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February 21, 2014 9:49 AM Fear Factor

By Ed Kilgore

There’s already been a lot of attention paid this year to the claims of Democrats that they will focus midterm campaigns on a turnout operation the likes of which no one has ever seen. For better or worse, the DSCC’s Bannock Street Project for holding onto Democratic control of the Senate via a voter contact system intended to reshape the midterm electorate into something resembling its much larger presidential counterpart is gong to be adjudged a breakthough success or a delusional failure.

But as Mike Tomasky points out today at the Daily Beast, all those voter contacts will require succinct and hard-hitting content, and it’s just beyond question that the most compelling message Democrats have right now is that the other side will do very bad things with any expanded power:

The other side will be motivated: They’re older, white, angry that Obama continues to have the temerity to stand up there and be president, as if somebody elected him. This will be their last chance to push the rage button (well, the Obama-rage button; soon they’ll just start pushing the Hillary-rage button). But what will motivate the liberal side?….
One of the all-time great Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes was Season 3’s “The Wish,” when a female demon grants Cordelia, the classic senior-class Queen Bee-beeyatch, one wish. Cordelia wishes instantly that Buffy Summers—who makes her life far more complicated than she wishes it to be—had never come to Sunnydale. The wish is granted. The next thing you see is, indeed, what would have happened to Sunnydale if Buffy, the vampire slayer, had never hit town. The high-school population is reduced by more than half. There’s a 6 p.m. curfew. Those who remain live in fear. The vamps have taken over. It’s a death town.
That’s Washington if the Republicans get the Senate.

This goes beyond any belief in the efficacy of “negative” versus “positive” campaigning. Republicans have simply given Democrats too much psychological material for any of it to go to waste. So expect to hear a lot of it as we near election day.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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