Battling a tough political climate, party chairman Tim Kaine said that Democrats will frame themselves as the “results party” in the 2010 election and the the Democratic National Committee would spend “north of” $50 million to turn out voters – especially new voters – seeking to maintain the Democrats' majority status in Congress.
“This election is going to be about a choice,” Mr. Kaine told a Monitor-sponsored lunch for reporters. "One party put the economy into a ditch, stood by and watched it collapse, not really willing to pull the rip cord on the parachute. The president has come in and taken bold action ... to turn the economy around, to start climbing again, to tackle big problems that have bedeviled earlier administrations.”
Since the days of President Teddy Roosevelt, the average president in his first midterm election has lost 28 House seats and four Senate seats, as well as governors’ races. Kaine said he warns Democrats he meets during his travels that “if that is the average, since we are not living in average times,we have to assume that headwind is even a bit stiffer.”
Kaine declined to predict how many seats Democrats would lose in November’s congressional elections. “We are going to perform in the midterms in such a way that the president will have strong majorities in both houses going into the second half of his first term. And exactly what those majorities will be and what the numbers will be, you know it is a long way between now and November," he said. "We are going to hold onto both houses and make sure that he has the majorities he needs to work with.”
A new ABC News-Washington Post Poll shows how challenging the election climate is for Democrats, who are defending majorities in the US House and Senate as well as governors’ mansions. The Post poll of registered voters (with a margin of error of 3.5 percent) found that:
- Nearly 6 in 10 registered voters said they will look for someone new in the fall elections, rather than voting for an incumbent.
- More Americans "strongly" disapproved than strongly approved of President Obama's performance on the economy (39 percent versus 24 percent), on financial regulation (33 versus 22 percent), and especially on the deficit (42 versus 20 percent).
- Americans by 56-40 percent said they preferred smaller government with fewer services – but by an overwhelming 77-to-15 percent, voters said Mr. Obama prefers the opposite: larger government with more services.
When asked whether there was a risk in the party selling “results” when many Americans disapproved of Obama’s policies, Kaine responded, “There is never a risk to be running on results.”
“Democrats under President Obama’s leadership have been a results party, and that is what Americans want,” Kaine argued. “The Republicans, on the other hand, have been a party of obstruction…. We think Americans will reward results rather than obstruction, and we think we have a capacity to do much better in these midterms than a lot of people think.”
The Monitor has issued numerous invitations to Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele to appear at a breakfast or lunch for reporters. To date, he has not accepted.