4-Corner Offense: A Path to Victory in 2014

Here's why Democrats should have used Obama.

ByABC News
October 27, 2014, 11:05 AM
President Barack Obama speaks to the media about the government's Ebola response, in the Oval Office of the White House Oct. 16, 2014, in Washington.
President Barack Obama speaks to the media about the government's Ebola response, in the Oval Office of the White House Oct. 16, 2014, in Washington.
Jacquelyn Martin / AP Photo

— -- Back in the day (or before the shot clock), some men's basketball teams, with little talent facing long odds, were able to pull off surprising upsets and keep many games close against much stronger and talented college squads. How did they do this? By employing the four-corner strategy.

Teams would hold the ball for lengthy periods, passing it back or forth, and keeping the game as low-scoring as possible, and then hope they could win it in the end.

About a week out from Election Day with Democrats facing an uphill fight to keep the U.S. Senate (it is very close and could go either way) and likely going to lose seats in the U.S. House, I would like to suggest that Democrats should have utilized a four-corner strategy. And could still do so if they move quickly, not by stalling but by going on the offensive.

First, contrary to strategists and conventional wisdom, the Democrats should have used President Obama in key states and races around the country. Today, most Democratic campaigns don't want the president anywhere near their races, in person or in message because of his low approval ratings.

This is a mistake. These Democratic candidates are getting all the bad of the president's low approval numbers and none of the good of his capacity to deliver a message and motivate key voting groups.

The president's approval rating is already baked in the political cake of the country, and his appearance somewhere isn't going to motivate more Republicans in any given place. But his appearance in a jurisdiction actually may help motivate Democratic voters who feel beaten down.

I remember very well in 2000 (I directed polling and media for the Bush campaign) how the Gore campaign didn't utilize then-President Clinton because they were afraid of the scandals he carried with him. Similarly, the Gore campaign ended up with all the downside of Clinton's negatives and none of the upside.

Second, midterm elections these days have become nationalized, and Democrats should have embraced this. Instead of having a series of mixed messages state by state, they should have let Obama and others carry a national message against Republicans in general.

Republican candidates are ahead in races today despite the fact their party favorability rating is much lower than the Democrats. And Democrats still have an advantage on the value of who cares about the middle class and regular people in.

That should have been the national message broadly Democrats have run with. The middle class has been left behind, feels squeezed and is very frustrated. They are looking for someone who has their back, and Democrats would have been smart to adopt this as their national message.