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Dueling RNC/DNC memos

From NBC's Mark Murray and Caroline Gransee
As we previewed earlier today, the Republican National Committee is releasing a memo that highlights what it sees as the Democratic Party's disunity, as well as the fact that Obama seems to be limping across the primary finish line.

Well, the DNC is responding with its own memo. "Despite having months to solidify support, shore up his base, raise money, and formulate a plan for the general election, John McCain is still struggling as a presidential candidate," the memo reads. "He continues to trail our Democratic candidates in the polls, is on the wrong side of the issues, and with staff shakeups has a campaign in disarray. And as voters show they want change, McCain continues to offer more of the same failed Bush policies."

Below are the full memos...

The RNC Memo


To: Interested Parties
From: RNC
Date: 6/3/2008
RE: Democrat Disunity

Following all the uncertainty surrounding Barack Obama's path to becoming the presumptive Democrat nominee, Obama is now faced with two very clear certainties as he "wheeze[s]", as The New York Times puts it, across the finish line.  First, he will inherit a fractured party that is deeply divided over his role as standard-bearer and his ability to be President.  Second, he will inherit a national party apparatus that has been significantly outraised throughout the cycle.

Here are the facts:

* Nearly 18 million voters in the Democrat Party's nominating process felt that Obama was not the best candidate to be President.  The number of ballots cast against Obama in 2008 exceeds the number of total ballots cast in each of the last four Democrat Presidential primary cycles.

* Obama is not wearing well as a candidate and has lost momentum since his high point in February.  The more people learn about him and his views, the less they support him.  Since March 4, he has lost a majority of primaries to Senator Clinton, including the all-important states of Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and West Virginia.  He lost Kentucky by 35 points, West Virginia by 41 points, and suffered a 36-point defeat in Puerto Rico.  Were it not for the Democratic proportional system of delegate allocation, these devastating defeats might very well have derailed his nomination. 
* Obama has failed in key battleground states.  States like New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia are critical to success in the fall, and Democrat voters there felt that he was not the best candidate for their Party or the office.  Furthermore, his failure to seriously compete in Florida and Michigan has left Democrat voters there skeptical of his commitment to them.

* Obama will not be able in the general election to count on many of the states that fueled his primary campaign.  Recent public polling shows Obama losing to John McCain in at least half of the states that he won in the Democrat primaries.

* Obama faces difficulties defending key states that were won by John Kerry and Al Gore in the last two Presidential elections.  Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania are each polling competitively or in favor of McCain, as is New Hampshire, which voted in favor of John Kerry in 2004. 

* McCain is attracting large numbers of Democrat voters, which significantly undermines Obama's base.  The most recent Newsweek poll (5/23) shows 19% of Democrats favoring McCain over Obama, and 7% undecided.  By contrast, Obama only attracts 7% of GOP voters, with only 4% undecided.

* According to May data from Rasmussen Reports, one quarter of Democrats trust McCain more than Obama on the issues of the Economy (25%) and National Security (28%) – as compared to only 13% and 7% of Republicans (respectively) who trust Obama more.   Similarly, less than two thirds of Democrats trust Obama more on the issues of the war in Iraq (66%) and Taxes (64%).
* A recent poll by Pew in May shows that fewer than half (46%) of Clinton supporters expect the Democrat party to "unite solidly behind" Obama – down from 58% in March.
* Obama's primary election coalition of urban voters, young voters, ideologically liberal voters, and elites is far too narrow to sustain him amid a center-right general election electorate.  His coalition more resembles the losing coalitions of John Kerry, Michael Dukakis, and George McGovern than it does a supposedly new type of candidate with broad appeal.
* Many key constituencies that are necessary for a winning coalition in November have voted overwhelmingly against Obama in the Democrat primaries.  Obama has time and time again failed to connect with rural voters, union voters, Catholic voters, senior voters, Hispanic voters, and women.

* Despite raising a record amount of money in the primaries, Obama has also spent the most of any candidate to get to this point.  Together with the DNC he will begin the next phase of the campaign with less cash on hand than Senator McCain's campaign and the RNC.

* The DNC itself faces nearly a 9:1 cash-on-hand disadvantage versus the RNC.

* And this leads us to the DNC rules committee meeting on Saturday when the Democrat party leadership again failed to promote the unity that their party desperately lacks.   Howard Dean's fractious meeting of party elders seems a fitting exclamation point to this year's Democrat primary season.

The DNC Memo

To: Interested Parties
From: DNC Communications
Date: June 3, 2008
Re: Forecast for John McCain: Dim
Despite having months to solidify support, shore up his base, raise money, and formulate a plan for the general election, John McCain is still struggling as a presidential candidate. He continues to trail our Democratic candidates in the polls, is on the wrong side of the issues, and with staff shakeups has a campaign in disarray. And as voters show they want change, McCain continues to offer more of the same failed Bush policies. Below are key facts that together show one thing is clear: the forecast for John McCain this

November is dim.

