Messaging Trend: Dems Warn of a GOP Takeover

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Democrats might just be hearing the footsteps: amid continuing predictions of Republican gains this fall, Democrats have taken to warning supporters of a return to GOP rule.


Case in point: last night, an e-mail went out to Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee supporters from Vice President Joe Biden with the subject line "1994"; in it, Biden warned that "Republican strategists think they can turn 2010 into 1994. They think they can take control of the Senate and undermine President Obama in the process. We have just four months to prove them wrong."

A new web video from MoveOn.org attacking House Minority Leader John Boehner, meanwhile, frames its criticisms by warning that, "As speaker of the House, he'd..."

And after Congressman Joe Barton's apology to BP, Democrats were quick to point out that Barton, as the top Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee, would be chairman if Republicans took over, thus overseeing energy-related matters in the House. Politico noted last week that Rahm Emanuel and Joe Gibbs got in on the Barton-as-chairman angle. (It turns out, as Dave Weigel reported, that because House Republicans rotate chairmanships, Barton isn't actually in line to become chairman.)

The threat of a GOP takeover has loomed for some time (in February, Charlie Cook said he didn't think Democrats would hold onto their majorities), but Democrats seem to have ramped up the what-happens-if-Republicans-take-over line of attack recently.

For Republicans, it's an encouraging sign. For Democrats, such a messaging shift can be a good thing, and the threat of a GOP takeover, strangely, plays into their broader messaging strategy for the 2010 elections. These warnings can be more powerful than basic cheerleading for making the current majorities even bigger, and David Axelrod has said that the game plan for 2010 will be to pose the two parties as alternatives for the country; if there's a chance that the Republican alternative could actually be realized, that message is more readily employed.
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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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