Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine acknowledged Wednesday that his party is “running into a headwind” and touted an ambitious plan to persuade new voters to participate in the midterm elections.
The DNC intends to spend at least $50 million to defend Democratic majorities in the House and Senate and win as many governorships and state legislative seats as it can, Kaine told reporters at a luncheon sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.
That will break down as $30 million for voter registration, new media efforts and other programs, and $20 million to assist candidates and committees in key races.
One of the DNC’s challenges in this cycle is to engage and retain the support of about 15 million voters who cast their very first ballots in the 2008 presidential election and helped elect President Barack Obama.
Those voters, many of them young African-Americans and Latinos, “would likely have a low turnout in midterm elections,” Kaine said. “If we’re able to increase their turnout from the norm even by 10 percent, that’s a million and a half more votes that we could get.”
Kaine said there are 400,000 such voters in Colorado, where there are key races for governor and Senator; 750,000 in Ohio, where there are close contests for governor, Senator and in several House districts; and 1.3 million in Texas, where Democrats are eyeing the governorship.
“We know who these voters are, we know where they are, we know their loyalty to the president,” Kaine said. “But the challenge that we’re tackling, in I think a creative way, is getting them engaged in the midterm election in significant ways.”
Kaine said he thinks voters will want to reward Democrats for “heavy lifting” on the economic stimulus, health care and other priorities.
“We think Americans will reward results rather than obstruction, and we think we have a capacity to do much better in these midterm elections than a lot of people think,” Kaine said.
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said in a statement that Kaine’s strategy “is nothing but a blatant ploy to re-engage their disenchanted base and it won’t work. But in doing so, Chairman Kaine and the Democrats have shown just how desperate they have become.”