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GOP Strategy Memo Urges Focus on Iraq, Security Issues

In his article in today's LA Times "GOP Leaders Are Hoping to Turn the War Into a Winner," Peter Wallsten reports on a new Republican Party strategy memo urging party leaders to stress Bush's leadership on Iraq and other national security concerns as the best way to turn out their base. As Wallsten explains:

The memo suggested that Republicans could motivate their base in the upcoming elections by talking about foreign threats and national security issues, including Iraq and the potential nuclear threat from Iran, and by drawing contrasts with Democrats in those areas. It said "a huge 87% of the base expresses extremely strong feelings" about national security issues....The memo showed that the strategists hoped to stick to their post-2000 playbook of galvanizing the base using national security and other hot-button issues, asserting that 95% of base voters are either "almost certain" or "very likely" to vote this year.

However, as Wallsten notes, A recent LA Times/Bloomberg poll indicated that 49% of respondents "strongly disapproved" of Bush's Iraq policy. And according to a new Washington Post ABC News poll reported by Peter Baker and Claudia Deane:

Among voters across the board, 38 percent say they are more likely to oppose candidates who support Bush on Iraq compared with 23 percent who are more likely to support them.

The WaPo poll reports that 52 percent of respondents favor the Democratic congressional candidate in their district, with 39 percent for the Republican and respondents now "trust" Democrats to do a better job fighting against terrorism than Republicans by a margin of 46 percent to 38 percent. The poll indicates Dems have "a big advantage among independents," according to Deane and Baker.

And the base referred to in the GOP strategy memo may be more fractured than its authors acknowledge. As WaPo columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. recently observed:

Between now and November, conservative leaders will dutifully try to rally the troops to stave off a Democratic victory. But their hearts won't be in the fight.

If Dionne is right, Dems may be celebrating a political trifecta in November -- winning majorities of the House, Senate and governorships.