There are some immediate targets. Among all voters, Democratic House candidates won higher percentages than Obama. But voters at the low end of the age spectrum and the high end of the income and education spectrums cast higher percentages for Obama than House Democrats. They are, at the moment, Obama Republicans, hopeful that Obama can forge the bipartisan coalitions he has promised and eager for the change they think he represents. But that's not the change that congressional Democrats have produced, at least so far.
They passed their pork-laden stimulus package in the House without a single Republican vote. This positions Republican candidates to say, more in sorrow than in anger, that congressional Democrats are preventing our president from governing as he wants to. We want to help.
Going upscale also means downplaying the cultural issues that were an important reason for Republican victories from 1980 to 2004. Here, young voters are critical, and their attitudes give guidance. They oppose criminalization of abortion, but they also disfavor it -- the position of the great middle of the electorate. They tend to favor same-sex marriage -- the days of winning votes by opposing it are nearing an end. And while they seem blithely confident that government action can solve problems like health care, they are also a generation that insists on choice in their personal lives. Members of the iPod generation don't wait for their elders to tell them what the top 40 songs are. They make their own playlists.
There's a tension here, which Republicans can exploit, between the tactics of the MyObama campaign and the policies he favors that would limit choices -- one-size-fits-all government health insurance, the effective abolition of secret ballot unionization elections, and environmental policies that reduce your choice of cars and increase the price of energy.
Republicans can argue that their policies will let you choose your future. No, I don't have a candidate in mind, and I don't think Republicans can abandon cultural conservatives altogether. But upscale seems to me to be the way to go.
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