Democratic pollsters: Ignore the tea party

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Two top Democratic strategists said Thursday the party would be wasting its time reaching out to “tea party” voters who played a critical role in the 2010 midterm races.

“Democrats can’t co-op the tea party [voters],” pollster and Democracy Corps co-founder Stan Greenberg told reporters at a breakfast Thursday sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. “They’re not a swing bloc, and Democrats shouldn’t try.”

Mr. Greenberg said exit polls showed that the vast majority of tea party activists were already core Republican voters, and President Obama and the Democrats will not be able to attract their support even if they moderate their policies or focus on tea party issues such as federal spending and the deficit over the next two years.

James Carville, a political adviser to former President Clinton and also a Democracy Corp co-founder, added, “The future of the Democratic Party is not with the tea party.”

“We don’t have to deal with them. They’re not going to be for us.”

Tea Party Patriot, and Captain America, Jim Griffen, of Fort Washington, Md., takes part in an election day demonstration on the lawn of the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

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Tea Party Patriot, and Captain America, Jim Griffen, of Fort Washington, Md., ... more >

The two Democratic strategists repeated their past criticisms of the party’s message in the recent midterms, which saw Republicans capture the House of Representatives and boost their numbers in the Senate and in the nation’s statehouses.

Mr. Greenberg said Mr. Obama’s oft-employed campaign trail image of the country as a car driven into the ditch by Republicans before he took office was a “total misframing of the moment,” when voters were angry about the economy and scared about their personal job prospects.

“A metaphor about a car in the ditch when people are in trouble and angry at Wall Street is just out of touch with what is going on,” Mr. Greenberg said.

Still, Mr. Carville said Mr. Obama and the Democrats will face a much more favorable playing field in 2012, when a larger turnout will mean an electorate with more young voters, more minority voters and more unmarried voters than was true in the recent midterm vote — all constituencies that lean Democratic.

“The deck [President Obama] plays with in 2012 will be fundamentally better than the one he dealt with in 2012,” Mr. Carville said.


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About the Author
David R. Sands

David R. Sands

Raised in Northern Virginia, David R. Sands received an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He worked as a reporter for several Washington-area business publications before joining The Washington Times.

At The Times, Mr. Sands has covered numerous beats, including international trade, banking, politics ...

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