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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Month: April 2014

April 30: The Eternal Battle Between Analysis and Spin

We are at a point in the 2014 election cycle when reliable predictive data is sparse and changeable, while spin is ever-abundant. Sometimes it’s not that easy to separate the two. I wrote about this problem today at the Washington Monthly.

As we have all observed, Nate Silver and other purveyors of “data journalism” have gotten a lot of flak early in this election cycle, some of it warranted, but much of it the kind of taunting schoolyard kingpins typically inflict on tyros they instinctively understand will be rich and powerful someday.
Close to the line between rational objection and special pleading is a column from National Journal‘s house conservative, Josh Kraushaar, who begins with this hackish complaint about 538’s early Senate projections:

[C]ount me underwhelmed by the new wave of Senate prediction models assessing the probability of Republicans winning the upper chamber by one-tenth of a percentage point. It’s not that the models aren’t effective at what they’re designed to do. It’s that the methodology behind them is flawed. Unlike baseball, where the sample size runs in the thousands of at-bats or innings pitched, these models overemphasize a handful of early polls at the expense of on-the-ground intelligence on candidate quality. As Silver might put it, there’s a lot of noise to the signal.

So? Has Nate somehow failed to observe that the projections will become more reliable the closer we get to November? Or is there something else he’s missing? Yeah, that’s it:

The models also undervalue the big-picture indicators suggesting that 2014 is shaping up to be a wave election for Republicans, the type of environment where even seemingly safe incumbents can become endangered. Nearly every national poll, including Tuesday’s ABC News/Washington Post survey, contains ominous news for Senate Democrats. President Obama’s job approval is at an all-time low of 41 percent, and public opinion on his health care law hasn’t budged and remains a driving force in turning out disaffected voters to the polls to register their anger. Public opinion on the economy isn’t any better than it was before the 2010 midterms when the unemployment rate hit double-digits. Democrats hold only a 1-point lead on the generic ballot in the ABC/WaPo survey–worse positioning than before the GOP’s 2010 landslide.

Now if cherry-picking the most bleak of national indicators and then comparing them to indicators that largely proved wrong in 2010 proves another Republican “wave” is on the way, then it will always, always seem apparent just on the horizon to those who want to see it. National indicators, BTW, are just as subject to change as state polls, and Silver, BTW, does factor in Obama’s approval ratings and economic conditions.
But then having done the journalistic equivalent of “trash-talking,” Kraushaar eschews said practice and offers his own, quasi-empirically based projections, which (with the exception of a strange, wonder-if-they-are-related paean to Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst) follow pretty much the same sorts of micro-indicators Silver uses.
So it’s tough to figure out when a guy like Kaushaar is spinning or telling us what he really thinks. That’s generally not a problem for Nate Silver.

Which is why I find nit-picking about data-based political journalism to be so often misguided. Criticize the data where it’s warranted. But when you do so, lay off the spin.


The Eternal Battle Between Analysis and Spin

We are at a point in the 2014 election cycle when reliable predictive data is sparse and changeable, while spin is ever-abundant. Sometimes it’s not that easy to separate the two. I wrote about this problem today at the Washington Monthly.

As we have all observed, Nate Silver and other purveyors of “data journalism” have gotten a lot of flak early in this election cycle, some of it warranted, but much of it the kind of taunting schoolyard kingpins typically inflict on tyros they instinctively understand will be rich and powerful someday.
Close to the line between rational objection and special pleading is a column from National Journal‘s house conservative, Josh Kraushaar, who begins with this hackish complaint about 538’s early Senate projections:

[C]ount me underwhelmed by the new wave of Senate prediction models assessing the probability of Republicans winning the upper chamber by one-tenth of a percentage point. It’s not that the models aren’t effective at what they’re designed to do. It’s that the methodology behind them is flawed. Unlike baseball, where the sample size runs in the thousands of at-bats or innings pitched, these models overemphasize a handful of early polls at the expense of on-the-ground intelligence on candidate quality. As Silver might put it, there’s a lot of noise to the signal.

