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U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) (C) departs the Senate floor after a late-night vote rejected budget legislation from the Republican-controlled House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, September 30, 2013. The U.S. government was on the edg
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) shut down the government to try to repeal Obamacare. He gets his health coverage from his Wall Street executive wife's job.
Many groups of heavily Democratic voters tend to stay home during midterm elections, providing Democrats with a serious challenge for 2014. House Democrats are trying to combat that with a major research project aiming to figure out how to get Democratic drop-off voters to the polls in November. The most effective message they're finding is a familiar one from 2012: Republicans represent the wealthy and don't care much about working families.

Issues like the minimum wage may draw strong support, but it's that image, embodied so beautifully by Mitt Romney in 2012 but no less true in 2014, that actually makes people want to go out and vote:

In doing the research, Democratic consultants tested several advertisements with voters and found that the most effective one featured a fictitious Republican congressman who backed the government shutdown but continued to collect his check while the House gym remained open. It accused the make-believe House member of being more interested in the perquisites of office than representing his constituents.

Democrats said the advertising response showed that while the shutdown seems like history in current political terms, it remains a powerful negative for Republicans when it is linked to the benefits of office.

Democrats can use this fundamental distrust of Republican motives—totally justified by Republican actions—to get people to vote by focusing on economic issues like equal pay, corporate taxes, and jobs. Which is great! Democrats are looking at data and it's telling them to stand firm on economic issues, to be Democrats. Actually overcoming the tendency of Democratic voters to be non-voters in midterm years will be tough, and probably not a one-cycle project. But campaigning based on sharp distinctions between the parties and trying to turn out actual Democratic voters is so much better than hoping that running as Republican-lite will lure swing voters.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Wed May 21, 2014 at 10:11 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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