The ’80-20 strategy’

THE ’80-20 STRATEGY’…. House Republicans have a plan in mind for the 2010 elections.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia, one of 10 leaders who attended a strategy session in Annapolis, Md., this week, said the party will attack Democrats relentlessly for the stimulus, health care and cap-and-trade bills. Internally, Republicans call it the “80-20 strategy,” which, loosely interpreted, means spending 80 percent of the time whacking Democrats and the remainder talking up their own ideas. […]

Cantor conceded that the public is far from thrilled with the GOP — in fact, the party’s image is worse than the Democrats’ — but he argues that Republicans will benefit most from the public loathing of Washington.

This, Cantor believes, is the key to Republicans taking Congress — all they have to do is devote 80% of their time bashing policies that work, and downplay their own failed ideas.

And as Jon Chait added, if this works, “they’ll immediately claim a mandate to implement those ideas.”

As for the 20%, I don’t imagine anyone seriously believes GOP candidates will devote a fifth of their time presenting a credible policy agenda and/or a substantive vision for the future. On its face, the idea is almost laughable. Republicans occasionally even admit they don’t have a policy agenda, and most of the ideas they take seriously — more tax cuts for the rich, privatizing Social Security, hating gays, banning reproductive rights — are so unpopular, they can’t be used as the basis for a campaign.

Which is why the 80-20 strategy will almost certainly be, at best, the 95-5 strategy. The GOP doesn’t really know any other way, and probably doesn’t have much of a choice if it intends to overcome its spectacular recent failures.