Messaging #Fail

The flap this week over state Rep. Patsy Keever's response(s) to a reporter's question about endorsing the president's reelection raises questions. I don't know how widespread it is outside North Carolina, but Democratic congressional candidates in NC-07, 08 and 11 have explicitly refused to endorse a sitting president from their own party: "I'm going to Washington to represent the voters of my district," yadda, yadda. Whatever.

I get the whole impulse to appeal to the thin slice of "independents" upon whom the November elections supposedly will turn, but whom do they think they're fooling?

Second, even as candidates think they are telling voters "I am my own person," if it's not done with finesse, they risk voters actually hearing  "I'm only in this for Number One."

Third, if their aim is to appeal to self-described independents, disillusioned Republicans and ConservaDems in GOP-leaning districts, most will be voters with a more dominant Strict Father model (see Lakoff) in them than Democratic base voters. Whatever they tell pollsters about distrusting both parties, they are more likely to be "fall in line" types than "fall in love" types. And at heart, alone in the voting booth, team players who value loyalty.

So, in an election already more about turnout than persuasion, why do campaigns (or their consultants, more likely) think proudly declaring that these "independent Democrats" won't even play for their own team is the smart bet for getting such voters to turn out for them?

(Cross-posted from Scrutiny Hooligans.)