Having spent a career closely watching the numbers, veteran Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg, who advised Bill Clinton in his 1992 victory, sees a nation entrenched into two opposing ideological camps, neither side getting much done. And so he presents solutions, of course to Democrats but also Republicans if they care to read the book, on how to break the gridlock and solidify power. Greenberg offers a history lesson, showing how for the last 50 years, neither party has had a solid grip on power and, as a result, lacked the mandate to lead. Instead, both fire up their base of supporters and scrap for small electoral groups in order to give them a tiny majority among national office holders. Armed with history and voluminous statistical data, Greenberg identifies the core constituencies of each party and assigns them catchy names in order to make his analysis more entertaining and easier to follow. The Republicans' base includes such groups as the "F-You Old Men," white blue-collar seniors with no college education, while over on the left side, the Democrats are anchored by groups like the "Secular Warriors," people who rarely attend church and don't own guns. Extensive polling took place in three communities that are battlegrounds on the electoral map and all three receive catchy nicknames as well: "Tampa Blue" (working class Florida), "The Heartland" (Iowa farm country), and "Eastside Tech" (the white-collar tech-heavy suburbs east of Seattle). After reading the pulse of these representative voters, Greenberg recommends the GOP offer up a second-generation Reagan campaign, emphasizing hope, independence, and industriousness. For the Democrats, his suggestions include taking classic Democratic themes of opportunity and equality and updating to encompass modern issues like environmental and health care concerns. This book was released in the early stages of the 2004 Democratic primaries and in the early going, the successful candidates seemed to be embracing Greenberg's notions, hoping to unseat a President Bush a second time. --John Moe
From Publishers Weekly
Pollster Greenberg (Middle Class Dreams), who was part of Bill Clinton's victorious "war room" team during the 1992 presidential campaign, is dissatisfied with the country's political split down the middle and has ideas for how to break the Democratic/Republican impasse. He considers the last, embattled presidential election "just the current moment in an era of political deadlock" stretching back to the Eisenhower administration, a half-century in which the two parties have traded power back and forth unable to form a lasting dynasty. The 2004 election, he says, promises to be just as competitive. Analyzing each party's potential, Greenberg breaks down their loyalists into identifiable factions, like "F-You Boys" (Deep Southern white male blue-collar workers who "think President George W. Bush is their guy") and "Super-Educated Women" (Democratic loyalists though their husbands, "Privileged Men," are Republicans), Then Greenberg closely examines three regional blocs that may be up for grabs: he calls them Tampa Blue, Seattle's Eastside Tech and Heartland Iowa. In the second half of the book, he imagines how party leaders might plan to keep or retake the White House. His analysis of the GOP's strategy to present Bush as the carefully scrubbed "Reagan's Son" seems dead-on. Several possible strategies are described for Democrats, but his clear preference is for putting a 21st-century spin on the values and agenda of the Kennedy-Johnson era, with such talking points as universal health care and education, tax reform, even a new "Apollo project" to tackle energy security and global warming. Intricate strategic analysis and close attention to a wavering electorate make this political handbook stand out from the pack.
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