Reagan's 1984 campaign strategy
Some important aspects of the still-developing Reagan campaign strategy have now firmed up: 1. Once again the President will thump hard for the so-called social issues, particularly for a prayer-in-school amendment and tuition aid for parents with children in private/parochial schools.
Presidential pollster Richard Wirthlin points out these issues helped Mr. Reagan do well among Roman Catholic blue-collar workers and Southern voters in 1980.
2. The President's advisers have concluded that Mr. Reagan will continue to face a gender gap. But they believe more women oppose him for economic than for foreign policy reasons.
They count on an improving economy to narrow that gap, to the point that continuing very strong support among males will enable the President to win.
3. Although the administration would never admit it publicly, its political assessment is one that pretty much writes off the black vote. Most blacks voted against Reagan last time. And the Reagan people see little that he can do now that would win over substantial numbers.
4. The President will return to his 1980 and pre-1980 stance of proclaiming his pro-Israel position. This avowal of support for Israel, together with suspicion among many American Jews that Jimmy Carter was tilting away from Israel, contributed to Reagan's doing quite well among Jewish voters in the 1980 election.
What former Democratic national chairman Robert Strauss calls Reagan's ''on-again, off-again policy toward'' Israel has caused many in the US Jewish community to doubt the President's loyalty to Israel's cause.
But now the United States is definitely warming up its relationship with Israel. The administration's official rationale for this is that any cooling off of US relations with Israel resulted from what Reagan perceived as former Prime Minister Menachem Begin's unwillingness to be cooperative. Reagan was particularly nettled by Israel's move into Lebanon and by its continuing policy of settling the West Bank.
But Reagan's short-lived ''evenhandedness'' policy in the Mideast has abruptly ended. The President feels more comfortable with the new Israeli government. Further, one administration official confides that the US had come to feel ''all alone'' in Lebanon.
Cynics will say that Reagan is warming up to Israel to woo the Jewish vote. A fairer assessment is that Reagan was already well established as a supporter of Israel and as a friend of the US Jewish community. Thus, his change should be credited mainly to foreign policy considerations - particularly the new, post-Begin political environment in Israel.
But certainly Reagan's political advisers are hailing this new policy. And certainly, too, the President, himself a master politician, could not have been unmindful that his repairing of relations with Israel could very well play better for him among Jewish voters.