Kal ZoneBlog

Democratic enthusiasm gap?

September 22, 2010

Conventional wisdom says that a fired-up Tea Party, and a sagging economy, will sweep the GOP back into power in the midterm elections.

Conventional wisdom says that Democrats are discouraged and defeated, now that the Republicans have a 41-to-59 advantage in the Senate and can stifle anything put forward by Democrats — thus showing the Democrats to be totally ineffectual. (Republicans, as the opposition party, are considered free of blame in this scenario of legislative gridlock.)

Much has been written about the GOP strategy of firing up its base.

Less has been said about the complementary GOP strategy of discouraging and disheartening Democratic voters. The message is: you Democrats are losers; you may as well stay home on November 2.

This is called "psyching out the opponent".

It is well known that a low turnout favors the GOP, so the message that keeps being pounded in the media is that Democrats need to feel discouraged and defeated — about their lack of legislative achievement, about the supposedly widespread popular resistance to their policies (especially health care reform), about Obama's flagging popularity (which is actually comparable to previous presidents at this stage of their terms), about their incumbency in an anti-incumbent climate, about the economy's inability to create jobs, about the ferocity of the opposition, about dissention in the party's ranks, etc, etc.

That's this year's story. In the 2000 election, the story was, "Democrats are no different from Republicans, so you may as well stay home." (That messaging strategy was backed up by hard-core voter suppression tactics, such as Florida's questionable purges of the voter rolls.)

If potential voters buy these stories and stay home, GOP wins. But you don't have to buy them. Go vote on November 2.

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