Stick to the mes­sage

Business Day - - OPINION -

With less than a month un­til the midterm US elec­tions, it’s time for Democrats to hun­ker down and get se­ri­ous about their mes­sag­ing. In the dispir­it­ing af­ter­math of the Supreme Court con­fir­ma­tion cir­cus, this means tak­ing a cou­ple of deep breaths, not flip­ping out over the Repub­li­cans’ pur­ported “Ka­vanaugh bounce” (which might be more of a hic­cup) and fo­cus­ing on a few key is­sues that res­onate with a broad swathe of vot­ers.

Repub­li­cans are twitchy about their elec­toral prospects. They know that midterm elec­tions tend to go poorly for the party that holds the White House, just as they are aware that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, while beloved by the base, has a pop­u­lar­ity prob­lem among the wider elec­torate. As part of this base-stroking, Repub­li­cans are ea­ger to keep the de­bate rag­ing over their freshly con­firmed, ul­tra-po­lar­is­ing Supreme Court jus­tice Brett Ka­vanaugh. The bru­tal fight to seat him, which mor­phed from an in­quiry into the ju­di­cial fit­ness of one man into a cul­ture-war cage match over women’s rights and shift­ing sex­ual mores, elec­tri­fied many left-lean­ing vot­ers. But it also stirred up die-hard Repub­li­cans, po­ten­tially en­dan­ger­ing the “en­thu­si­asm gap” Democrats had been en­joy­ing.

Thank­fully, Demo­cratic lead­ers in both cham­bers of Congress seem to recog­nise this and are en­cour­ag­ing their mem­bers to pivot to­ward is­sues aimed at bring­ing more peo­ple into the fold. In the Se­nate, they have said they will fix­ate on health­care in the com­ing weeks, with spe­cial at­ten­tion paid to pro­tec­tions for peo­ple with pre­ex­ist­ing con­di­tions. This is a wildly pop­u­lar pro­vi­sion of Oba­macare, and one on which Repub­li­cans know they are vul­ner­a­ble. /New York, Oc­to­ber 11

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