The “Koch addition” approach is rooted in a strategic imperative Dems face: How can they create a framework within which voters will believe what they are saying about the real policy agenda Republicans are campaigning on? […] Polls show majorities agree with Dems on specific policies they’re campaigning on—the minimum wage; unemployment benefits; etc. But that’s bumping up against the structural reality that Senate control will largely be decided in seven states carried by Mitt Romney in 2012.Sargent points out that this filters down to local issues, with the example of Republican Tom Cotton in Arkansas toeing the Koch line of opposing the farm bill, despite the many programs in the law that support Arkansas communities. The campaign is also highlighting the fact that two of the top Republicans running to take on Sen. Mark Begich in November, Dan Sullivan, the former commissioner of the state Department of Natural Resources, and Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, have let the Koch brothers off the hook when they shut down an oil refinery in the state and allegedly left without cleaning up the pollution they created.
The challenge Dems say they face is to get voters to focus on actual positions held by GOP candidates, and on the fact that those positions are not in their economic interests. Why do these candidates oppose raising the minimum wage, or extending unemployment insurance, or expanding Medicaid, all of which would benefit so many people in the states they would represent? Republicans may claim a legitimate rationale for these positions, but the question is, how do you get voters to focus on the fact that these are really their positions?
Highlighting the fealty these Republican candidates have to the billionaire Koch brothers helps on a number of levels. It's big money billionaires trying to buy a Senate. It's big money billionaires trying to kill policies that will help the middle class. It's big money billionaires from out of state trying to meddle in local politics. As Sargent says, this gives Democrats a framework for showing, in stark relief, the contrast of the Democrats' and tea party's vision for the nation.