McCain Is Having Trouble Solidifying His Base

• Buyer's Remorse? McCain Has Nomination Locked Up, But One Third Of Republican Primary Voters Still Pick Another Candidate. Even after locking up the Republican nomination, nearly a third of Republican voters in Idaho last week voted for another Republican candidate. Nearly 38,000 voters came out for another candidate, 6 percent voting uncommitted and 24 percent supporting Ron Paul—his best showing yet. [Boston Globe, 5/28/08]

• Business Leaders Not Backing McCain. A recent report in the Wall Street Journal showed that McCain's fundraising among business leaders, a key constituency for Republican candidates, has lagged. In fact, McCain had raised only $13.1 million from seven major industries through February of this year, while both Obama and Clinton had raised over $20 million each. Now, the WSJ said, the "Republican standard-bearer's attempt to claw back financial support from the GOP's business base could be a pivotal factor in determining the outcome of the presidential race." [Wall Street Journal, 4/2/08]

• Evangelicals Still Not Rallying Behind McCain. According to a recent column by Robert Novak, McCain still "has a problem of disputed dimensions with a vital component of the conservative coalition: evangelicals" and that "[s]ome U.S. Christians are not reconciled to McCain's candidacy." And while he is winning the evangelical base, his lead is 22 points less than Bush's advantage with evangelicals versus Kerry in 2004. [Washington Post, 5/12/08; LCG Election Monitor Blog, 6/2/08]

• In Home State, McCain Can't Rally Republicans. After representing Arizona for more than two decades McCain won just 47 percent of the vote in his home state's February 5 primary and turned in big losses in two other potential swing states that surround Arizona. And a new poll out last month showed that McCain "could face a tough fight in his home state." His lead was described as "narrow for a 'favorite son'...running in a state he has long represented in Congress" by the research director for the center that conducted the poll. [cnn.com, accessed 5/13/08; East Valley Tribune, 5/22/08]

• Republican Voters Looking For Alternatives. McCain's lack of appeal to conservative voters has brought in not one, but two alternative candidates. Bob Barr, a former Republican and Georgia Congressman, is now running for president as a Libertarian, saying that McCain is a "'status quo' candidate." Barr also said that people voting for him "would not likely fall into the category of people who would be enthused about voting for John McCain —if such exists." Similarly, Ron Paul's continued presence in the race and support at the polls shows that many Republicans are looking for an alternative to McCain. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/13/08; cnn.com, accessed 5/13/08]

McCain and Republicans Are Struggling With Key Constituencies
• Among White Voters…White voters are key to a Republican victory, but while Bush took the white vote 58 percent to Kerry's 41 percent in 2004, McCain only has an advantage of two points among white voters. [LCG Election Monitor Blog, 6/2/08]

• Among Hispanic Voters…Two out of three Hispanics call themselves Democrats. A

December Pew Hispanic Center survey found "57% of Hispanic registered voters now call themselves Democrats or say they lean to the Democratic Party, while just 23% align with the Republican Party -- meaning there is now a 34-percentage-point gap in partisan affiliation among Latinos." [Pew Hispanic Center, 12/06/07]

O Republicans losing ground with Hispanics. "Latino support for Republican candidates dropped from roughly 40% in 2004 to 30% in 2006, while 69% of Latinos voted for Democrats in 2006." According to a survey of under-30 Americans Latinos preferred a Democrat for president in 2008 by a margin of 42 percentage points." The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, a conservative and president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, summed it up by telling CNN that the immigration issue has been a "debacle" for Republicans, and asked, "Who's responsible? The Republican National Party. Who will pay in the 2008 elections? The Republican National Party." As Rodriguez noted, "Will Latinos be able to look at John McCain and say we're gonna support the party because of you and in spite of your party?" [CNN.com, 2/15/08; [Houston Chronicle, 9/9/07]

• Among Independents…McCain is trailing among Independents by 8 points, prompting one Republican strategist to write that McCain's high favorability rating among Independents "is not translating into actual votes at this point in time." [LCG Election Monitor Blog, 6/2/08]

• Among Young People…According to Politico.com, "Recent polling suggests McCain faces an uphill battle with young voters." The article cites April surveys by both MTV and the Harvard Institute of Politics showing McCain losing young voters to both Clinton and Obama by significant margins. [Politico.com, 5/19/08]

• Among Men…Though male voters are key to Republicans making up for the disadvantage they face with female voters, according to a Republican strategist "McCain is not doing well enough among men to bridge the historical gender gap with women." [LCG Election Monitor Blog, 6/2/08]

• Among Veterans…Having "voted for veterans funding bills only 30% of the time, according to a scorecard of roll-call votes put out by the nonpartisan Disabled Americans for America," McCain has pitted himself against the veterans community by refusing to support the 21st Century GI Bill to help veterans and service members pay for college. [time.com; 5/20/08]

In Latest Polls McCain Is Losing To Both Democratic Candidates
• Since Clinching the Nomination, McCain Has Actually Lost Ground To Both Democratic Candidates. Instead of rising in the polls after clinching the nomination,

