The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has issued a memo to 2010 Democratic Senate candidates--in the wake of the DSCC's disastrous loss in Massachusetts--with a basic playbook for defeating Republican candidates in 2010.
The message: get your opponent on-record on a host of issues that divide conservatives from the mainstream.
The idea is that Republican candidates will be forced to support things like eliminating the Department of Education in order to pander to libertarian-minded conservative activists, who could be more influential in 2010 than at any point in recent history--or at least that not supporting those things will cost them conservative support. If Democrats get their opponents to go on the record on a host of sensitive issues, the DSCC postulates, Republican candidates will have to choose what to forfeit: general-election viability, or primary backing of the increasingly mobilized conservative wing of the GOP.
It's the basic concept of a wedge issue: using a divisive topic to sow discord in your opponents' ranks and peel support away from them.
The memo is a more elaborate articulation of what the national Democratic message machine has done, seeking to pressure candidates, for instance, on whether or not they align themselves with Sarah Palin. It also continues a line of Democratic thinking on 2010 forwarded by senior White House adviser David Axelrod: that Democrats will have to tell voters that they have a choice between two alternatives--what the Democratic and Republican parties offer, respectively--and not allow the election to be a referendum on what the administration has managed to achieve in its first two years.