The Winston Group is a strategy and research firm dedicated to making ideas matter.

Roll Call: The Perils of Impeachment

by Emily O'Connor

In his latest for Roll Call, David Winston discusses why the Democratic refrain of impeachment sounds like partisan rhetoric rather than a serious solution to the problems voters want to see changed:

Voters, whose mood may be improving, remain skeptical of both parties and this president. What they are saying is that this country is facing serious problems overseas and at home, especially at home. Until the Russia investigations show them something more than they’ve seen so far, Democratic calls for impeachment seem nothing more than shrill partisan rhetoric from a party that still doesn’t understand how it lost in 2016.

The Russia story may garner eyeballs and clicks because of its sensationalism, and people believe that the integrity of our elections is important. But they see much of the coverage and the investigations themselves as nothing but partisan game playing, much as voters saw the Clinton impeachment 20 years ago.

Roll Call: “Issues Matter in Elections Even More Than You’d Think”

by Emily O'Connor

David Winston’s latest for Roll Call reviews the 2016 election and the importance of voter issue priorities:

So what does this analysis show really happened in 2016? Trump won the issues that mattered.

In the future, both political parties need to recognize that the electorate has a clear set of priorities. Issues matter — and going forward, they may matter much more than demographics.

Roll Call: “Bottom of the Ninth”

by Emily O'Connor

The WG’s David Winston writes for Roll Call on what outcomes matter to an electorate that feels this is the “bottom of the ninth” for the middle class:

…In the end, there are two numbers that will matter most in the 2018 election: How many jobs have been created and how much have wages gone up? Transformational tax reform legislation is essential to create the kind of economic growth that delivers both. This is a battle Republicans must win — on the floor and in homes and businesses across the country.

Principles are important. But you can’t win without outcome-based policy products that connect with people.

AIG Bonuses Raise Questions About Obama’s Leadership

by David Winston

Last Thursday, as the American International Group scandal exploded in Washington, Congressional Democrats and Team Obama, panicked by live cable coverage, provided one of the most surreal moments in recent political memory. It was a perfect storm of political posturing.
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Obama Opens With a Very High-Stakes Game of Chess

by David Winston

Ben Franklin wisely called life “a kind of chess.”

For the past six weeks, Democrats and Republicans have been engaged in the biggest, riskiest, most costly game of political speed chess in the nation’s history.
A chess game starts with the “opening,” a series of moves that define the basic structure and direction the game is likely to take.

Sometimes chess players will begin with an unexpected opening to throw the opponent off. Then they execute a series of moves that takes the game back to a more familiar opening. That’s called transposition. (more…)

Tonight’s Address Will Be Obama’s Positioning Statement

by David Winston

Washington’s main event last week featured presidential spokesman Robert “The Enforcer” Gibbs taking on CNBC’s Rick “Tea Party” Santelli over the housing bailout package, and it wasn’t pretty. Gibbs got personal at the podium, sarcastically unloading on the former trader with undisguised disdain.

His shots may have gotten a laugh in the White House briefing room, but across America, homeowners who are “playing by the rules” and paying their mortgages on time were cheering for Santelli, who clearly struck a nerve. Round One goes to Santelli.
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Democrats’ Stimulus Mired in Invalidated Ideas From the 1930s

by David Winston

Almost 40 years ago, as Apollo 13 made its way to the moon, an explosion threatened the mission and the lives of the three astronauts on board.

When the control room erupted into chaos, Flight Director Gene Kranz told his team to settle down, “Let’s work the problem, people,” he said. “Let’s not make things worse by guessing.”

Last week, Rep. Dave Camp (Mich.), the top Ways and Means Republican, posed the following question to Thomas Barthold, deputy chief of staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, at a hearing on the Democrats’ stimulus bill.

“Can you tell me, Mr. Barthold, how many jobs will be created by this legislation?”

Barthold answered, “Well, in short, Mr. Camp, I can’t.” (more…)

Obama Better Realize That Honeymoons Do Not Last Forever

by David Winston

There is a widely told story of Nikita Khrushchev’s ousting as the first secretary of the Communist Party more than 40 years ago. As the tale goes, just before leaving office the short-tempered, shoe-pounding leader sat down and wrote two letters to his successor along with a short note of instructions.

The note supposedly said, “To my successor: When you find yourself in a hopeless situation, open the first letter and it will save you. Later, when you again find yourself in a hopeless situation, open the second letter.”

Sure enough, his replacement, Leonard Brezhnev, soon had reason to open the first letter. It said, “Blame it all on me.” That’s what the new party leader did, and it saved his job. Later, he found himself in a similarly dire situation and supposedly grasped for Khrushchev’s second letter as he desperately looked for a solution. (more…)

GOP, Rothenberg Should See Futility of Relying on Attacks

by David Winston

In his critique of my Dec. 2 column, my Roll Call colleague, Stuart Rothenberg, in essence, defended the Republican political status quo — an attack-based campaign doctrine that has failed both the party and its candidates, much to the delight of Democrats. If I were on the other side hoping for a permanent political majority, I’d encourage Republican operatives to keep doing what they’ve been doing for years, too. Clearly, the American people have moved on and want more from political leaders than negative campaigns and pork-barrel politics. To suggest, as he did, that “when your party’s reputation is in the toilet, trying to drive up your opponents’ negatives is one of the few things you can do,” is “simply wrong.” (more…)

A Modern Agenda Would Lead the GOP out of the Wilderness

by David Winston

After three weeks of explaining to disheartened Republicans exactly what happened on Nov. 4, I’m beginning to feel more like a grief counselor than a political analyst. In the days leading up to the presidential election, with poll numbers trending the wrong way, most Republicans were in a state of group denial — “This can’t be happening.”
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