There’s An Interesting Mix Of Political Messaging Out This Week

As we’re now less than a month out from the Iowa caucuses, the presidential campaigns are popping out ads in full campaign mode, and some of them are actually interesting to watch.

The best of them? Probably this one on immigration from Ted Cruz, if for no other reason that how well-shot it is and how provocative…

Cruz’ take on immigration is a lot fresher than a lot of the other GOP candidates, and it’s of a piece with a number of his other statements in that he can attract some support across the aisle with what he’s saying. Cruz is speaking to a downscale audience with this ad and its presentation of the issue is an awful lot like what Democrats used to say.

It used to be that Democrats opposed mass immigration because it drove down wages for working-class people. That was before Democrats gave up on trying to understand economics and fully embraced identity politics as their electoral salvation. But there are lots of members of the Democrat Party’s electoral coalition who know that Democrat policy doesn’t work for them; they might have voted for Ronald Reagan if they’d been of voting age when he was running, but they won’t vote Republican now because they believe what Democrats have said about Republicans; they’re corporate stooges out to screw regular people. And of course the GOP in Washington has played into that narrative again and again.

So when Cruz comes along and uses immigration as a finger in the eye of the ruling class, playing a little bit of class warfare against lawyers and journalists, it’s a much different presentation than we usually see from the GOP. It’s an attention-getter, and it will play well in “flyover country” while irritating the elites. That’s what Cruz wants, because it’s a key to building a Reagan-style coalition across party lines and winning the general election. Particularly when he’d be up against Hillary Clinton, the Wall Street puppet who has engaged in more graft and inside dealing through the Clinton Foundation than any candidate in history.

Some of this positioning sounds similar to what Donald Trump has been doing, and we’ll get to Trump in a minute. But it’s also exactly the same strategy Rick Santorum has been operating under since 2012, and Cruz has largely stolen Santorum’s vote particularly in Iowa. As such, Santorum – and Mike Huckabee, who was Santorum before Santorum and for some reason is still running for president now – has embarked on a campaign to discredit Cruz.

Here’s a Santorum ad that tries to make the case Cruz is a lightweight. It’s interesting that his people think this would work…

FairyTales from Santorum for President 2016 on Vimeo.

We already know that appeals to the voters based on how “serious” the old-school candidates are compared to the anti-establishment ones are ineffective. The mood of the GOP electorate is that the “serious” candidates have failed to arrest the country’s decline and a new approach is the only hope. That’s why Jeb Bush, who is dumping most of his planned advertising, has been spinning his wheels with ads like these about what a bad-ass leader he is…

In a different cycle that might be an effective message, but nobody is interested in Jeb Bush this cycle and his campaign is likely going to be over within 60 days.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s first TV ad is out and his approach is pure Politics For Dummies…

The message is as simple as it could be – radical Islam is a threat, so no more Muslims admitted into the country until it isn’t, it’s time to kill ISIS and we’ll build a wall and make the Mexicans pay for it. None of this is anywhere near as simple as it sounds, and none of it works as actual policy, but the sentiment behind it finds purchase with lots of people and what makes it effective is it’s a great bit of trolling against the ruling class – because anybody who criticizes Trump’s sentiments as policy ideas gets hit with a true statement; namely that their program of open borders and coddling of jihadists isn’t really working out so well.

The race, at least in Iowa, is shaping up to be a competition to position oneself as the most effective outsider in the field. And Trump and Cruz are emerging as the choices of a majority of the electorate as a result of that messaging.



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