McCain has actually lost ground to both candidates. An LA Times/Bloomberg poll out last month showed both Obama and Clinton beating John McCain, a shift from February when McCain was beating both candidates. And a new USA Today/Gallup Poll shows both Democratic candidates beating John McCain in head-to-head match-ups. [LA

Times/Bloomberg Poll, May 1-8, 2008; USA Today, 6/2/08]

• McCain Losing In Purple States Against Democrats. A recent Gallup poll shows McCain trailing Democrats with "purple" state voters—voters in states that were competitive in 2004. Both Democratic candidates beat John McCain 47 percent to 43 percent among voters in states where either John Kerry or George W. Bush won by five points or less in 2004. Voters in these states made up 31 percent of the electorate in 2004 and include New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Florida, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Oregon—key pick-ups for any candidate in November. [Gallup, 4/17/08]

GOP Brand Is Damaged

• Republicans Losing In Key Congressional Races. Three straight special election victories for Democrats this year in heavily Republican districts show, according to NRCC Chairman Tom Cole, that "[t]he political environment is such that voters remain pessimistic about the direction of the country and the Republican Party in general…" Victories by Democratic candidates Travis Childers in Mississippi, Don Cazayoux in Louisiana, and Bill Foster in former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert's seat in Illinois indicate that Republicans are facing a difficult political climate all across the country. [Washington Post, 5/14/08]

• Americans Have Unfavorable View of Republicans. A New York Times/CBS News poll out in May shows Americans have a more favorable view of the Democratic Party than the Republican Party—52 percent to just 33 percent. [New York Times/CBS News Poll, April 25-29, 2008] And in a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, nearly half of respondents asked—48 percent—had a negative view of the Republican Party. [NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll, April 25-28, 2008]

• Republicans Less Trusted On the Issues. Americans trust Democrats over Republicans 53 percent to 32 percent "to do a better job in coping with the main problems the nation faces over the next few years." In addition, "Democrats are trusted more than Republicans on eight out of ten electoral issues" tracked by Rasmussen and even "[a]mong voters not affiliated with either major political party." [Washington Post-ABC News Poll, May 8-11, 2008; Rasmussen Reports, 6/3/08]

• Bush Most Unpopular President In History. According to a recent Gallup poll, 69 percent of Americans now disapprove of the job President Bush is doing—the highest of any president in the history of the Gallup Poll. [Gallup, 4/22/08]

McCain On the Wrong Side of the Issues

• Economy and Iraq Top Issues This Election. 56 percent of voters see the economy as the top issue this election, and 34 percent see the war in Iraq as the top issue, according to a recent LA Times/Bloomberg poll. [LA Times/Bloomberg Poll, May 1-8, 2008]

o McCain Is Not Trusted To Handle The Economy. A new Reuters/Zogby poll from May shows both Obama and Clinton beating McCain when voters were asked who would better manage the economy. [Reuters, 5/21/08]

o Americans Think McCain Is Wrong On Iraq. In a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, more than a third—36 percent—of respondents believe McCain has the "wrong approach" on "dealing with the situation in Iraq." [NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll, April 25-28, 2008] In a New York Times/CBS poll, 62 percent of respondents want the next President to "try to end the Iraq war within the next year or two, no matter what," something McCain has not promoted. [New York Times/CBS News Poll, April 25-29, 2008]

• Voters Are Not Happy With the Direction of Our Country. In a Washington Post-ABC News poll, 82 percent of voters think the country "have gotten pretty seriously off on the wrong track"—the same track McCain would keep us on. [Washington Post-ABC News Poll, May 8-11, 2008]

o Americans Think McCain Offers A Third Bush Term. When asked what McCain will do if he is elected president, nearly half—48 percent—of respondents said he would "generally continue George W. Bush's policies." [New York Times/CBS News Poll, April 25-29, 2008]

McCain's Ties to Bush Pose Huge Liability With Voters
• McCain's Offer Of A Third Bush Term Set To Be Biggest Issue Of the Campaign. In a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll the issue of greatest concern to voters was that "John McCain will be too closely aligned with the Bush agenda. He has voted eighty-nine percent of the time for the Bush administration's programs." In fact, 43 percent of respondents ranked this as a "major concern." [NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll, April 25-28, 2008]

McCain Campaign In Disarray
• Republicans Worried McCain Staff's Lobbying Ties Are Undercutting McCain's Message. According to the New York Times, "In interviews, some party leaders said they were worried about signs of disorder in his campaign, and if the focus in the last several weeks on the prominent role of lobbyists in Mr. McCain's inner circle might undercut the heart of his general election message: that he is a reformer taking on special interests in Washington." [New York Times, 5/25/08]

• McCain Staff Defections Over Lobbying Are Disrupting McCain Campaign. The Politico wrote, "The McCain campaign, already facing the prospect of being badly outgunned in the general election, now also must cope with the disruption of the lobbying shakeout." [Politico, 5/18/08]