Winning on issues

At Communities Digital News this week, I opined that Democrats and their left-tilting interest group allies are probably hard at work on issues that straddle the line between news and pop culture to identify voters early on who might be receptive to campaign messages next year. The article talks about wages, religious freedom, and police-involved shootings as the primary opportunities.

If it hadn’t been for the Rolling Stone debacle, the broad umbrella (no pun intended) of women’s issues might make the list – and it might still, once the concern over shoddy journalism evaporates.

The point is, grassroots campaigns need hooks that bring in voters who wouldn’t otherwise show up. Whichever side does a better job finding and using them will have an easier time of it next year.

Super PACs and RFRA

Over at Communities Digital News, I look at how super PACs and other outside groups can spend a little bit smarter for 2016 than they have in past election cycles by using state policy issue campaigns to identify voters and crystallize messages. This business in Indiana is a good example. People are talking about the Hoosier state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, one way or another, and that means it’s an organizing opportunity.

For the sake of illustration, let’s oversimply the sides in this. Broadly, we can divide the sides into three camps:

  1. The Anti-RFRA Left: We’ve heard plenty from these folks.
  2. The Pro-RFRA Right: People who, whether or not they dig gay marriage, think its ok to let people make their own choices.
  3. Those who are uncomfortable with RFRA: This is the audience in the middle – the ones made uneasy by the comparisons to pre-1960s segregation laws.

All three of these groups are important to identify. Group 2 offers activists, campaign volunteers, potential donors, and highly probable voters. But messages to Group 3 are important. If this group is uncomfortable with RFRA now, they will be similarly uncomfortable when Democrat allies smear the eventual Republican nominee as anti-gay in 18 months. Republicans and conservative outside groups need to start talking to this group now.