So? Has Nate somehow failed to observe that the projections will become more reliable the closer we get to November? Or is there something else he’s missing? Yeah, that’s it:

The models also undervalue the big-picture indicators suggesting that 2014 is shaping up to be a wave election for Republicans, the type of environment where even seemingly safe incumbents can become endangered. Nearly every national poll, including Tuesday’s ABC News/Washington Post survey, contains ominous news for Senate Democrats. President Obama’s job approval is at an all-time low of 41 percent, and public opinion on his health care law hasn’t budged and remains a driving force in turning out disaffected voters to the polls to register their anger. Public opinion on the economy isn’t any better than it was before the 2010 midterms when the unemployment rate hit double-digits. Democrats hold only a 1-point lead on the generic ballot in the ABC/WaPo survey–worse positioning than before the GOP’s 2010 landslide.

Now if cherry-picking the most bleak of national indicators and then comparing them to indicators that largely proved wrong in 2010 proves another Republican “wave” is on the way, then it will always, always seem apparent just on the horizon to those who want to see it. National indicators, BTW, are just as subject to change as state polls, and Silver, BTW, does factor in Obama’s approval ratings and economic conditions.
But then having done the journalistic equivalent of “trash-talking,” Kraushaar eschews said practice and offers his own, quasi-empirically based projections, which (with the exception of a strange, wonder-if-they-are-related paean to Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst) follow pretty much the same sorts of micro-indicators Silver uses.
So it’s tough to figure out when a guy like Kaushaar is spinning or telling us what he really thinks. That’s generally not a problem for Nate Silver.

Which is why I find nit-picking about data-based political journalism to be so often misguided. Criticize the data where it’s warranted. But when you do so, lay off the spin.


Battleground voters more positive on Affordable Care Act and GOP likely hurt by repeal focus, starting with independents

Battleground voters more positive on Affordable Care Act and GOP likely hurt by repeal focus, starting with independents


MacGillis: Dems Should Ditch ‘Midterm Fatalism’

Alec MacGillis’s “Democrats Can Overcome Their Midterm Fatalism–If They Get Over Themselves” at The New Republic restates a key message point of Sasha Issenberg’s recent article in the same magazine. MacGillis says it a little differently, but his emphasis should help bring the midterm challenge into focus:

…Before Democrats swoon into another round of pearl-clutching, they would be well-advised to absorb the message in Sasha Issenberg’s striking cover story in the new issue of this magazine. The piece is, on the surface, a helpful explainer of the new political science findings on how midterm elections work, and in particular why Republicans have come to have such a built-in advantage in them.
Embedded in the piece, though, is a powerful exhortation for Democrats to overcome their natural tendency toward midterm fatalism. Put simply, even when things aren’t looking so great for the party, the mundane work of fundraising and campaign volunteering can still make a real difference in winning key races. But if Democrats allow their fatalism to keep their butts on the couch and checkbooks in the drawer, forget about it.

Dems shouldn’t spend too much time worrying about changing minds at this stage. Showing up is actually a good bit more than half the battle, or rather, getting the so-called “unreliables” to show up:

…The irregular voters–“unreliables,” in Issenberg’s lingo–do not need to be won over to the Democrats with some magically persuasive message. They are, for the most part, already inclined to support the party. They just need to be gotten to the polls in midterm years. And there is an increasingly strong grasp of how this can be done: not through brilliant ads seeking to fire up base voters, but through the more targeted and unflashy outreach of shrewdly-phrased direct mail and, best of all, door-to-door contact by campaign canvassers.

In a way, voter apathy is less of a solvable problem than donor/volunteer motivation, echoes MacGillis:

The real challenge is that the efforts that have been proven to get Democratic voters to the polls even when the climate seems against the party–as in Colorado Senator Michael Bennet’s 2010 reelection and Terry McAuliffe’s election as Virginia governor last fall–is that they take manpower and cost money, and that the people who supply both of those in presidential years need to get over their fatalism and do the same in midterm years. That is, the fatalism that is so damaging to Democrats resides less in the disillusioned voter who stays home on election day than it does in the donor or volunteer whose support could have gotten 10 or 100 or 1000 unreliable voters to the polls.

Energizing volunteers and donors, then offers Dems their best chance to bust the midterm doldrums, argues MacGillis, agreeing with Issenberg. “Whether or not Democrats hold the Senate this year and win back some of the ground they lost in state capitals like Columbus will depend, in great part, on whether the party’s volunteers and donors can rouse themselves to get people back on those sidewalks–to get past their mood of the moment and the drumbeat of pessimism from the pundits to do the necessary work. It really is as simple as that.”
Simple or not, it’s hard to see how Democrats can go wrong energizing these two relatively small, but hugely influential pro-Democratic constituencies.


