POLITICS: PennAve

DCCC chair: '2014 will not be a referendum on Syria'

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Politics,House of Representatives,Democratic Party,2014 Elections,Syria,Campaigns,PennAve,Rebecca Berg

The chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Rep. Steve Israel, said Tuesday that the congressional debate over whether to authorize military intervention in Syria "does not complicate the cycle at all" for candidates running in 2014.

"2014 is not going to be a referendum on Syria," Israel said.

The issue of Syria has been a tricky one politically for candidates of both parties in part because there has been no clear partisan divide to guide lawmakers, leaving many candidates hesitant to broach the topic in the campaign sphere.

Based on recent polling conducted on behalf of the DCCC, Israel predicted that the fiscal debates before Congress this fall, including a continuing resolution to fund the government and a debt ceiling increase, will have much greater bearing on the fortunes of Democrats and Republicans during the midterm election cycle.

"Our polling consistently shows that voters are holding Republicans accountable for chaos," Israel said.

According to Israel, the recent survey found that 62 percent of voters polled in swing districts disapprove of the job House Republicans are doing, and 64 percent said Republicans are doing too little to cooperate on policy issues.

Notably, Israel said the data showed a shift over time, with voters recently placing more blame on Republicans for gridlock in Congress.

"The early data was, 'you’re all responsible,' " Israel said. "But there has been, over the past several months, a discernible shift from 'a pox on both your houses' to, 'the Republicans in the House of Representatives just can’t get it together.' "

A challenge for Democrats, however, will be to persuade voters to translate such sentiments into tangible electoral action: Israel said what worried him most about the data is that voters "still need to be convinced to fire a Republican for gridlock and obstruction."

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