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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Midterm Opportunities Still There

For all you fatalists out there who essentially think there’s nothing to do politically but await the inevitable Republican landslide in November, you might want to take a look at the latest CBS-New York Times poll.
While there’s plenty of gloom-and-doom in the survey about negative perceptions of the economy, the direction of the country, and political incumbents, it’s also clear the GOP has not even come close to sealing the deal on their own “solutions:”

Voters do not perceive Republicans as having better ideas and disagree with them on the biggest economic issue of the campaign — whether to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy — a sign the party has no real advantage on key pieces of their agenda, which makes it more necessary to run as a generic alternative to the party in power.

Attitudes towards congressional Republicans are significantly more negative than of congressional Democrats and Republicans are not perceived as having any clear plan for dealing with the country’s problems. To the extent that the Tea Party Movement is branding the GOP as obsessively concerned with budget deficits and levels of taxation, it’s worth noting that in response to an open-ended question about the most important issue facing the country, only 3% cited deficits and 1% taxes. Said movement itself now has a 18/30 favorable/unfavorable rating among self-identified independents, still another indication that its views are not exactly sweeping the nation.
The quote above from the Times story on the poll includes the most important takeaway: Republicans can only win the midterms if it’s strictly a referendum on the status quo. To the extent that voters start comparing the two parties, the GOP grows weaker. And that is why Democrats should brush aside fears of looking too “negative” and make the terrible “thinking” of their Republican opponents as clear as possible.
It’s also worth remembering that even if Republicans get through the midterms without being held accountable for an agenda that is alternatively empty and crack-brained, this “pass” won’t last forever, and certainly not through the presidential cycle of 2012.

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