Monday, November 29, 2004

Updated November 29, 2004 at 1:20 pm
Giangreco blames it all on non-college women and an elitist candidate.
Tonight’s City of Chicago edition of “Public Affairs,” airing at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21[CANTV], throughout the City of Chicago, features Pete Giangreco discussing with host Jeff Berkowitz why Senator Kerry lost, or if you prefer, why President Bush won, with the Democrats, saying, once again, “Houston, we got a problem.”
Pete Giangreco: …it came down to these non-college women who looked at the thing, who broke at the end and decided that they were going to vote on security rather than the economy and that was the difference in the election.

Jeff Berkowitz: Leading some people to say that the Democratic Coalition is made up of high school drop-outs and Ph.Ds. The non-college women- there are also college [women] graduates who apparently went Republican, as well. You are talking about the swing vote, but seriously, it is a curious base [for Democrats]-- Ph.Ds and [high school] drop-outs-- basically making up the coalition for Democrats.
Berkowitz: Bush won 31 states, Kerry won 19 and DC- and of those that Bush won… (10% or 11% or less [of a margin of victory in a state]-- if that is the margin, the state is competitive), 21 of those [31 Bush] states are states in which Kerry-Edwards were not competitive.

Giangreco: Right.

Berkowitz: So, you have a great many states in which it is not that it is not close, it is that it is not even to the point where you could think that the Democrats could win—we are talking about the South and the Southwest.

Giangreco: But, you have a lot more people who live in the non-competitive Blue [Democrat] states…and that is one of the reasons why I think the Electoral College gives an unfair advantage to the Republicans—

Berkowitz: But, it is not going to change… [and] of the 19 states that Kerry-Edwards won, only six of those are states for which Bush-Cheney were not competitive, so I mean-- is there a structural problem here [for the Democrats]?
Giangreco: …the key thing is- we can no longer, as a party, we never really could—this fallacy that the Democrats can win [the Presidency] and lose every single Southern state, it makes the- your numbers are exactly right- you have to thread the needle, you have to win like almost every state in the mid-west and the north.

Berkowitz: Your view is-- to get back to the south-- they need a southern candidate. Is that right?

Giangreco: Yeah, I mean-

Berkowitz: So, you are running for ’08 and your candidate is John Edwards?

Giangreco: I think somebody like John Edwards or Bill Clinton, somebody who not only comes from the south, but more importantly doesn’t come from-- isn’t perceived to be one of these coastal, you know, California/New York elitists, who talk down to people and I think that is key- John Edwards all along had this message about the two Americas…and I think that is really the key message…
Pete Giangreco debates and discusses with Show Host and Executive Legal Recruiter Jeff Berkowitz why John Kerry and the Democrats lost the presidential election; which alternative Democratic Presidential candidate might have won; the impact, if any, of the Veep candidates; which substantive issues were most important to the voters; strategic or structural issues that may need to be addressed by the Democrats to win the Presidency in the future; and the key 2004 U. S. Senate races.

Pete Giangreco is a Democratic Campaign Consultant and partner at the Strategy Group ( Among many other campaigns (including that of U. S. Senator-Elect Barack Obama and Governor Blagojevich), Pete Giangreco has been involved in the last six Presidential elections on behalf of Democratic Candidates.
Pete Giangreco: I was the last man ever hired by [presidential primary candidate] Gary Hart in 1988- I guess they will put that on my tombstone.

Jeff Berkowitz: And, then he [Hart] ran into the “Monkey Business,” problem
Berkowitz: …Why did the Democrats lose the Presidency again?

Giangreco: Well, I think we continue to nominate candidates of limited appeal. I mean, I think John Kerry had a very elite quality about him. You know, sort of boarding school, Yale, Northeast Massachusetts Senator. We ran into the same kind of cultural problems with Al Gore, who came from a very similar background- although he was born in the south. He was essentially raised in Washington, D.C., again boarding schools [the elite St. Albans prep school in D.C., which also counts Cong. Jesse Jackson, Jr. among its alums] and Ivy League. When we nominate people who culturally can’t connect in places like the South, we lose. And when we do, we win—Bill Clinton [92, 96], Jimmy Carter [76, but lost his re-election bid in ’80 to Ronald Reagan] and Lyndon Johnson [Helped John F. Kennedy win the Presidency (by stealing Texas ?) in 1960; became President in 1963 after the Kennedy Assassination and was elected in 64, but, of course, due to the Vietnam War and Senator Gene McCarthy's near victory in the New Hampshire Primary over Lyndon Johnson, Lyndon Johnson became shell shocked and was scared away from seeking re-election in ‘68]- all candidates who won southern states and won the Presidency. Gore, Kerry, Dukakis: none of them carried a southern state. And, it is not just candidates who live in the South because there are people who culturally have the same affinity as people in the South- they live in southern Ohio, they live in upstate Michigan, they live in downstate Illinois.
Berkowitz: So, you are saying [with Kerry], you lose those votes in Ohio; you lose those votes in Michigan. You actually won the state in Michigan, but one of the reasons why the Democrats lost in Ohio may have been the performance in southern Ohio.

