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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

No Referendum? No Worries!

It’s been obvious from the very beginning of this election cycle that Republicans would depend heavily on the tendency of voters to treat midterms as a referendum on the status quo, and the party perceived to be in power. This has in part liberated Republicans to get in touch with their inner Glenn Beck, creating a hyper-energized, even radical, conservative base while relying on “wrong track” sentiments to pull swing voters in their direction.
That’s why Sharron Angle’s latest tack in the bitter and dead-even NV Senate race is interesting: she’s mainly attacking Harry Reid for something she claims he wants to do in the future, according to this Politico take on the state of that campaign:

Angle’s team believes it has drawn blood over Reid’s stance on illegal immigration, most notably with an ad calling him “the best friend an illegal alien ever had,” and for backing Social Security benefits for illegal immigrants.
That prompted Reid’s campaign this month to launch its first response ad of the campaign against Angle, a sign that some said shows Reid’s awareness of his vulnerability on illegal immigration, an issue on which many independent voters take a hard line.

It’s certainly understandable that Angle would try to exploit popular sentiment on immigration. But it’s also a major distraction from the expected formula of blaming the state of Nevada’s economy, and unpopular enacted legislation of the last four years, on the Senate majority leader. Attacking Reid on what he supposedly wants to to in the future invites Angle’s opponent to enter the land of milk and honey: comparisons between the two candidates’ positions in which Angle, who is far out of touch with mainstream opinion on many, many issues–will not look good.
We’ll see how it all turns out, but on those occasions when Republican candidates stray from the safe ground of “referendum” campaigning and begin inviting comparisons with Democrats on where they would like to take the country, Dems should eagerly comply. We are all pretty sure the Republican Party of the future, once its agenda becomes clear, is not going to be very popular. Bringing that party into the present and making it the opponent is a very good idea.

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