The One Word Democrats May Not Utter During the Campaign

And it’s not “Obamacare.”

As important as Obamacare is to the Republicans in the midterm elections, the economy still tops everyone’s list as the number one issue facing the country.


Some Democratic political consultants are advising candidates to avoid using the term “recovery” when describing the economy — for obvious reasons. This Fox News poll from January shows that 74% of Americans still think we’re in a recession. Any Democrat uttering the word “recovery” is likely to get a shoe thrown at them.

From the Associated Press:

Election-year memo to Democratic candidates: Don’t talk about the economic recovery. It’s a political loser.

So say Democratic strategists in a blunt declaration that such talk skips over “how much trouble people are in, and doesn’t convince them that policymakers really understand or are even focusing on the problems they continue to face.”

In addition, Stan Greenberg, James Carville and others wrote that in head-to-head polling tests the mere mention of the word “recovery” is trumped by a Republican assertion that the Obama administration has had six years to get the economy moving and its policies haven’t worked.

Coincidentally or not, Democrats have largely shelved the “R” word.

President Barack Obama’s only utterance of it in recent weeks was on April 8, and it was in the context of accusing Republicans of blocking progress on issues that “would help with the economic recovery and help us grow faster.”

Additionally, at a news conference on March 26 where they announced a campaign-season agenda, neither Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., nor most of the other five lawmakers present uttered the word “recovery.”

The strategic advice comes at a time Democrats are working to maximize turnout, particularly among women, for the fall elections, when they face a determined challenge from Republicans vying to add control of the Senate to their seemingly secure House majority.

Simultaneously, Democrats are struggling to respond effectively to persistent Republican attacks on the nation’s health care law.


In their memo for Democracy Corps and the Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund, the authors propose that to boost turnout among their target groups Democrats should back an economic agenda that “puts working women first,” and says that incomes are soaring only for CEOs and the top 1 percent of the country.

“As a start, Democrats should bury any mention of the recovery. That message was tested … and it lost to the Republican message championed by Karl Rove,” they wrote.


Of course, GOP candidates will have little trouble mentioning the “recovery” since for large numbers of Americans, it still hasn’t happened. With 8 million people working part-time who want and need full-time jobs, millions who have dropped out of the workforce altogether, and many millions more facing an uncertain future of reduced hours or even termination due to Obamacare, Republicans will have little trouble reminding people who’s been in charge for the last six years.

I don’t think this is a rational strategy. If Democrats can only talk about “income inequality” and the “war on women” as they relate to the economy, this is a losing proposition. Americans want jobs and economic growth. If the Democrats won’t talk about that, they deserve the shellacking they’re going to get.



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