When it comes to the politics of national security, Republicans and Democrats are worlds apart. Not only do they differ on the threat posed by Islamic terrorism and the appropriate tactics to defeat it, but they don't even agree—at least publicly—on how significant an issue it will be in the presidential election.
Hillary Clinton barely touched on foreign affairs in her lengthy campaign relaunch last week, while her advisers are confidently proclaiming that 2016 won't be a national security election. Meanwhile, nearly every Republican presidential candidate emphasizes the emerging threats abroad in their stump speeches. The approach mirrors where the party's supporters are: Republicans ranked fighting terrorism as more important than the economy in January's Pew Research Center polling. Slightly more Democrats rated income inequality and wage equity as more significant issues than "the situation with Islamic militants," which ranked only sixth among top priorities in a fall 2014 Gallup survey.
This disconnect between the two parties' strategies on the subject is remarkable. Even when partisans deeply disagree on policy prescriptions, there's often a general consensus when it comes to political tactics. But on national security, Republicans are convinced that Hillary Clinton will have trouble answering for the Obama administration's persistent weaknesses on the issue, while Democratic strategists believe that voters are much more focused on bread-and-butter economic issues, and those most alarmed about the rise of ISIS would be voting Republican anyways.