Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON -- With their poll numbers plunging in a jobless recovery, skyrocketing budget deficits, an unpopular health care plan, and their majority teetering on the edge of defeat, Democrats have switched to a novel election strategy: attack the Republicans.

In a campaign strategy that comes directly from the White House high command, Democrats are ditching President Obama's 2008 campaign promise of political reconciliation and attempting to smear the GOP by tying it to the tea party movement.

The decision, announced Wednesday by Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, has failure and desperation written all over it.

The tea party movement, which is not a party and has no central organization, was born in the fiery debate over the health care bill in the summer of 2009 as thousands of dissident voters showed up at town hall meetings to express their opposition. It grew over time as Obama's budget deficits grew to $1.4 trillion last year, then to $1.5 trillion this year. Their common sense response: Enough is enough!

Their chief complaints: The government borrows and spends too much and has gotten too big. The national debt and tax rates have gotten out of control and threaten the country's solvency. Needless agencies and programs should be cut back and some even eliminated. And the Democrats think these people are a threat to the country?

What the White House can't fathom is that many Americans agree with the tea party's message. Listen to what the editors at National Journal's Hotline say about them:

"Many independent voters sympathize with the tea party's broad message of cutting government spending, lower taxes and disaffection with all things Washington. Polls show about one-fourth of voters sympathize with the movement, and nearly all of them say they're planning to vote this fall. The tea party still has a much higher net favorable rating than both Democrats and GOPers, 33/31 in the latest Quinnipiac poll."

But Obama's top political strategists have poll tested a variety of their own issues and found them wanting.

They can't run on the Republicans blocking their agenda. It was passed by Democrats on party-line votes, and voters are strongly opposed to most of it -- from health care, which passed, to cap-and-trade energy taxes, which didn't because the Democrats could not agree on it in the Senate. And a growing number of Democrats in the House now rue the day they supported it.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.