Battleground voters more positive on Affordable Care Act – and GOP likely hurt by repeal focus, starting with independents

The following article is cross posted from a DCorps E-blast:
Best Democratic strategy for base turnout and vote in 2014 includes ACA but overwhelmingly focuses on economic choice
This poll in the House battleground shows all of the major indicators largely unchanged since our last battleground poll in December when the country was pretty unhappy with the state of things. The anti-incumbent mood, Republican brand problems, President’s approval rating, and the congressional vote are all largely unchanged.
But one big thing has changed – and that is the views of the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. Across all of the battleground districts, support has increased on all three tracking measures–and this is particularly true in the Republican-held seats. There have been big shifts on wanting to implement and fix the law and big drops in intensity for those who want to repeal and replace the law. This is one of the most significant changes we have seen in tracking in the battleground — and Republicans already have a lot of explaining to do.
What is really striking is that this change is overwhelmingly driven by Independents. In our last battleground survey in December, independents favored repeal by a 12-point margin; they now support implementation by 7 points.
Independents_on_ACA_4.15.14.png
This support has grown in both size and intensity among college-educated women and unmarried women.
The drop in intensity on the opposition/repeal side risks the GOP’s off-year turnout strategy – and indeed, in the Republican seats, the continued focus on ACA produces a somewhat lower turnout of base Republicans. In any case, by continuing to focus on the ACA, Republicans are emphasizing their weakest message according to this battleground poll.
The shift against repeal and opposition has just kicked in, but could begin to erode the Republican vote in the months ahead.
This fourth battleground poll of the election cycle is based on interviews with 1,200 respondents in 35 incumbent Democratic seats and 50 Republican seats; these are interviews with actual off-year voters, reflecting off-year demographics, using a named ballot in each district. But this survey included a unique experiment to see the impact when Democratic incumbents emphasized or de-emphasized the Affordable Care Act in their positive and negative campaigns. We assess the impact on both the vote and base turnout.
Unmarried women are the key target because they could be 20 to 25 percent of the electorate – and this poll reveals their limited interested in voting, as well as diminished levels of support for Democrats.
The survey, the experiment, and the regression models remind us that this economy remains tough, and that is the strongest framework for attacking Republicans and the strongest motivator for Democratic base voters to vote. Health care messages are important to Democrats’ success, but messages with an economic agenda at the center are strongest. .
The strongest framework for Democrats in challenging the Republican incumbents and in fending off Republican challengers is their support for “Speaker John Boehner and his policies that have hurt the economy and done nothing about jobs.” Half (50 percent) say that their incumbent “may be okay” but they would not vote to reelect because he or she supports the Speaker and the policies that produced gridlock and damaged the economy, and his priorities do not include getting to work on jobs.
That framework takes advantage of the terrible brand position of John Boehner and the Republicans in the House. What is so striking is how much more powerful is this framework than a parallel test with Medicare and taxes. Democrats need to be focused on the Speaker and the economy.
BG_2014_Message_attacks.png
The strongest Democratic messages in the simulated campaign and the regression modeling begin with the economic agenda tested here:
Everyone in Washington is fighting instead of focusing on jobs and jobs that pay enough to live on. We should raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, make sure women get equal pay for equal work, make job training and college more affordable, stop tax breaks for companies that export jobs…
The strongest messages also include education and fixing the health care law, while keeping the insurance companies out, as well as support for specific health care reforms. Nevertheless, it is critical for voters to understand first that Democrats are focused on jobs that pay enough to live on, while Speaker Boehner and Republicans in Congress have hurt the economy and done nothing about jobs.
The experiment will show that base voter turnout is higher with an economic focus, though health care messages and attacks remain critically important to the our message strategy. They also play a targeted role with college educated and unmarried women.
Read on the website


Two-Faced Welfare Queens of the Purple Sage

Accustomed though you may be to great Paul Krugman columns, do not miss his Sunday op-ed on “High Plains Moochers.” There’s been a lot of good writing lately about the Cliven Bundy fiasco, but Krugman nails it squarely:

It is, in a way, too bad that Cliven Bundy — the rancher who became a right-wing hero after refusing to pay fees for grazing his animals on federal land, and bringing in armed men to support his defiance — has turned out to be a crude racist. Why? Because his ranting has given conservatives an easy out, a way to dissociate themselves from his actions without facing up to the terrible wrong turn their movement has taken.