Giangreco: It is clearly… southern Ohio, double-digit unemployment- a lot of these counties, the coal mines are shut down, and a lot of their jobs have been outsourced…

Berkowitz: …your point is that based on the job issue, Kerry should have won that state [Ohio], and he should have won in that particular area.

Giangreco: And, if you look at the exit polls, Kerry won 80% of the people who said jobs and the economy were the No. 1 issue. The problem is that for a lot of regions of the country and for some specific demographic groups- particularly women without a college degree, security and the war on terrorism actually ended up being more of an important issue to them than the economy and that’s why Bush won- because he was able to scare a lot of people—

Berkowitz: Women without a college degree?

Giangreco: they were the key

Berkowitz: But, married women-

Giangreco: Not so much married women, I mean married women traditionally tend to vote Republican- white, married women tend to vote Republican.

Berkowitz: Well, there were a lot of soccer moms a few years ago that people thought were starting to vote Democratic.

Giangreco: Right, that was some of the trend…but the real key here was that white women- folks without a college degree, you know more middle class, working class, white women who economically identify more with the Democrats, voted for Bush because of War and Security. I mean I think they did a very good job of presenting Bush as strong and Cheney running around the country saying John Kerry- if he gets elected we are going to get attacked again, which was one of the great lies of the campaign, but they lied very well.

Berkowitz: You are sort of treating the voters as if they are stupid.

Giangreco: No, not at all. I am treating the Bush campaign as if they are very smart. The other failure of the Kerry Campaign—

Berkowitz: But, you are putting it all on advertising. It is the John Kenneth Galbraith view-- only now [applied to] politics. In economics, Galbraith used to talk about consumers being kind of dumb and they had too many choices and they were easily fooled by advertising agencies.

Giangreco: No, what I am saying is that the Bush campaign did a much better job than the Kerry campaign. Of making security an issue, No. 1 and No. 2, I think playing what I think is a false claim, but a winning claim, that somehow Kerry would make us less safe…

Berkowitz: But, that was a trap that John Kerry set for himself. He, at the Convention…said “John Kerry, reporting for duty.”

Giangreco: I don’t disagree. They may have overplayed that hand.

Berkowitz: He was the one- John Kerry said this issue [National Security], in a sense, is about Vietnam…

Giangreco: To a lot of people, particularly older voters, there was a culture war in the 60s, and to their view, John Kerry was on the wrong side of the culture war. And, I think that was a legitimate criticism. And, I think it goes to the fact that I said earlier. When we nominate elitists or people who sound like they talk down to people- because I think your point is very well taken about Democrats, you know, treating people like they are not so smart- I think that is why John Edwards would have been a better candidate, by the way.

Berkowitz: There is one Democrat who doesn’t do that and that’s Hillary Clinton. If you heard her analysis, she has said, “We are ignoring certain voters. We are in a sense disrespecting those voters.”

Giangreco: She is right about that. Hillary Clinton could tomorrow become a NASCAR driver and join the NRA but despite the fact that she has spent her whole life fighting for people who don’t usually get a fair shake- folks in the middle class, people who are single mothers, working families…she culturally—there is a barrier between her and I think those voters and it is the same barrier that Al Gore had—

Berkowitz: You think she has a cultural problem, as well?

Giangreco: I do. I believe there is a perception about her—

Berkowitz: She doesn’t become a southerner by marriage? She was married to a southerner, but it doesn’t count? That’s what you are saying?

Giangreco: Yeah—

Berkowitz: She lived in Arkansas, but that doesn’t count.

Giangreco: You can’t fake it. I mean, voters are smart. You can’t fake it just by going hunting and bringing some cameras along…

Berkowitz: So, your view is that had your candidate…had he won the nomination, then your view is that the Democrats would have the presidency this time because John Edwards has a cultural fit, more in tune [with the voters than Kerry], am I getting that right?

Giangreco: That would be my general assertion. Now, I have to say, honestly, that the security and terrorism issues—Edwards still would have to deal with those—Bush probably still would have had an advantage on that despite the fact that Edwards spent almost six years on the Senate Intelligence committee—you would probably still give Bush the advantage.

Berkowitz. [as to the six years on the Senate Intelligence Committee], for the last two or three years he [Edwards] was running for President, wasn’t he?
Pete Giangreco, Democratic campaign consultant and partner, Strategy Group [], recorded on November 14, 2004, featured on tonight’s City of Chicago edition of Public Affairs [Nov. 29, 8:30 pm, Cable Ch. 21].
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of “Public Affairs,” and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search can be reached at