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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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Comment Preferences

  •  Wow look how open minded he is (4+ / 0-)

    he lets Staffers/interns ride in the Senate elevator

    I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

    by JML9999 on Wed May 21, 2014 at 10:18:09 AM PDT

  •  6.11.14; You will work as much as Congress in 2014 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tinfoil Hat, elwior, FarWestGirl

    That's right, according to Speaker Bohner's 2014 calendar, the average American worker will have worked the same number of days as congress is scheduled to work for the entire year.  Of course congress is out from Labor day to after Election day, about 2 months.

    From 1.1.14 to 6.11.14, there will be four legal holidays, New Year's Day, Martin Luther King's Birthday, President's Birthday, and Memorial Day.

    80 % of Success is Just Showing Up!

    by Churchill on Wed May 21, 2014 at 10:24:59 AM PDT

    •  Very surprising! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I thought it would've been more like March 11th.
        Of course, in actual accomplishments, it'd be about a week or two that they work, and that's being generous.

      "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

      by elwior on Wed May 21, 2014 at 11:13:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Churchill - what difference does it make how (0+ / 0-)

      many days Congress is in session? What makes you think there is any correlation between how many days the House is in session and the amount of work any member of Congress accomplishes?  Members of Congress have offices in DC where they work, and offices in their home districts, where they also work. I would like to see them spend even less time in the DC bubble and more time in their districts.

      "let's talk about that" uid 92953

      by VClib on Fri May 23, 2014 at 07:17:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  No shit, Sherlock (6+ / 0-)

    Republicans are the party of the wealthy -- they've never made any secret about that.  Democrats' problem with this approach is that they've blurred the contrast between the parties so much by kowtowing to Wall Street and pursuing austerian policies.

    If Democrats put together a credible jobs and poverty reduction agenda, and showed the stones to beat Republicans over the head with it day after day, voters might give them a chance to show they actually meant it this time.  Trouble for Democrats with that approach is that it would be put up or shut up time for them.

    We have always been at war with al Qaeda.

    by Dallasdoc on Wed May 21, 2014 at 10:28:08 AM PDT

    •  Not In a Midterm, We'll Never Motivate Enough (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior, dagolfnut, Dallasdoc

      voters to win back the gerrymandered House plus hold the Senate and White House.

      It is a huge threat to Democrats in Presidential years though, the last thing they want is the WH and both chambers with expectations of doing anything for the people.

      It's a fine line they walk to maintain a majority with divided government so they can spend most of their energy raising funds to keep doing that.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed May 21, 2014 at 10:42:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  But here's the problem with what you suggest (0+ / 0-)

      Democrats turn out, but only in Presidential years.

      This trend is decades old.

      Why will,people turn out when the president is on the ticket, but not turn out every other year.

      It's not like Democrats change every other year.

      ODS results in Obama's amazing ability to humiliate his biggest critics, on the right and the left.

      by NoFortunateSon on Thu May 22, 2014 at 04:52:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  From Charles Ferguson, creator of the "Inside Job" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Charles Ferguson: The Financial Crisis and America's Political Duopoly

    "...My answer is this: far from being in an era of brutal partisan
    warfare, as convention­al wisdom holds and as watching the nightly
    television news might suggest, the United States is now in the grip of a
    political duopoly in which both parties are thoroughly complicit. They
    play a game: they agree to fight viciously over certain things to retain
    the allegiance of their respective bases, while agreeing not to fight
    about anything that seriously endangers the privileges of America's new
    financial elites. Whether this duopoly will endure, and what to do about
    it, are perhaps the most important questions facing Americans. The
    current arrangemen­t all but guarantees the continuing decline of the
    United States as a nation, and of the welfare of the bottom 90% of its


    People who should be aligned in calling for fairer taxes, campaign
    finance reform, stricter financial regulation, better public education,
    and investment in America's infrastructure are instead divided by their
    opposing views on gun control, abortion, and gay marriage. It is a
    strategy that has worked remarkably well for both parties.

    Even so, the American people have begun to sense that the system is
    rigged, and the recent election results are partially a consequence of

    The USA Bankers Magazine famous quote :
    “If we can divide the electorate this way, we can have them expending
    their energies fighting amongst themselves, over issues that for us,
    have no meaning whatsoever"

    That was from the USA Bankers Magazine, "August 25, 1924" , Yes 1924

    You Don't Happen To Make It. You Make It Happen !

    by jeffrey789 on Wed May 21, 2014 at 01:01:43 PM PDT

  •  Kind of calls for a Howard Beale kind of campaign (4+ / 0-)

    Something like: You work hard, really hard, but you're barely making it. Meanwhile, the ultra-rich and the politicians they own in Washington have done nothing for you or you family. On Election Day, tell the Republicans in Washington that you're mad as hell and you're not going to take it any more.

    Voting is the means by which the public is distracted from the realities of power and its exercise.

    by Anne Elk on Thu May 22, 2014 at 04:38:32 PM PDT

  •  so the Dems are becoming Occupy . . .? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Thomas Twinnings, JeffW

    It'll be a delicate balance, just enough to make the rubes happy, but not actually doing enough to piss off our major corporate donors . . . . .

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Thu May 22, 2014 at 04:38:34 PM PDT

    •  Yeah, that will be the day. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      My grandparents were Depression-Democrats.  They saw for themselves the difference between the parties - they used to say: "The Republicans are the party of the rich, while the Democrats are the party of the middle class (by which they meant the working class)".  Somehow we Democrats have lost the focus where "the workers" know who really represents their interests.  Looking forward, It is difficult to see the Democrats backing away from their corporate donors in order to better represent the working class.  Can they look away from the dollars to focus on the voters?  I doubt it.

