Democrat strategy memo
In their latest strategy memo for Democrats, James Carville and pollster Stan Greenberg are forced to make two important admissions:
- Bush's poll numbers have improved, especially with the conservative base.
- Democrats still have not been able to take advantage of the GOP's problems.
Bush has improved his standing modestly in the last month, particularly with conservatives and past Bush voters, but produced no change whatsoever in the number of intense supporters or intense opponents. In short, nothing has happened to change the structure of the race, diminish the desire for change or reduce the Democrats’ lead in the races for the U.S. House and Senate. In fact, there is some evidence that the ongoing debate on Iraq has increased the Democratic margin.You can go read the whole thing here, and they also have a new "Democracy Corps" poll.
That argues for Democrats not being distracted from their main strategic task – how to bring up their vote and margin to the level that one would expect given the tumultuous political mood in the country. Democrats are doing well – ahead by 9 points in the real congressional (not generic) ballot and at 51 percent of the vote. But they need to do better to win control. Fortunately, 63 percent believe the country is on the wrong track, 57 percent want a significantly different direction than Bush’s and another 57 percent support virtually every Democratic message tested in comparison with the Republicans. Democrats’ 9-point vote margin is about half of the margin they get when testing the key choices before the country.
The Democrats need to catch up with the country, which wants to vote for outsiders, is demanding change and ready to respond to the Democrats’ message and definition of the election. All things considered, this is not a bad problem to have, but it requires a new intensity and focus to grab ahold of the forces for change and take the Democrats to a new level.
The conventional wisdom, as usual, is wrong. This was supposed to be the year that Democrats took back the House -- not going to happen. Instead, the Republican Senate (which the conventional wisdom said would be safe) is in serious danger, as Robert Novak points out today:
Rick Santorum remains far behind in Pennsylvania. Conrad Burns is in trouble in Montana. Jim Talent trails in Missouri. Mike DeWine is threatened by a noxious Republican atmosphere in Ohio. Lincoln Chafee is endangered in Democratic Rhode Island. Jon Kyl faces a surprisingly tough race in Arizona. Despite excellent candidates in Minnesota and Washington state, no Republican challenging for a Democratic-held Senate seat is in the lead. Thus, a six-seat takeover capturing the Senate is possible.The reason why the GOP is relatively safe in the House, but endangered in the Senate is simple: Immigration. Republican senators pushed for amnesty, but the House GOP stopped them cold. Yet, as Novak reports, Graham still doesn't get it:
Graham is one conservative Republican who supports President Bush on immigration. He and Bush advisers agree that the immigration hard line may alienate the Hispanic vote with disastrous consequences. But Graham has little backing at the White House for a softened party line on global warming and entitlement reform that includes greater contributions by upper-income Americans.Fool! If you can't win with your voters, how are you going to win with theirs?
In other words, Republican voters support strengthening the borders -- win those votes now. You can worry later about how to win over Democrat-supporting immigrants (almost all immigrant groups, historically, support Democrats in the first and second generations).
Because Republican voters oppose the "path to citizenship," this majority, if mobilized, will prevent most illegals from gaining citizenship, thus effectively reducing the future base of the Democrats. Graham's folly -- the claim that the Republican Party can win votes any time soon from illegal immigrants and their supporters -- is based on nothing more than misleading and self-serving myths promoted by the business lobbies that want cheap labor.
If Graham speaks for the Senate Republican leadership, smart conservative donors won't waste money trying to save endangered GOP seats in the Senate, especially those -- like DeWine and Chafee -- who voted for the amnesty bill. To elect Republican senators merely to empower amnesty-supporting sellouts like Graham would be to reinforce a losing strategy. Instead, smart conservatives will concentrate their efforts on protecting those senators, like Kyl of Arizona, who voted against the amnesty, and on ensuring that conservatives maintain control of the House.