Excellent point. Bundy’s racist drivel lets Hannity and other wingnut sycophants back away in faux disappointment, without having to be held to account for their support of government moochers masquerading as government-bashers. As Krugman elaborates:

For at the heart of the standoff was a perversion of the concept of freedom, which for too much of the right has come to mean the freedom of the wealthy to do whatever they want, without regard to the consequences for others.
Start with the narrow issue of land use. For historical reasons, the federal government owns a lot of land in the West; some of that land is open to ranching, mining and so on. Like any landowner, the Bureau of Land Management charges fees for the use of its property. The only difference from private ownership is that by all accounts the government charges too little — that is, it doesn’t collect as much money as it could, and in many cases doesn’t even charge enough to cover the costs that these private activities impose. In effect, the government is using its ownership of land to subsidize ranchers and mining companies at taxpayers’ expense.
It’s true that some of the people profiting from implicit taxpayer subsidies manage, all the same, to convince themselves and others that they are rugged individualists. But they’re actually welfare queens of the purple sage.

It’s OK, say the wingnut pundits, for the likes of Bundy to steal from taxpayers, while all of them would agree grazing on land owned by just one tax-payer, or more likely in their case a tax-dodger, would be an outrage to them. Private property is sacrosanct; Government property is for looting. Not an argument that would stand up under much scrutiny.
Krugman adds that “the Bundy fiasco was a byproduct of the dumbing down that seems ever more central to the way America’s right operates,” not so unlike the once studious adolescent who stops reading books, so he can spend more time with comic books. As Krugman laments:

American conservatism used to have room for fairly sophisticated views about the role of government. Its economic patron saint used to be Milton Friedman, who advocated aggressive money-printing, if necessary, to avoid depressions. It used to include environmentalists who took pollution seriously but advocated market-based solutions like cap-and-trade or emissions taxes rather than rigid rules.
But today’s conservative leaders were raised on Ayn Rand’s novels and Ronald Reagan’s speeches (as opposed to his actual governance, which was a lot more flexible than the legend). They insist that the rights of private property are absolute, and that government is always the problem, never the solution.

“…Along with this anti-intellectualism,” continues Krugman, “goes a general dumbing-down, an exaltation of supposedly ordinary folks who don’t hold with this kind of stuff. Think of it as the right’s duck-dynastic moment.” Perhaps we can spare a rare kind word for conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, who at least called out Bundy’s phony patriotism.
Other than that, don’t hold your breath waiting for more honest conservative reflection on the Bundy fiasco. As Krugman concludes, “I don’t expect it to happen.”


Political Strategy Notes

Make Sasha Issenberg’s TNR article “How the Democrats Can Avoid Going Down This November: The new science of Democratic survival” your political strategy must-read of the day. Here’s a couple of reasons why: “For a party populated with Unreliable voters, the midterm imperative is clear: Raise the dollars and secure the volunteer commitments. Then go and turn out those who are already on your side but won’t show up without a friendly nudge…Democrats should not be too worried about the inbound negative ads: There will be millions of Unreliables in Senate battlegrounds this fall who would never vote for a Republican. And once mobilized, a reluctant voter’s ballot counts the same as any other’s. But the enthusiasm and interest of the activists and donors upon whom that mobilization depends can certainly waver.”
See also TNR’s companion post to Issenberg’s article “The Democrats’ Best Senate Hopes: An Unorthodox Ranking,” which pegs the “Democratic Vote DeficIts” for WV, AK, MT, NH, IA, LA, AR, KY, MI, CO, NC AND GA to specific numbers provided by TargetSmart and Clarity Campaign Labs, in rank order “from easiest to most difficult.”
Quin La Capra reports at The Hill that “Eleven states/jurisdictions have enacted the National Popular Vote (NPV) bill, giving the proposal 165 electoral votes — 61 percent of the 270 electoral votes needed to trigger the new voting system.”
Sam Stein’s HuffPo post “Obamacare’s Poll Numbers Improve In Republican Districts” notes “Attitudes toward the Affordable Care Act continue to shift in the law’s favor, even in Republican-held congressional districts, a new poll set to be released Monday by a Democratic firm will show…The poll, which was conducted by Democracy Corps in battleground congressional districts and shared in advance with The Huffington Post, shows 52 percent of respondents want to “implement and fix” the 2010 health care reform law versus 42 percent who want to “repeal and replace” it. Those numbers were 49 percent to 45 percent, respectively, in the firm’s December poll…The favorable trend toward Obamacare has been witnessed not just in Democratic districts but also in Republican districts.”
…And the Florida Republicans couldn’t tank Obamacare, despite pulling out all stops:

But Ronald Brownstein warns at The National Journal that the President’s approval ratings are still too low, according to a new Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll. Yet, “The one solace for Democrats in the new poll is that Congress is even more unpopular than the president. Just 11 percent of those surveyed said they approved of Congress’s performance, while 80 percent disapproved. In the five times the Heartland Monitor has tested Congress’ rating since November 2012, only last November did it score more poorly, with just 9 percent approving and 84 percent disapproving.”
AP’s Alan Fram reports that the upcoming vote on the minimum wage could be a turning point for Dems, with women and young voters in particular, but also with the electorate as a whole: “It’s a powerful values issue for middle-class voters,” Democratic pollster Geoffrey Garin said of the minimum wage push. “And it’s a powerful motivator for voters in the Democratic base who are a focal point of Democratic efforts to turn out voters in the midterm elections.”
He’s singing a diffetrent tune nowadays, but right here you can watch Rand Paul trashing Ronald Reagan.
At least some conservatives are more than a little nervous about adopting Cliven Bundy as their new poster-boy. As Alyssa Rosenberg notes, “On Fox News, my colleague Charles Krauthammer goes further, making the point that romanticizing a rejection of federal authority often ends in embarrassment. “This is a man who said that he doesn’t recognize the authority of the United States of America. That makes him a patriot?” Krauthammer asked. Anti-government language has been a powerful rhetorical tool, but it is difficult to sever those sentiments from the neo-Confederate sentiments that trail stubbornly behind it. Maybe it is time to try to elevate a different path to conservative stardom.” Ya think?


Political Strategy Notes

The buzz keeps building for Thomas Picketty’s “Capital in the 21st Century,” which “is being discussed with equal fervor by the world’s top economic policy makers and middle class Americans who wonder why they haven’t gotten a raise in years,” as Rana Faroohar reports at Time in her post “Here’s Why This Best-Selling Book Is Freaking Out the Super-Wealthy.” Picketty’s book is now number 1 at Amazon, and Paul Krugman terms it a “magnificent, sweeping meditation on inequality” in The New York Review of Books. Krugman and Brooks have opposing op-eds about the book at the Times.
If you’re looking for a lighter read, try Democratic candidate for Governor of Florida Charlie Crist’s memoir, “The Party’s Over: How the Extreme Right Hijacked the GOP and I Became a Democrat.” See also Molly Ball’s profile of Crist in The Atlantic, which offers some insights about political strategy in the Sunshine State, as well as Crist’s politics.
NYT’s “Southerners Don’t Like Obamacare. They Also Don’t Want to Repeal It” by Sabrina Tavernise and Allison Kopicki notes that “The findings in the four states — all with political races that could tip the balance of power in the Senate — underscore the complex and often contradictory views of Mr. Obama’s principal domestic legislation four years after it became law.”
At Bloomberg Businessweek Joshua Green’s “Here’s Why Obamacare Will Help Democrats and Hurt Republicans” offers this observation: “I think the health-care law will still prove to be a net plus for Democrats in many races–a few this fall, and many more in future elections…Kentucky’s Democratic governor, Steve Beshear, on Tuesday declared the law an “indisputable success” and said 413,000 Kentuckians had gained private or Medicaid coverage through Kynect. As the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent notes, Beshear has a 56-29 approval rating. But Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican running for reelection, remains wedded to the notion of repeal. Now, Democrats in the state are going after him for wanting to abolish not Obamacare, but Kynect.”
At Politico Emily Schultheis reports that “Democrats race to embrace Obamacare in Pennsylvania primary.” Here’s an ad for PA Democratic gubernatorial candidate Allyson Schwartz:

