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Strategists advise Democrats to skip the ‘tea party’

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Two top Democratic strategists said Thursday that 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" to win their support.

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

James Carville, a former political adviser to Bill Clinton and a Democracy Corps 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."

The two Democratic strategists repeated their criticisms of the party's campaign message for elections this month in which Republicans captured control of the House of Representatives and boosted 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.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs brushed off the criticism.

"It is unclear to me what the difference in the election would have been, reading Stan's memos versus what the president was saying," he said.

Still, Mr. Carville, who published a book last year forecasting a 40-year political dominance for the Democratic Party in the wake of the 2008 vote, predicted Thursday that Mr. Obama and other Democrats would face a much more favorable playing field in 2012, when a larger turnout would mean an electorate with more young voters, more minority voters and more unmarried voters - all constituencies that lean Democratic.

"The deck [Mr. Obama] plays with in 2012 will be fundamentally better than the one he dealt with in 2010," 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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