Plouffe Says Democrats Can Still Hold Majorities

Posted October 7, 2010 at 5:42pm

Updated: 7:04 p.m.

Democratic strategist David Plouffe on Thursday said turning out Democratic base voters would be crucial on Election Day and that some of the GOP’s far-right candidates were helping drive the party’s effort to get supporters to the polls.

Plouffe told reporters during a media briefing at the Democratic National Committee headquarters that candidates such as Sharron Angle, the Republican seeking to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Kentucky Senate hopeful Rand Paul (R) and Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell have energized Democratic voters.

“It’s one of the reasons Democrats are saying they are more likely to vote,” he said.

Plouffe predicted that if Republicans continue to nominate candidates who are “out of the mainstream,” it would eventually hobble the party’s moderate wing.

“This is the absolute tip of the iceberg,” he said. “If you are a moderate Republican thinking about running for office in 2011, you need to have your head examined. They are not going to do it because this dynamic is only going to increase.”

Plouffe was careful to manage expectations during the hourlong briefing but said Democrats had an advantage because they were still gaining momentum in the final weeks of the midterm campaign.

“The Republicans were at full strength a long time ago,” he said. “They are in a good place; the point is I don’t see another surge here. … We have an opportunity, I think, to close the gap a little bit. And if we do that, I think we have the ability to hold on to the House and the Senate and win some of these governor’s races.”

Plouffe said that unlike in 1994, when Democrats suffered widespread defeats and lost control of Congress, Democrats were well aware of the challenges they faced this cycle early on and acknowledged that the environment was more favorable to Republicans.

But he stressed that the fight was not over yet, saying voters who are angry with Democrats are not necessarily ready to embrace Republican nominees.

“By this point in 1994, voters were not open for discussion,” he said. “In ’94, the voters closed off at some point. They just weren’t terribly interested in anything we had to say, and it was a terrible thing to sit there for about a month and say there is nothing we can really do.”

In response to Plouffe’s comments, National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brian Walsh pointed to polling that shows a majority of voters, especially independents, are unhappy with the policies enacted under the Democratic-run government, including the health care and stimulus efforts.

“We can only hope that David Plouffe and other Democrats believe their own spin because they’re in for a big wake-up call on November 2nd,” Walsh said. “Voters across the country are scared and angry, and the only message from the Democrats has been: ‘We know better than you.’ It’s remarkable in both its arrogance and ignorance.”