Robert Kuttner suggests the Republicans are “stealing the atmospherics of Democratic themes” this election cycle. Here in Missouri, I’ve seen a good example of this in the Senate race between incumbent Jean Carnahan (D) and challenger Jim Talent (R). The other night I saw a Talent campaign ad in which he was selling himself as a champion of senior citizens by endorsing a prescription drug plan. He sounded just like a Democrat. Kuttner says
“a lot of the issues are fairly complex. So if a Republican candidate insists that she, too, favors a crackdown on corporate crooks, or legislation to safeguard pensions, or a prescription drug program, few voters have the attention span to pursue the details.”
True enough. Issues are complex, and voters do seem to have short attention spans. The news media, especially TV, play a big role in oversimplifying the issues and bombarding voters with politically useless horse-race coverage. These two phenomenon make it possible for Republicans and Democrats alike to blur the party lines when one party believes the other has an edge in certain matters of policy.