Is Democratic grumbling about racism a smart midterm strategy?

“Very risky to accuse the GOP of outright, overt racism,” said one Democratic strategist who was granted anonymity to speak candidly. “Midterms are about motivating your base, so perhaps that is what’s going on. I think more Democrats should take their cues from President Obama, who to my knowledge has never accused his opponents of being racially motivated.”

Saying outright that elements of the Republican Party are racist could potentially spur minorities — who vote overwhelmingly Democratic — to turn out in larger numbers and give them something to rally against. But it could also have the opposite effect: Energizing the Republican base to voice their disagreement at the polls with what Democrats are saying about their party.

Midterm voters “don’t turn out to vote for something, they turn out to vote against something,” said Republican pollster Glen Bolger. “Republicans have their motivation, but the Democratic leadership is casting about for ways to get their base to the polls. Maybe it’s one of their blind data tests; Harry Reid is crying about the Koch Brothers, while the House side has been assigned ‘Republican racism’ as their meme. It’s a pretty thin gruel the Democrats are trying to serve to their voters.”