in the '80s, when economic distress was at its peak, and have become more Republican since, as the distress eased. M cites The Almanac of American Politics, co-authored by Michael Barone, who wrote:

"Relieved of economic stress, voters here [Western PA] moved towards Republicans in the 1990s."

But I don't think Barone is saying that it's prosperity that bred Republicanism (which would be the opposite of the Obama "cling" theses). I think he's talking mainly about migration--the unemployed workers who voted Democratic in the 1980s have simply left, leaving behind older voters who are more content living where they are living. It's a sorting out frustration-reducing process, not a prosperity-driven frustration-reducing process. Either way, it's not the "cling" process that Obama is imagining (though in the absence of real prosperity some "clinging" could be going on too). ... P.S.: But it's mainly happening in Western PA's Pittsburgh suburbs. In the 2004 presidential race, rural towns seem to have remained pro-Republican by about the same margin as in 1988. ...

Update: Alter Untanked Jon Alter  agrees with "M," not Obama:

[i]t turns out that working-class Americans have not left the Democratic Party, except in the South, where practically everyone except the black community has turned Republican. In the north, as Princeton political scientist Larry M. Bartels establishes in an important new book, "Unequal Democracy," working-class voters have actually been trending Democratic in recent elections, which helps explain why longtime bellwether states like Illinois and Pennsylvania have been more reliably blue. According to Bartels, more affluent voters are the ones who have been swayed by social issues like abortion and guns. Working-class voters, he writes, are still motivated by economics.

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5:06 A.M. link

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Suicide Marketing! Has Microsoft hit on a brilliant new sales strategy? Here's how it's done: First, you screw up your major product, replacing it with a fancier version that is widely derided and universally regarded as inferior to its main competitor. But--key point--you keep selling the old, popular product. Then you announce that you'll stop selling the popular product on June 30. This causes a predictable--and highly profitable--surge in sales. ("Last chance to buy Windows XP!") You pocket the millions from those sales, but then at the last minute announce a reprieve. Bowing to customer demand you'll keep selling XP--until you need another little boost in the bottom line, when you will announce once again that you're killing it after a date certain. Last last chance! Really. We mean it this time! Then another reprieve, and another deadline, and another surge of panic buying, etc.--on and on, seemingly ad infinitum (at least if you are a monopoly player like Microsoft). ...

It seems like a can't-lose approach for the Redmond, Wash. firm, as long as a) they continue to cultivate the image of a big, clumsy and greedy organization that's just stupid enough to kill a product consumers like in order to try to force them to purchase a product the corporate bureaucracy has ploddingly disgorged and b) their new products continue to be awful.

There hasn't been a breakthrough business plan like this since New Coke. "Suicide marketing." (Buy this before we do something rash!) ...

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