Karl Rove’s attack operation, American Crossroads, above all wants to win. It exists to help Republican candidates defeat Democratic candidates, and to that end, Rove’s group can’t operate the way Rove’s White House operated: they need to care about reality. It does them no good to pretend, for example, that popular ideas are unpopular, or vice versa.

With that in mind, it’s good to know even these guys know the polls are correct.

American Crossroads, the big money GOP group founded by Karl Rove, is warning Republicans that President Obama’s new campaign to raise taxes on millionaires is a political winner.

“It may be the result of larger environmental conditions, or he may be moving the needle himself, but Obama’s ‘tax the rich’ mantra is getting traction,” the group’s director, Steven Law, wrote in a memo. “Our poll found that 64% favor raising taxes on people with incomes above $200,000.”

Law recommended Republicans try to rebut Obama by citing quotes from prominent Democrats, like President Clinton, that taxes shouldn’t be raised in a recession.

Clinton, by the way, already agrees wholeheartedly with the Obama plan — which, incidentally, pushes off tax increases to 2013. Using Clinton’s line out of context is a lie.

But the larger observation does help explain why Republicans are so hysterical about Democratic economic ideas: voters actually like them. Class warfare, it turns out, is far more popular than the right would prefer to believe.

For what it’s worth, my expectation is that Republicans will simply reframe their same regressive agenda as being populist — Eric Cantor is set to give a speech on “income inequalities,” of all things — and hope voters just don’t understand the difference. If recent history is any guide, this will probably work.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.