WASHINGTON (AP) - House Democrats on Wednesday outlined plans to focus on economic issues and job opportunities while portraying Republicans as beholden to corporate interests, saying the message could help the party connect with voters in the 2014 elections.
Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., speaking hours after establishment Republicans scored victories in Tuesday's primaries, said its recent polling and research found that Democrats have an advantage with voters on pocketbook issues and Republicans are vulnerable to charges they aid corporations and the wealthy at the expense of typical voters.
"The next six months is going to be about who's got your back," said Israel, who leads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He briefed reporters on a research project the party hopes to use to help it connect with its base voters and people who typically turn out in presidential elections but skip voting in midterm elections.
Republicans hold a 34-seat advantage in the House and Democrats are trying to prevent more losses heading into President Barack Obama's final two years. Few outside experts expect Democrats to compete for control of the House in the elections and the research underscored the need for the party to promote issues beyond economic inequality, including raising the federal minimum wage, which has been a centerpiece of Obama's message this year.
Israel said its House candidates would benefit from an economic message that emphasizes outreach to working families, women and minorities. He said the election would not be a "referendum" on Obama's health care overhaul but the research showed Democrats who emphasize "fixes and improvements" to the system outperformed Republicans who focused on repealing the law.
The congressman declined to handicap the number of seats that Democrats could win or lose in the November elections, noting that many states had yet to hold primary elections. He also would not predict to what extent House Democrats would campaign in person with Obama, saying it was up to the individual candidate.
Andrea Bozek, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Israel's unwillingness to say "whether his candidates will campaign with President Obama tells you everything you need to know about how bad the political climate is for House Democrats."