Rory McShane sat down with the Las Vegas Review-Journal for an in-depth interview on what moves non-partisan voters. Check out the video clip below.


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Article by Rory Appleton

“Rory McShane started his namesake Las Vegas consultancy two years ago, after nearly a decade working on Republican campaigns as an employee of larger firms.

For years, McShane said, campaigns have fumbled by using complex messaging. He pointed to the “simple storyboard” of recent presidential elections as examples of proper messaging.

“You have a hero, you have a villain and you have a problem,” McShane said.

In 2004, the problem was the world is unsafe. The villain was Osama bin Laden, and the hero is “cowboy George W. Bush.”

In 2008, Washington was stuck in the mud with political insiders. The Bush family and Washington establishment were the enemy, and Barack Obama emerged as the hero, promising hope and change.

This storyboard, McShane said, is fanned out a little differently for nonpartisans, but it is the same simple narrative.

President Donald Trump won over independent voters in 2016 by portraying “the swamp” as the problem, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as its spokesperson and villain, and promising to “kick it all over” to solve the problem.

Beyond a simple core message, tailoring other messages to nonpartisans can often fail to bear fruit, McShane said, because the ideological spectrum of nonpartisans is too large.

He believes data is the better approach.

Consumer data can form models based on nonpartisans who are easily identified as conservatives and add them, in terms of predicting an election, into the Republican base — once the sole focus of Republican campaigns, McShane said.

“If somebody is a registered nonpartisan, and they subscribe to Field and Stream magazine, and they drive a Ford F-150, and they’re a white male who carries a platinum American Express, we need to make sure that person gets to the polls, because they’re probably voting Republican,” McShane said.

Trying to persuade voters to match your candidate’s viewpoint is a dying strategy, McShane said. In the ’80s and ’90s, an entire campaign would be centered on persuasion with only about three days set aside for getting out the vote.

“The amount of money that Republicans have poured down the drain trying to convince moderate, suburban voters is absolutely disgusting,” McShane said.

Now, McShane said the campaign’s time should break down as: 40 percent registering and mobilizing base and like-minded nonpartisans, 40 percent getting those folks to the polls and 20 percent trying to persuade those on the fence or on the other side.”

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