A Quinnipiac University poll in January ranked, in order, the three issues voters cared about the most: the economy, the federal budget deficit, and health care. Not included on the list? Charles and David Koch.
And therein lies the dilemma for Democrats, who of late have turned the full fury and might of their political operation against the billionaire brothers from Kansas. Can they persuade voters to care about two private citizens whom regular people have barely heard of — especially when the country's still underwhelming job market has many of those same people more worried about just getting by?
It's not as if the Koch brothers are peripheral to the 2014 midterm elections. Their most visible political group, Americans for Prosperity, has spent roughly $30 million pummeling Democrats, mostly senators up for reelection, for their support of Obamacare. With good reason, Democrats worry that money has fundamentally shifted the 2014 map in the GOP's favor, especially in Southern battlegrounds such as Louisiana and North Carolina.
But if the Kochs are a story this election, the Democratic political machine is trying to make them the story. The party has tipped its hand in major articles published in The New York Times and the Associated Press. Harry Reid is blistering AFP's ads in stem-winding Senate floor speeches. (The majority leader afterward had to back off his accusation that all of their ads are lies.) Emails from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee now include a marquee that says, "The GOP is 'Addicted to Koch!' " Just last week, in his campaign's first TV ad, Alaska's Mark Begich blasted the two men by name for running what he called misleading advertisements against him.