During last week’s election campaign has shifted back to the Supreme Court: the passing sentences about the Immigration law of the State of Arizona and the Health Care reform law, have set the agenda of the candidates and will have electoral consequences.
Both teams had ready the spin-machinery when the decision was made public, to influence the interpretation the media would do about the decisions and win voters perceptions.
Obviously the focus of interest was on the possibility the Court defeat Health-Care reform, President Obama’s most flagship. The teams booked the appearance of both leaders for the occasion.
Let’s take a look what happened last week:
- The Arizona -other states like Alabama want to copy it- anti-immigration bill, appealed by the White House: the High Court supports the Federal Government ruling that “States can not act neither establish their foreign policy own priorities for law enforcement … by themselves“, nor may “approve special penalties for illegal immigrants” rejecting “criminal measures for illegal immigrants looking for work“.
However the Supreme Court saves the Section 2(B) of the law allowing Police officers to request documentation of the people stopped and “are likely not to have their papers in order“: the full racial discrimination.
Republicans and Democrats made public statements on both respective Core values laid strong emphasis on:
- In the case of Mitt Romney: “States have the right and obligation to secure its borders.”
- In the case of Obama: “No citizens should ever live under suspicion due to their appearance.”
“Tough” immigration positioning is likely to be -again- the Achilles Heel for Republicans, distancing them from the center, even of independent and latino voters. The GOP is unable to agree on a focused approach that can be taken for the whole Party. Still they try to introduce its most friendly face on immigration they have: the “candidate” for vice-president Florida’s Senator Marco Rubio. But the result is defensive and anything but clear.
Obviously the Court’s decision in Arizona and other border states where the immigration debate really is intense, mobilizes the Republican base, the vigilantes and the Cause fundraising.
On the other hand Democrats are more opened-arms to latino voters, strengthening President Obama commitment to stop deportations of young Hispanic students.
- The Affordable Care Act (ACA), the healthcare reform bill, has received the Supreme Court’s constitutional placet, although FOX and CNN reported the opposite when the decision went public.
A law that has been fought by land sea and air political -Congress and Senate Republicans blocked and filibuster it-, economic -the most important lobby Operation that history has ever known until today, with oceans of funding from pharmaceutical and healthcare industry, the US Chamber of Commerce and some Wall Street key players- and legally -once approved the law was appealed in many instances “inspired” by the GOP, until arriving at the Supreme Court.
President W. Bush appointee Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. broke the tie between the other members of the Court. The legal debate has been reduced to whether the obligation to health insurance is a mandate or a tax. The political debate is a triumph of the president, as its flagship legislation is consecrated, and a huge defeat of corporate interests.
Once issued the decision of the Court began the battle to win the perception of citizens. Both teams were prepared and the reactions started the PR campaign, contact the major media journalists, bloggers and influencers. State campaigns in started calling for press and began again the eternal conversation between the two Americas to impose their view to the majority of voters and especially to weaken the opponent.
This process has its climax with the public appearance of the two most important leaders: the president and the candidate:
President public statement. Source: www.whitehouse.gov
Mitt Romney’s public statement. Source: www.cspan.org
Again the frames struggle: Hope vs. Fear. This battle to win voters frames still continues today and still will through the Media, Campaigns and the Web, although with less intensity.
The Court’s decision consolidates the Democratic campaign and is a major setback in the Republican field. Paradoxically, the Republican base has come far more excited and mobilized in this decision than Democrats.
The Republican Media and Political establishment went hardliners to condemn the decision and make the president responsible: from Sarah Palin to Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove as the CongressMen/Women, Senators, Governors Senior Republicans. The result: $ 3 million in donations for the Romney campaign.
And what about the Democrats? Two days after the decision they reach $ 1 million fundraised. Governing means disenchanting different groups of voters; the achievement record is not enough to probe leadership & to win the voters hearts and respect; more demanding pressure to the president may explain why Democrats are not willing to wake up and mobilize.
Once the initial ignition excitement chillaxed and calmed down and the social impact is settled down different swing-states surveys confirms the president is getting more approvals.
Republicans are more willing to get burst and emotionally ignited reaction, while the Democrats and Independents are more rational and based on calm valued decisions that are shaping this campaign.
Final: devastating fires in Colorado. The president has gone. He stood up with the residents affected. Has put more pressure on the responsible agencies to begin to view results for aid and reconstruction.
In these Spanish latitudes it seems that Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy prefers a football game to follow Obama’s example.
- The Chief Justice, by David Brooks.
- Obamacare SCOTUS decision, via The Economist.
- Senator John McCain press release at SCOTUS decision on Obamacare.
- The SCOTUS decision and the Campaign, by George Lakoff.
@aleixcuberes is an @ingenia_pro partner & consultant