miércoles, 19 de abril de 2017

GOP strategists: Georgia results are a wake-up call

The official party line is that there's no cause for alarm.

By Austin Wright

A longtime GOP pollster said: “I think we’re fooling ourselves if we don’t recognize that the Democratic anger is real."

The official Republican message on Wednesday, one day after Georgia’s special election, was that it meant nothing. There is no cause to be alarmed by Democrat Jon Ossoff’s indisputably strong performance. Republican nominee Karen Handel is going to defeat him in the June runoff. There’s no reason to worry about the party’s standing going into the 2018 midterm elections.

Unofficially, however, there were plenty of Republican operatives who viewed last week’s Kansas special election and Tuesday’s contest in Georgia as a harbinger of tough times ahead — warning signs that congressional leaders would be crazy to ignore as they craft their legislative strategy for the months ahead.

“I think we’re fooling ourselves if we don’t recognize that the Democratic anger is real,” said Glen Bolger, a longtime Republican pollster who co-founded the firm Public Opinion Strategies. “The biggest lesson is, guess what, we’re heading into a midterm where we control everything and it’s going to be tougher than when we were the out-party.”

Another Republican strategist, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the Georgia and Kansas races show that Democrats have “a ton of enthusiasm. They’re going to raise a ton of money.”

A few members of Congress were willing to go on record and admit that recent special election results were a bit unsettling. Republican Rep. Dave Brat, a member of the Freedom Caucus who has bucked GOP leaders on a number of issues, said the race was “a little bit of a wake-up call” for the GOP, which he said needed “to do policy and politics at the same time."

Republicans, the Virginia congressman said, are busy “doing health care and tax policy and regulatory reform,” while Democrats, now that they are out of power, are focused “almost entirely on politics.”

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