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Quick shots: Unexpected table turnings

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • James Carville: Media repeating that GOP will sweep Congress may be hurting GOP's chances
  • GOP no more popular today than 2008, Carville says, some polls show image worse than Dems'
  • Alex Castellanos: Obama the reverse of Ronald Reagan, but accomplishing the same
  • Separated by ideology, but their legacies will be indistinguishable, Castellanos says

(CNN) -- Editor's note: There are 21 days to go before voters cast ballots in the hotly contested midterm elections. In this special feature, CNN's political contributors share their quick thoughts on what's making news.

Alex Castellanos is a founding partner of National Media Inc. and served as media consultant to the presidential campaigns of Bob Dole, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Phil Gramm and Mitt Romney.

James Carville is a Democratic strategist who serves as a political contributor for CNN, appearing frequently on CNN's "The Situation Room" as well as other programs on all CNN networks. Carville remains active in Democratic politics and is a party fundraiser.

Carville: Drumbeat of GOP win can cause just the reverse

Is the media helping the Democrats? No, I don't mean in the hysterical Fox-News-Rush-Limbaugh kind of way, whose coverage is so blatantly combative toward the Democrats. I actually want to take this time to argue the opposite: that the mainstream media's relentlessly repeating story about how the Republicans are going to sweep the House and the Senate may actually be hurting the GOP.

Bear with me here because we definitely know these two things: First, the American people have a high level of dissatisfaction.

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But second, Republican are no more popular than they were in 2008. In fact many respectable polls show that their image is worse than the Democrats (outside of a reasonable margin of error) and these numbers are tightening.

Could it be that when told by the media that their votes are likely to result in a return to a Republican Congress the public is actually less likely to vote for Republicans? I think we should consider the possibility that if people could vote for Republicans without actually electing them they would. But I would like to remind people that by voting for a Republican they are not only sending a message to Washington, they are sending a Republican to Washington.

Castellanos calls Obama 'Reagan in reverse'

I am often asked, "Who is the leader of the Republican Party?" Is it Glenn Beck or another talk radio host? Is it a voice in the Tea Party? The answer is none of the above. The leader of the Republican Party is Barack Obama. He is Ronald Reagan's heir.

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Reagan expanded the GOP and brought independents to the conservative movement. So has Obama. Reagan united Americans around the cause of liberty and American exceptionalism. Obama has done the same. Reagan reminded us of core American principles, that big "government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them." So, again, has Obama. Reagan brought new blood to the GOP, delivering a new generation of Republican leaders to power. What has Obama done, if not that?

Reagan did not just build the GOP, he built a transformative conservative movement that long outlasted his tenure. Obama is doing likewise. Reagan also reminded us that America's great strength comes, not from Washington, but from the American people. So, too, has Obama. In the end, Reagan left the Democratic Party discredited as the party of incompetence and economic irresponsibility, the party of the past, not the future. That is Obama's legacy.

Two charismatic leaders, separated by their ideology, their vision of America and a generation. The differences between Obama and Reagan couldn't be more stark, but their effect will be indistinguishable. One pulled us to freedom, the other pushes us to it. Barack Obama isn't Ronald Reagan. He is Reagan in reverse.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Alex Castellanos and James Carville.