      An illusion can never be destroyed directly... SK.

      by Thomas Twinnings on Thu May 22, 2014 at 04:50:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ds can never compete with Thugs for $=your basic (0+ / 0-)

        fallacy.  Thus, Ds will - and are in large part - chasing voters not $

        The mistake which many make is confusing a lack of credible choices with willful corruption.  The bottom line is the corporatists own the think-tanks and all the traditional legitimizers of policy proposals are corporate and thus so are there positions. This is no mistake. See, Potter Stewart's memo in the early 1970s.  (And don't confuse the sources that you trust with those the media and opinion elites trust.  Hence, the continued 'relevancy' of utterly absurd Peterson and Simpson-Bowles b/s.)  Thankfully liberals and Ds have established a few notable beachheads in this regard, but we still have a long way to go to get back to parity let alone the heady days when e.g. Brookings actually meant 'expert'.

        Well, and some folks are hopeless anti-capitalists who confuse America with a commune.  The US is built on capitalism.  The voters will not chose to dismantle it.  But, as FDR proved, they are certainly willing to rein it in.  

        And, as in so many things, the wisdom that looks to the synthesis of seemingly antagonistic thesis is not only likely the most workably correct, but also the most dynamic.

  •  Democrats haven't won big in MidTerms... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    since I don't know when.

    You think they would show up by saying the obvious?

    I suggest you make MidTerms a holiday. Not losing a day's pay will bring more Democrats than any propaganda ever could.

  •  Democrats (4+ / 0-)

    could start by not having their hands out to wealty donors, and acting like a party of working people.  Can't play people's party while protecting Sallie Mae,  Wall Street and making trade deals that mess with working people on six continents.

    •  Or having leaders (0+ / 0-)

      Like Harry Reid whos wealth has grown exponentially while he been in office.  Seems he's a perfect example of the political class enriching themselves through their influence and power.  Oh, and don't forget congress is not bound by insider trading laws. Crooks one and all.

      You best believe it does

      by HangsLeft on Thu May 22, 2014 at 05:33:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  won big in 2006 (5+ / 0-)

    Democrats were pissed so they voted. People are so cynical about politics turnout will be really bad this year. The working guy knows the GOP is screwing them but feel they can't do anything about it.

  •  I like this line of attack. (4+ / 0-)

    Where's it been?  

    Life is good. Injustice? Not so much.

    by westyny on Thu May 22, 2014 at 04:59:37 PM PDT

  •  get the youth out (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, Hirodog

    by making marijuana decriminalization part of the national party platform.

    It polls at over 50% nationally now, the democrats should be leaders not followers on the most important civil rights issue of the day.

  •  A much better ad (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, Caniac41, Hirodog

    would be to have 13 quick clips in 27 of Cruz, Bachman, Gohmbert et al saying stupid, abusive stuff, with the sound increasing; then a blackout, then just the words "You'd better vote."

    "Guns don't kill people. People in states without gun-purchase background checks & waiting periods kill people." --John Fugelsang

    by Artryst on Thu May 22, 2014 at 05:32:22 PM PDT

  •  They would also do well to point out all the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    protections professionals get through licensing and local, state, federal requirements for work that requires licensed individuals. I'm in the surveying business. A few years ago Texas set very stringent requirements to do boundary work. Emboldened by this, the few who are licensed tried to take away construction grade surveying from regular folks. This is but one example of how elites bash working folks. Is there any difference between a license to stamp a boundary survey or a union card? Absolutely not. They are both credentials used by working people.

  •  Somebody tell the bosses (4+ / 0-)

    I agree that the Republicans are the party of the wealthy. Now, if we could just get our own leaders to stop crapping on that message.

    The president recently came to my part of the country and visited a Wal*Mart to praise their environmental record, outraging real Democrats like Robert Reich.  And Hillary Clinton can't resist those six figure speech fees she gets for telling Wall Street hedge fund managers how wonderful they are.  Bill is even worse; any criticism of his billionaire friends drives him wild and the idea that a banker should ever be prosecuted strikes him like something Robespierre would say.

    If Democrats want to run a pro-middle-class campaign, they have to risk alienating the big money donors and get off of the corporate teat.  Everybody running for office: go listen to Elizabeth Warren for a while, and try talking like her.

  •  if voters know it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    when will they start voting their personal self interests and not fall for the social bigotry game.

  •  That's nice that dems are (0+ / 0-)

    working on their message.

    Any chance of getting some dem policies implemented?  I'm kind of done with the message part of the whole election thing.

    The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

    by dfarrah on Thu May 22, 2014 at 06:40:44 PM PDT

  •  It the populism that Thugs hyjacked with fake T, (0+ / 0-)

    finally retaken - if they follow the frakking data - by Ds.

    It doesn't mean Ds are going to barbeque the bankers and CEOs... well, most of them.  It means if corporate America and the Rich want their perks they have to pay for them to the rest of us.  

    The way it used to be under the pre-Reagan American social contract that was forged thru 100 years of hard struggle here and abroad... oh and btw, made the American Dream a reality for tens of millions of Americans and a real possibility for many of the rest (with obvious and shameful exceptions since addressed in many ways by, you guessed it, the Democratic party).

    Fingers crossed.

  •  Republicans are the party of the (0+ / 0-)


    Voters not similarly afflicted have already put that together.

    The remainder are "the base" and not so easily convinced.

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