Republicans could lose 2014 just like they lost Virginia, on the "empathy gap."

Republicans could lose 2014 just like they lost Virginia, on the “empathy gap.”

“…among the one in five voters for whom “cares about people like me” was most important, Obama won 81 percent to 18 percent. That is a jaw-dropping finding as Republicans search for the answer to the question, “Why did we lose?” Republicans need to think about these results as they decide how to position their party for 2014 and 2016, lest they watch this empathy gap cost them another winnable election.Charlie Cook

THE PROBLEM for Democrats in 2014 is real, but the prospect of campaigning on income inequality has the prospect of turning a traditional midterm loss for the party who holds the White House into a squeaker win that positions them perfectly for 2016.

Republicans are wrong to think everyone is obsessed with Obamacare. They’d have learned that lesson if they paid any attention to the Republican shutdown and the ripple effect it caused in Virginia. But looking at their last batch of video ads that are all Obamacare centric, I’d say they’ve got nothing else right now. It makes Republicans look very out of touch.

Getting beyond Obamacare is hard for Republicans and it has the potential of sinking them. Charlie Cook explains.

One doesn’t have to be a liberal or a populist or, for that matter, a social-justice advocate to fear the social, political, and economic consequences of such a wide swath of voters who fear what the future holds for them. It’s often noted that this is the first time in our nation’s history that most Americans do not expect their children and grandchildren to have the same opportunities they did. As a country built on optimism, the United States has often attracted immigrants seeking the promise of a better life. Over the last 30 years, but particularly the past 15 years, that optimism has been fundamentally undermined. – Charlie Cook

Empathy without action, however, is just emotion, which is what motivates voters. Tapping into that emotion is a politician’s job and he or she does it by offering an action plan that addresses what’s on the voter’s mind.

Republicans standing in the way of an extension of unemployment benefits, their opposition to a living wage, their blindness to the uninsured, these are actions that imply lack of empathy, understanding, and interest in solving people’s problems.

One reason the Great Society push was successful for so long is that it put us all in it together.

America now is a land of haves and have nots, with young adults facing an economic prospect that promises less than their parents and grandparents.

This year’s campaign is not just about midterms. It’s about making the case that feeling people’s pain through enacting policies that solve people’s problems is always a winner.

When you consider gerrymandering and that people don’t vote in the same numbers they do in presidential cycles, tapping into how the voter feels becomes critical in getting the vote out. Widening the prospects of voters you can get to the polls becomes even more important, which is why a campaign on solving income inequality, which begins with raising the minimum wage, could easily outdistance an anti Obamacare campaign.

Everyone has to talk to their base, but there are a lot of unaffiliated voters and independents, including millennials, who can be brought to the voting booth on economic issues that are keeping them down, which exist well outside the conversation of Obamacare. It begins with not only feeling their pain, but communicating that you’ve got a plan to begin to fix it.