By Raynard Jackson
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been the talk of the political world for the past week. He won reelection with more than 60 percent of the vote. The coalition he put together is unheard of in today’s political climate where Republicans routinely right off significant parts of the electorate. This failed approach leaves little room for electoral error and is the biggest reason why Republicans have lost two successive presidential elections. Christie has shown the Republican Party a path towards electoral victory if they would adopt his approach.
Exit polls revealed that Christie:
- Won among both men and women: 63 percent of men and 57 percent of women;
- Won 21 percent of Black voters;
- Won 51 percent of the Hispanic vote
- Won nearly every education level and income group;
- Won 32 percent of the Democratic vote;
- Won 66 percent of independents and 61 percent of moderates.
Christie took his governing philosophy, his personality, and his blunt honesty to the market place of ideas and won convincingly.
Too many D.C. pundits are totally missing the point behind the Christie phenomenon. In a capitalist society, the market place responds to what is appealing or unappealing to it. Regardless of what you think about Christie on a philosophical scale, the marketplace of New Jersey responded to his message.
Many pundits attributed Christie’s remarkable success to voters in New Jersey being stupid. In other words, they didn’t know who or what they were voting for. If talking heads want to know who’s stupid, they need only to look in the mirror.
The truth is people in New Jersey voted for someone who diminished union influence in education, who is against homosexual marriage, pro-Second Amendment, pro-life, supports lower taxes, etc.
I am a native of St. Louis and no matter how great my analysis of the recently completed World Series, nothing can change the fact that Boston won. The same is true with Christie. Politics is all about winning, not making a statement.
In additional to his enormous political skills, Christie was aided by Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman, Reince Priebus, who engineered the Growth and Opportunity Project, a program with the goal of getting more Blacks and Latinos engaged with the Republican Party.
In applied research, you take the best of what was discovered in the laboratory during the basic research phase and apply that to real world situations (elections). This will lead to empirical data that will either support or reject your findings in the laboratory.
In this sense, Priebus and Christie are Siamese twins, tied at the hip. Priebus and the RNC provided Christie and his campaign with a lot of basic research. Christie was politically astute enough to take this information and incorporate it into his campaign strategy.
In addition, Priebus put 33 fulltime staffers on the ground in New Jersey earlier this year with instructions to engage with people of color. The GOP put about $ 2.5 million into this race.
I had a private conversation with Christie back in March about the Black vote. He said all the right things (as they always do when I discuss the Black community with them). He only received 9 percent of the Black vote in 2009 and he told me that he would build better relations with the Black community as governor. I will clean up my language considerably, but I looked him in the eye and asked him very bluntly if he was serious or just blowing smoke at me? He literally pulled me nose to nose with him and said, “Brother, I got you. I don’t BS. Now I want to introduce you to my campaign chairman, Bill Palatucci. The two of you should get together and discuss this.” Within 30 days, the meeting took place.
Priebus can provide all the basic research in the world, but it’s up to the candidate to take advantage of what the chairman is doing.
So, to all the pundits who are trying to discredit Priebus and Christie, stop. They devised and executed a winning strategy. If you have a better way of putting together the coalition that Priebus and Christie did, then I am all ears.
Blacks will vote for a Republican, but they want to be listened to and not talked to. They want to feel like their concerns are important to the Republican Party. The election in New Jersey sent a message to Republican candidates who want to broaden their voting base: Take Christie model, personalize and adapt it as needed. Those who copy the New Jersey model can be victorious. Those who insist on going the Tea Party route are likely to suffer the same fate as state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli , who lost his bid to become governor.
Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm. He can be reached through his Web site, www.raynardjackson.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at raynard1223.