At The American Prospect Harold Meyerson notes, riffing on a recent NYT/Kaiser Family Foundation poll of four southern states, “The word on Americans–one bit of conventional wisdom that is nonetheless true–is that they are ideologically conservative and operationally liberal. They are opposed to big government but support actual universal government programs like Social Security and Medicare…Confronted with Obamacare, conservative Americans have taken this paradox to new heights. They intensely dislike the program, but they like what it actually does.”
At the NYT Upshot Nate Cohn explains why Dems shouldn’t get too euphoric about recent polls showing a rebound breaking their way in the southern states.
The Crystal Ball’s Kyle Kondik meditates on the power of gaffes to transform elections, and concludes that most of the time they don’t matter all that much — at least in this cycle (with three notable exceptions)…so far.
Also at The Crystal Ball, Geoffrey Skelley explains why veterans don’t vote all that differently from non-veterans. Disproportionately white, male and southern, as a group they tend to tilt more toward Republicans, despite being repeatedly screwed by GOP members of congress over the years.


April 24: Limits of an Angry Base

As Democrats (quite appropriately) focus on ways to boost turnout this November, there’s often, in my opinion, an excessive emphasis on “voter enthusiasm” as opposed to more mechanical ways of getting out the vote. But some analysts go even further, as I discussed today at Washington Monthly.

[A]t the Daily Beast today, comedian/activist Dean Obeidallah, in what I assume was not a comedic take, offers an even more dubious variation on the “enthusiasm” theory: the “anger” theory. Angry voters, he asserts, win midterms, and since Republican voters are really angry right now, Democrats are going to get waxed if they don’t get angry, too.
Obeidallah’s data set for his “angry voters win midterms” hypothesis is limited to the last to midterms. In 2006, voters angry at Bush turned out; in 2010, voters angry at Obama turned out. Trouble is, there’s not a big difference in the kind of voters who voted in this two midterms with such different results. The most important difference I can see is that in 2006 over-65 votes preferred Democrats by a 50-48 margin; in 2010 they preferred Republicans by 59-38, reflecting a sharp trend that first manifested itself in 2008. The partisan composition of the electorate in 2010 was marginally more pro-Republican than in 2006, but at some point these sorts of comparison become almost entirely circular: if the voters who turn out tilt Republican, then “Republican turnout” is up. That’s not to say a different electorate is appearing.
More to the point, even if Obeidallah is right in arguing that “anger” is key to midterm turnout and/or victory, there’s an especially germane difference between ’16 and ’10: the party in control of the White House, and thus (invariably) the primary object of voter unhappiness. This, and not some sort of mathematical law, is why parties controlling the White House, particularly when the economy isn’t doing well, tend to lose ground in midterms, and especially second midterms.
So what Obeidallah is really arguing for isn’t a sudden realization among Democrats that anger is powerful, but a very difficult strategy of convincing voters to be angry at the party that does not control the White House, while presumably remaining non-angry at the White House itself. That is an extremely roundabout way of describing what is often called a “two futures” election, where voters resist the natural tendency to make their vote a “referendum” on the status quo, and instead vote on their future policy preferences.
There are exactly two precedents for this sort of appeal actually succeeding. One, the most relevant, is unfortunately pretty distant in time: Harry Truman’s 1948 “Do-Nothing Congress” attack on the GOP, which (a) wasn’t a midterm, and (b) was nestled between two really bad midterms for Democrats. The second, in 1998, is relevant insofar as voters appeared to have been interested in rebuffing congressional GOP overreach mostly attributable to the Clinton impeachment effort. But it’s less relevant because the economy was booming and Clinton’s job approval ratings were over 60%.
So there’s not much evidence Democrats will win any anger-fest in 2014. That’s not to say, of course, that they should not spend a great deal of time and money reaching out to their “base” and encouraging them to vote via a combination of “happy” messages about Obama’s accomplishments and “unhappy” messages about the damage a Republican Congress might do to them. Perhaps even more importantly, Democrats need to let voters who lean their way know where and when and how to vote, and that sitting this one out isn’t acceptable.

In truth, there’s no simple Democratic strategy for ’14. Yes, swing voters will be relatively sparse, but they matter. Yes, “base” turnout efforts will have both a technological and a message component. Yes, “populist” issues like the minimum wage and Medicaid expansion will be useful both with swing and base voters. And yes, different strokes will work with different folks in some parts of the country. But the search for a single bullet is probably a waste of time.