I generally assume that Republicans really know how to put across a message, but I'm looking at stories about the convention and stories about the undecided voters, particularly this one, and I'm not sure I get it:
Forget NASCAR dads and soccer moms. This is the year of the undecided woman.
... about 60 percent of voters who have not yet made up their minds about [Kerry and Bush] are women. And a large majority of those women say neither man is addressing the issues they care about most.
By 5 percentage points, more men say the country is going in the wrong direction than that it is going in the right direction. But when women are asked the same question, that spread runs to 24 percentage points in favor of those who believe that it is headed wrong.
[Pollster Vincent] Breglio said that while the general electorate views the war in Iraq and the economy as the two major issues for voters, undecided women regard the crucial issues as equivalent pay with their male co-workers, violence against women, loss of jobs to workers overseas, access to child care and health care and the costs of both.
... As for Iraq, women generally are 20 percentage points more likely than men to say the war there has not been worth the cost.
By now we can all recite the list of key speakers -- McCain, Giuliani, Schwarzenegger -- and we know what the key fact about them is supposed to be: they're all moderates.
But they're all macho men. They're all action heroes. Every one of them is best known for courage in some form of battle. (Yeah, Schwarzenegger's battles are fictitious, but this is America, so that doesn't really matter.)
If you thought Boston was a tad martial, if you thought there was somewhat of an excess of testosterone at the Fleet Center, if you thought domestic concerns got short shrift and the need to "stay the course" got undue emphasis, you ain't seen nothin' yet.
Is Giuliani going to talk about domestic violence, outsourcing, health insurance? No. He'll get misty-eyed about 9/11, then he'll say this:
"Winston Churchill saw the dangers of Hitler when his opponents and much of the press characterized him as a warmongering gadfly," Mr. Giuliani plans to say, according to excerpts from his speech released last night. "George W. Bush sees world terrorism for the evil that it is, and he will remain consistent to the purpose of defeating it while working to make us ever safer at home."
Yeah, that's really going to mean a lot to a 43-year-old divorced mom with two kids who works at a Wal-Mart in Wisconsin.
Schwarzenegger will -- I'm really going out on a limb here -- make the centerpiece of his speech some devastatingly clever (and perhaps repeated) use of one or more forms of the word "terminate." Affordable child care will not figure prominently in his speech.
And even nice-guy McCain is likely to declare war on Kerry, attacking him as a potential war president.
Throw in newly converted mouthpiece for right-wing boilerplate Zell Miller, tough old buzzard Cheney, veteran culture warrior Lynne Cheney, and Flight Suit W himself, and I'm wondering if this could be a near-rerun of the GOP's disastrous 1992 sounded-better-in-the-original-German convention in spite of itself.
Any talk about the economy will be boasting about all the lousy jobs Bush has created this year; you may even hear talk about a sustained period of strong growth, as if the downsized give a crap about GDP.
The problem is that the GOP doesn't have anybody who talks about domestic issues with any credibility. Voters found Reagan persuasive on the kitchen-table stuff, but now there's no one.
I know 9/11 supposedly Changed Everything, but it really didn't. People go to work and buy school supplies and pay bills every day. Kerry may have paraded too many uniforms on the stage in Boston, but nobody's going to out-macho the GOP. And that really might be a huge mistake.