September 2, 2014
President Barack Obama arrives to speak about the murder of journalist James Foley during a press briefing at the press filing center at the Edgartown School in Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard, MA, USA, on 20 August 2014. The Islamic State (IS) militia released a video on 19 August 2014 purporting to show the decapitation of US photojournalist James Foley, who went missing in Syria in November 2012. EPA/Rick Friedman / POOL
President Obama. (Rick Friedman/European Pressphoto Agency)

Now that Labor Day has passed, the 2014 campaign season is officially underway.  By any measure, the Republicans seem to have the advantage and are poised to take control of the Senate in the midterm elections.  The Democrats are struggling on just about every front.  They do not have a credible economic agenda, and under President Obama, our country’s foreign policy has gone from bewildering to frightening.

Of course, we’ll hear the standard Democratic talking points about increasing the minimum wage, making students loans “more affordable,” legislating equal pay (whatever that means) etc. – all their usual, warmed-over pledges to deliver someone else’s money to their voters if elected.

Given that the Democrats don’t have much to be for, and certainly can’t run on their record, the 2014 campaign is destined to be viciously negative.  Here is what I see as the Democrats’ five-part campaign plan:

  1. Frighten seniors. If it is the fall of an even-numbered year, you can be certain that Democrats will be running ads saying that Republicans want to take away seniors’ Social Security.  You can set your watch by it.  The National Journal’s Michael Tanner matter-of-factly examines the Democratic ads so far this cycle that accuse “Republicans of wanting to destroy Social Security and Medicare.” Typical.
  1. Anger African Americans.  An angry voter is a motivated voter.  The New York Times’ Jonathan Martin wrote this weekend that, “At risk in Senate, Democrats seek to rally blacks.”  Martin states that Democrats are using the events in Ferguson, Mo., as a means to “urge black voters to channel their anger by voting Democratic in the midterm elections.”  The manipulation of Ferguson to favor one political party over the other may be the cynical low point of the 2014 midterm elections – and that is saying something.
  1. Drive turnout among Latino voters. The GOP can’t seem to get anything right with Latino voters.  And unfortunately, as readers of the Insiders know, a bumper sticker beats an essay. Tea partiers and angry voters on the right have captured the word “amnesty,” making it a powerful bumper sticker.  Anyone who suggests taking sensible steps to reform immigration is hit with the charge of being pro-amnesty.  Being for any type of immigration reform is pure poison in the Republican Party these days. This has kept the party from having a coherent and friendly message, leaving Latino voters with the impression that Republicans just don’t care about their votes.
  2. Hide from white voters. The president’s disapproval rating among white voters is dismal.  The latest Economist/YouGov poll shows that 63 percent of white voters “disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as president” — compared to 24 percent of black voters and 40 percent of Hispanic voters. Unless you are a rich, white urbanite living on the East Coast or the West Coast, Democratic candidates don’t want any face time with you in 2014.
  3. Pray that foreign policy won’t matter. As more and more conflicts escalate around the world, it is becoming more and more obvious that Obama is incapable of providing leadership.  His admission last week that “we don’t have a strategy” for dealing with the Islamic State reinforced that image.  Foreign policy doesn’t usually drive votes, but if people begin to feel threatened at home that could change everything.

Throw in a weekly yawner about the GOP War on Women and presto, you have the Democratic campaign plan for the fall.

If a 100 percent negative approach is all the Democrats have to offer voters over the next nine weeks, the GOP message that “we are not the other guys” just might be enough.

Follow Ed on Twitter: @EdRogersDC

Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.