As I reported the other day, Dem leaders are planning an aggressive effort during the August recess and beyond to draw attention to the House GOP lawsuit against President Obama and turn it into a positive in the 2014 elections. The idea is to cast the GOP as extreme and committed to destructive governing — and contrast that with Dems’ concrete economic policy agenda, to lure disaffected swing voters and get out Dem voter groups to offset that hideous “midterm dropoff problem” Dems face.
Americans say 58 percent to 34 percent that the GOP should not sue Obama, and moderates agree 67-22. Moderates also say by a 50-25 margin that the lawsuit makes them more likely to back Democrats in 2014.
What’s even worse for Republicans when it comes to both impeachment and the lawsuit is that they don’t even have the effect you might think on the GOP base. They do, however, motivate liberals…on the lawsuit matter, liberals are 9 points more motivated to back Democrats (72 percent) than conservatives are to back Republicans (63 percent).
The poll also finds that 88 percent of Democrats say the lawsuit would make them more likely to vote for their side, while 78 percent of Republicans say the same. What’s more, only tea party-aligned Republicans support the lawsuit, while even non-tea party Republicans tilt against it. So this effort may scratch the hard-right GOP base’s impeachment itch, but it could end up motivating Democrats more.
You should never place too much stock in one poll, and it’s hard to say what this will mean, if anything. But such findings are worth noting to understand what Dems are really up to this year. With multiple signs indicating that Dem voter groups — unmarried women, minorities, the young — will likely be less motivated than GOP groups, that means an older, whiter electorate than in presidential years, even as Dems defend Senate seats in seven states carried by Mitt Romney.
So Dems are essentially adopting a “kitchen sink” strategy, which is to say, they are throwing everything they can find at the problem. The multiple votes on pocketbook issues such as the minimum wage and pay equity are designed to create a policy blueprint for Dems and a contrast that gives minorities and women a reason to vote. The hard push on women’s health and Personhood is about appealing to unmarried and suburban moderate women. Highlighting the GOP lawsuit is partly about motivating core Obama supporters, such as African Americans, who could represent as many as half of Dem voters in several crucial Senate races.
Of course, what will matter most in offsetting the midterm drop-off problem is the grunt work of contacting voters and urging them to vote — again, and again, and again, until they…get out and vote, no matter how unenthusiastic they are about it. And as even Republican pollster Neil Newhouse has acknowledged, Dems have gotten very good at doing that grunt work these days.
* ON IMMIGRATION, TEA PARTY RUNS THE GOP: Jonathan Weisman has a good piece recapping the basic history that many still refuse to acknowledge: Immigration reform died because GOP leaders bowed to the right and killed it:
In a primary season that once promised to be bloody, only three Republican incumbents were defeated. No Republican senator lost, and no conservative whose words could hurt the party in the fall was nominated. But on Capitol Hill, the Tea Party wing continues to drive the party’s agenda. Last winter, as House Republican leaders drafted their “principles” for immigration overhaul, they largely disregarded the opponents of any form of legal status for immigrants in the country illegally, dismissing them as a loud but small minority. When that faction vocally opposed the principles, Mr. Boehner put the effort in cold storage rather than highlight the divisions in his conference — even as he mocked Republicans who feared moving forward with immigration legislation.
Yup. Many GOP-aligned constituencies supported reform, and GOP leaders themselves said they were open to legalization. But they killed it rather than angering a small but angry right wing faction heading into an election year.
* GOP SHIFTS RIGHT ON IMMIGRATION: The above story has a great moment detailing that GOP Rep. Steve King, Michele Bachmann, and Mo “war on whites” Brooks essentially dictated that the House GOP pass a bill deporting the DREAMers in response to the border crisis:
Just days after helping write the House’s only immigration policy bill of the year, Mr. Brooks made waves again when he spoke of a “war on whites that’s being launched by the Democratic Party” to the conservative radio show host Laura Ingraham. Mr. King was caught on tape grabbing the arm of a young immigrant who grew up in Arizona and was granted legal status by the president’s order. “You’re very good at English, you know what I’m saying?” he told the immigrant, a graduate of Arizona State University.
The only immigration bill of the year produced by Republicans was authored by King, Bachmann, and Brooks. What could go wrong?
* WILL GOP MAKE BIG ISSUE OF IMMIGRATION IN 2014? Steve Benen points out that Republicans have been vowing to use immigration to attack vulnerable Senate Dem incumbents in this fall’s elections.
Now that the border crisis has forced the GOP way to the right on the issue, will Republicans really make good on this vow? As far as I can tell, there are ads from Tom Cotton against Mark Pryor in Arkansas and Terri Lynn Land against Gary Peters in Michigan. Are there any others? Please tell us what you’re seeing out there, readers.
* DEMS WARN OBAMA ON IRAQ: Worth watching: Dem Senator Tim Kaine says Obama must seek Congressional authorization for the air campaign against ISIS:
“This is especially the case since the president has indicated that our renewed military engagement in Iraq could be a long-term project,” Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, said in a statement. “I have long stressed that Congress must formally approve the initiation of significant military action,” the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee added.
With more Dems joining this chorus, the question is how long the current posture of many liberals and Democrats — support the humanitarian dimensions of the current campaign while signaling deep discomfort with any long term military engagement — will hold.
* BIG STAKES FOR SCOTT WALKER IN 2014: Sean Sullivan has a good piece on the serious reelection challenge Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker faces, including this:
No other potential 2016 hopeful has as much riding on the midterm election as Walker. If he wins on Nov. 4, he will be well-positioned to move toward a campaign for president as a hero of the right and a proven swing state victor. But a loss would vanquish him from the short list and mark the end of a tumultuous tenure as governor of one the country’s most politically divided states.
The stakes are also high for the conservative movement, which has held him up as a leading example of what can be accomplished (if you can call it that) when an unabashed conservative agenda is implemented on the state level. Walker is up three.
* DID THE KOCH BROTHERS GIVE UP ON MICHIGAN? The Washington Examiner reports:
Their group, Freedom Partners, this week canceled its reserved television air time in Michigan for the remainder of the summer and the fall, according to one Democrat who monitors ad buys — effectively conceding the fight in a state some Republicans are cautiously optimistic could turn in their favor.
The Koch-founded Americans for Prosperity spent big bucks on ads attacking Dem Gary Peters, but there were signs that Koch spending was becoming a liability for GOP candidate Terri Lynn Land. She is trailing by four points.
* AND THE HILLARY-OBAMA SCHISM IS OVERBLOWN: As the controversy over Hillary Clinton’s comments to Jeffrey Goldberg continues to rage, Sam Stein punctures the latest Beltway balloon:
While Obama clearly moved slower than Clinton wanted, he did end up sending arms to the rebels — even if he thought it was futile. In June, he asked for $500 million more. Clinton also firmly backed the president’s push to launch military strikes in September 2013 — strikes that were called off when it became clear the president lacked congressional support, and a separate deal to rid the country of chemical weapons emerged. And while Clinton may have expressed regret that the administration moved slowly to put its imprint on Syria’s civil war, she peppered her position with skepticism (“I totally understand the cautions that we had to contend with”) and drew limits to U.S. involvement.
Of course, for liberals, a lot of this is driven by memories of 2008, when Clinton did try to out-hawk Obama, which didn’t work out that well, so it’s understandable that liberals would be watching Clinton closely for signs of a repeat performance.