Democrat's class warfare pitch 'fizzling'
Income inequality, minimum wage hike, the Koch brothers - this is what we've heard from the Democrats all year as they seek to hold off the GOP in November by playing the class warfare card.
It's not working, says Bernie Becker of The Hill:
President Obama’s populist economic pitch is fizzling.
The White House hoped to hammer Republicans this year on an array of pocketbook issues centered on hiking the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, an effort meant to appeal to independents and rally Democrats to the polls.ADVERTISEMENT
Three months in, Obama’s approval ratings are flailing in the low 40s, and Senate Democrats haven’t even been able to unify their 55 members on a minimum wage bill.
That’s made it tougher to contrast the positions of Democrats with Republicans in an election year that is shaping up to be about the healthcare law and Obama.
“You always want a contrast. It’s always better to have votes to run on, and there hasn’t been a lot to run on so far,” said Jim Manley, a former spokesman to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) who is now with QGA Public Affairs. “Republicans have done a good job stalling the debate on the Hill.”
Senate Democrats, according to independent projections, could easily lose the six seats needed to give the GOP a majority of the upper chamber. And House Democrats, who once talked up winning back the chamber, could now easily lose seats.
Blaming the GOP for the lack of a Senate vote on the minimum wage sidesteps the point that Democrats themselves haven’t unified around a single bill. For example, Sen. Mark Pryor (Ark.), a vulnerable Democrat running this year, has balked at raising the minimum wage to $10.10.
There’s been some talk of pushing a Senate vote on the minimum wage back into the week after next, though a leadership aide stressed that Democrats still wanted to bring the measure to the floor next week.
Democrats acknowledge their message hasn’t caught fire with voters.
But they also insist that economic pitch is the best they’ve got to counter the consistent Republican drumbeat on ObamaCare, and that this brand of populism worked in Obama’s 2012 reelection over GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
It's pretty basic: People aren't buying what the Democrats are selling. And what's really worrying for Dems is that their own base is dispirited and is not responding to the message:
"There is a huge turnout disadvantage and challenge," Democratic pollster Celinda Lake said Tuesday at a breakfast with reporters. "There is always a challenge in turnout in an off year, but it's really dramatic this time."
Lake was speaking a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. Lake and Republican pollster Ed Goeas revealed results of a new George Washington University poll that showed GOP voter intensity in 2014 outpacing Democratic intensity by seven points.
The poll indicated that 64% of Republicans say they are "extremely likely" to vote in November's midterms, compared with 57% of Democrats.
"I think we saw it play out in the Florida special," Lake said, referring to the GOP's special election victory earlier this month in Florida's 13th Congressional district. She called the Republican turnout machine in that race "darn effective," and said Democrats should not underestimate the GOP's get-out-the-vote operation this year.
"There are some people on our side who gloat about the Democrats' turnout advantage and kind of miss the Republican turnout operation," she said. "We tend to be dismissive of it, but it was very effective."
Bashing the Koch brothers may be a good fundraising technique but it hardly registers as far as mid-term polls. If Obama can't rally the troops using his tried and true, "divide and conquer" war against the rich, something truly historic may happen at the polls in November.