Nate Silver, the New York Times’ decidedly liberal election data wiz, takes a look at the election messaging from the two parties. What he finds is that the Democrats may actually have a more incoherent message than the GOP:
For some Republican candidates, the agenda may indeed begin with the health care bill, which many are pledging to repeal. But there are also issues like the deficit, which more than four out of five Republicans highlighted on their Web sites in some form. Some 60 percent of Republicans, meanwhile -– including some in states far removed from the Mexican border -– addressed immigration, usually advocating tighter border security.
Democrats, on the other hand, are having trouble articulating a clear set of policy goals. After health care, the issues mentioned most frequently by Democrats were energy, jobs and education – each of which were highlighted by 7 out of 10 Democrats. But these issues do not necessarily lend themselves to a crisp set of policy proposals. The country has been debating various efforts at job creation since the start of President Obama’s term, and usually with little consensus. Although Mr. Obama has advanced an education plan, it has received scant attention in Congress, making it hard for Democrats to draw clear contrasts. On energy, the Democrats do have a clearer policy proposal: their bill to introduce a cap-and-trade system, which passed the House last year but not the Senate. Many of the Democrats, however, spoke about “energy independence” in much vaguer terms (as did many Republicans). And a few – like Mike Oliverio, a conservative Democrat in West Virginia — noted their opposition to the cap-and-trade proposal.
I might add that having a more coherent policy message than the GOP is a very low bar to clear. The fact that Democrats may have a more muddled vision than the “Party of No” they’ve spent so much time ridiculing is quite an achievement.