Dem Campaign Chief: Obama Agenda on Ballot Next Year -- Not This Year

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: As Democrats brace for what could be a rough Election Day , the head of Democrats’ House campaign efforts is downplaying the national implications of the day’s marquee contests , in New Jersey, Virginia, and upstate New York.

But if the Obama agenda isn’t on the ballot this year -- it sure will be next year, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., told us on ABCNews.com’s “Top Line today.

If Democratic turnout is down today, “what it tells is us we need to make sure that between now and a year from now we take actions both on the campaign side as well as whatever policy efforts we need to undertake, to make sure that all those voters understand that the success of the president’s agenda --- the success of the Obama agenda will depend on the turnout at the polls next November 2010,” said Van Hollen, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

“And if the people who came out to the polls for President Obama understand that the change agenda that he campaigned on in 2008, that that agenda is on the ballot in 2010, then they may well come out. But that’s not a big issue on the ballots this year so I don’t think it’s a fair test in that sense,” Van Hollen said.

Van Hollen called it “nonsense” to suggest that today’s results provide a forecast for the mid-term congressional elections: “It is not a situation where you’ve got members of Congress who are working with the president to try and enact an agenda are all on the ticket this time around. So I would say people need to be very cautious about drawing conclusions about the outcome of these elections.”

But he did suggest that there are lessons to be gleaned from the special election in New York State’s 23rd congressional district, where conservative anger at the Republican Party nominee forced the GOP candidate to back out of the race.

“You saw the Republicans essentially throwing their candidate under the bus. And that is going to be an issue in Republican primaries around the country, where you’ve got people who are running to the right, where you’ve got people who may be breaking with the party to run as independent candidates. That will send a very chilling message around the country that there’s no room for moderates in the Republican Party.”

Watch the full interview with Rep. Chris Van Hollen HERE .

We also checked with our regular Tuesday guest, Republican strategist Kevin Madden , on what to watch for today. High on his list: Where do independent voters -- critical to the Obama coalition -- go this year, and what issues motivate them?

Watch the discussion with Kevin Madden HERE .

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