Strategists expect negative 2014 battle

Strategists in both parties predicted a negative 2014 campaign focused on scaring base voters at a Tuesday morning panel hosted by The Hill.

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Republican strategist Todd Harris said the best way to win in a midterm election is "scaring the hell out of voters to show up" by painting a bleak picture of what happens if the other side wins.

"The reality on both sides of the aisle is that in low-turnout midterm elections, the key to getting your right mix of voters out is create a sense of urgency for them that if they don't vote, no matter how bad things are now, they're about to get a lot worse," he said. "Emotion is a very, very, very strong driver of voter behavior."

Democratic strategist Jamie Dixon agreed, saying as Democrats discuss economics in the campaign, they're focused on making it about "whose side are you on."

The panel came after Resonate Insights presented their 2014 Voter Motivation Landscape survey, which breaks down the electorate into a number of smaller pockets of ideologically cohesive sub-groups.

Republican strategist Brian Walsh predicted the GOP will have a good year in 2014, but warned the party needs to act on immigration in order to appeal to Hispanic and Asian-American voters.

"We're going to have a good 2014 and we're on offense in a number of states, but it doesn't necessarily solve the problems in 2016," he said.

Walsh, the former communications director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, also said he felt better about 2014's GOP primaries than those in past years that nominated fatally flawed candidates. He did say, however, that he was "keeping an eye on Mississippi," adding that he was "concerned" state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) could be a problem for the GOP in the race against Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.). Democrats are hopeful they can compete for the seat if McDaniel wins the primary.

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