Published for Real Clear Politics, March 21, 2013

The Republican Party has just come out with a new strategy, and number 13 on its list of demographic outreach priorities is to “Expand our presence on more pop culture oriented outlets to ensure our message is reaching all voters.” This finding may be surprising, and atypical for a political party’s strategy, but it recognizes an important fact: The area where President Obama most out-competed Mitt Romney in 2012 was in the sphere of pop culture fluency.

Throughout 2012, President Obama maintained a laser-like focus not on the economy, but on his cultural image. For a sitting commander in chief, Obama continually demonstrated an unprecedented and often disturbing level of pop culture fluency, showing himself to be up to date on music, movies, and especially TV. Obama, at one time or another, mentioned Homeland, Modern Family, Boardwalk Empire, and Mad Men as among his favorite shows. In addition to being on the cutting edge of the small screen, Obama also knew where to go to demonstrate how hip he was, appearing on more than two dozen “soft” entertainment-style interviews during the campaign. He “slow jammed” the news on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and let Fallon call him the “Preezy of the United Steezy.” He told the deejays on a New Mexico radio station that he likes green chili over red, enjoys working out to Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe, and that his superpower of choice would be the ability to speak any language. He was also a popular guest on Oprah and The View, appearing five times on the latter. At one point, he chose to appear on The View over meeting key world leaders who were visiting the U.S. for the United Nations General Assembly.

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