Tuesday, May 03, 2005
Democrats and New Labour

Whilst media attention has focussed on Lynton Crosby and the Tory version of Multivac, the New Labour campaign has been enriched by the experiences of Democratic activists working for the Dean and Kerry campaigns. Faced with increasing cynicism and decreasing turnout, the campaigns in both the United States and Great Britain have concentarted on "getting out the vote": persuading those voters in key marginals that New Labour is working and delivering on its promises.

Party officials cautioned against overstating the influence and presence of Americans, reflecting a sensitivity toward any suggestion of American paternalism or political superiority.

Robert Worcester, a British pollster, noted that the race remained very close in a number of districts. Mark Penn, an American pollster working for Blair, said: "Turnout is extremely important. The bigger the turnout, the better for Labour."

There are several other American advisers as well: In London, Zach Exley, also a veteran of the Dean and John Kerry campaigns, is working on the e-campaign, as it is called, building up an extensive e-mail list of supporters and enlisting them to work as volunteers in offices like the one here.

The Blair campaign turned to Penn at the urging of former U.S. President Bill Clinton himself, according to party officials. And Stan Greenberg, a Democratic pollster and former adviser to Clinton, is conducting focus groups for the Labour Party.

Bob Shrum, a senior adviser to Kerry's campaign, is a friend and sometime adviser to Gordon Brown, the chancellor of the Exchequer and almost certain successor to Blair eventually. Joe Trippi, one-time campaign manager for Dean, came to England earlier this year at the invitation of Labour officials to sit down with Blair.

It is clear that neither party accepts the patterns of 1997 or 2001 will be reciprocated. Labour is still stronger in the polls than in voting patterns and the concentration on marginal seats, the strength of tactical voting, the higher turnout from postal votes and the decrease in the Labour lead, make predictions uncertain. Will the political bets prove more accurate than the polls or is there room for surprises within our electorate?


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