How messy are this year's midterms going to be, exactly? The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza winces preemptively upon reading a memo from National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn this morning. Cornyn, he notices, is encouraging Republican candidates to campaign on health care:
despite an extremely positive last week of press for Obama and congressional Democrats on health care, Republican leaders still believe it is an issue that plays well for them on the campaign trail and one they are urging candidates to emphasize.
At the same time, that "extremely positive last week" has left Democrats convinced that campaigning on health care, and winning the debate about it, should be their strategy too. "Can you say 'collision course'?" Cillizza asks. A few predictions on the coming conflict.
- 'Old Arguments, New Stakes' Says ABC's Rick Klein: "Democrats weren't actually losing before the health care law passed--it only felt that way." Granted, "there is, of course, something to actually sell now."
- Where Does the 'Repeal' Part Come In? Hotline's Reid Wilson also looks through the Cornyn GOP memo, and notices it doesn't mention the much-trumpeted effort to repeal the health care legislation.
- Concrete Health Care Results May Make This Unspinnable "Real experience with ObamaCare, as with the stimulus plan, may cement voters’ take on the legislation," says conservative Jennifer Rubin at Commentary. "The risk with overselling and misrepresenting to the voters either a candidate or a piece of legislation is that sooner or later they catch on." Of course--though Rubin doesn't mention this--partisans on both sides of the issue might make this argument.
- Going by Numbers: Not Clear Who Will Win This War "I'm not sure," writes poll-watcher Nate Silver on Sunday, "that there's yet been enough time to assess whether the Democrats' passage of health care reform seven days ago could mitigate--or broaden--their losses." The only clear good news for the Democrats, he argues, is that they've closed the "enthusiasm gap" so that now their base is roughly as energized as the Republican base.