March 16th, 2014
12:33 PM ET
9 months ago

Obama adviser Pfeiffer says president isn’t a midterm liability

Washington (CNN) - One of President Obama’s advisers said Sunday that, despite the President’s low popularity numbers, he’ll still be helpful for Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections.

A CNN Poll of Polls from last week, averaging four national surveys that measure the President's approval rating, said just 44% of Americans approve of the job Obama's doing in the White House.

But Dan Pfeiffer, senior adviser to the President, said despite those numbers, many Democratic candidates will still rely on help from Obama.


“The President will be an asset in every way to help these candidates,” Pfeiffer said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

It may not be just at campaign events, either. Pfeiffer said the President and those around him have some experience in winning elections by both old-school campaigning and modern technological tools.

“This President wrote the book on running and winning modern campaigns,” Pfeiffer said. “We're going to take all of our resources and help Democrats up and down the ballot.”

Obama's 2012 campaign wielded a massive technological advantage over GOP nominee Mitt Romney's outfit, a disparity that's been chronicled in multiple places. It prompted the Republican National Committee to put a high priority on narrowing the data deficiency. According to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, his party has done exactly that. He said David Jolly's win in a special election for a Florida congressional seat last week is proof positive Democrats no longer dominate in the use of technology.

"Our data was talking to our political field operation in a historical way for our party, and it worked," Priebus told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley on Sunday.

A confident-sounding Priebus touted the GOP's enhanced digital outreach as an extension of the party's overall vision to better connect with communities that traditionally elect Democrats to office.

"We are putting people in every single battleground state across the country, in every community," Priebus said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” "We have a historic engagement effort in Hispanic, Asian, and African-American communities - not just five months before an election, but for four years."

But beyond his party's stepped-up outreach and ever-expanding digital imprint, Priebus said the conservative vision and the persistent unpopularity of Obama’s health care law combine to make him excited about Republican prospects in the fall.

"Obamacare is complete poison out there in the field," Priebus said.

"We're going to have a good year this year, and I think we're going to win the U.S. Senate," he added.

Midterm elections are notorious for having lower turnout than presidential election years, and the disparity is even worse for Democrats than the GOP. Pfeiffer said one of the key jobs for Obama may simply be getting people to the polls.

“Democrats have to do a better job of turning out for midterm elections. We’re very good in presidential years and less good in midterms. If more Democrats do not turn out, we will not do well,” Pfeiffer said.

Another former White House insider echoed concerns about the composition of the midterm electorate.

Former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said on "Meet the Press" that the Senate could "definitely" end up in Republican hands. While Gibbs did express concern about how the Affordable Care Act will play with voters, saying the law's rollout "is still providing a huge hangover" for Democrats, the longtime Obama confidant is more worried Democrats could face a wave election - one in which more than 20 House seats change hands.

"There's a real, real danger that the Democrats could suffer big losses," Gibbs said. "If we lose the Senate, turn out the light. The party's over."


Filed under: 2014 • Dan Pfeiffer • Reince Priebus • Robert Gibbs
soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. darylinSC

    Obama is a cancer to all moderate democrats that are running in the 14 mid-terms. They know that he is a liability to their re-election. My prediction is that the republicans take the senate. Florida's special elections result is the tip of the iceberg. 2014 mid terms will be a referendum on the ACA.

    March 16, 2014 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  2. scott

    With Obama and the Democrats destroying this country in every way possible, trampling the constitution, and destroying American way of life. Republicans will take the Senate, and in 2016 will take the Presidency.

    March 16, 2014 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    Obama has been a liability to America, since day ONE!

    March 16, 2014 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  4. The Republican Party Is Dead To Me

    Republicans, are a bottle neck to the progress of all men. They can't get along with people in their own party, and are at constant odds with anyone outside their party, They politicize any and all facets of life, starting from dawn and ending at dawn the next day. And it goes on day in and day out. To be around one, is to be around too many.

    March 16, 2014 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  5. don in albuquerque

    Everybody predicted MittWitt would win by a landslide. MittWitt and Carl Rove even believed it. Guess what happened? Turned out the truth was nobody in their right mind bought the BS the GOTP was putting out. Not even the members of the GOTP. GET OUT AND VOTE DEMS. There is a reason the Repugs are in minority.

    March 16, 2014 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  6. croaton999

    Yes he is, period.

    March 16, 2014 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  7. Ron L

    The only reason the President is considered a liability is the Democrats are so poor at running a campaign that explains the positives of the ACA outweighing any negatives that have been experienced by a small number of Americans. They need to focus on the following:
    1) Millions of Americans who never had insurance now has it and in the long run "preventive care" is less expensive
    than "emergency care".
    2) The increase of yearly premiums has dropped from "double digits" to "single digits" since the ACA was enacted.
    3) Democrats support an increase in the minimum wage. While the Republicans are not only against raising the
    minimum wage they also want to cut the ALL public assistance programs for the poor. IN SHORT they help KEEP
    the POOR, POOR. Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 over the next two years will reduce the deficit $200 billion
    a year by taking many of the poor off of government assistance.
    4) Republicans still FIRMLY believe that the wealthy DESERVE unbelievably generous tax breaks so they will HIRE
    more people. NOTHING in the past 20 years shows this to be true. All that has happen from this is the wealthy
    have been able to accumulate more wealth by paying on average 20% taxes while the rest of us pay closer to 35%.
    And PLEASE don't be suckered into believing the answer is to cut everyone else's taxes. The countries
    infrastructure is CRUMBLING, if we reduce the revenue even more, the situation will get worst.
    5) The Democrats want to expand the ability for Americans to VOTE!! The Republicans will enact laws to restrict
    voting for 100's of thousands of Americans when there has been less than .05% of voter fraud found in America.
    5) Democrats believe climate change IS occurring and would address the issue more vigorously than the
    Republicans. Their approach may impact jobs, raise fossil fuel cost, but we would have cleaner water and air!!!
    6) The Democratic party believes WOMEN should be treated as equals to men in the work place when it comes to
    salary. They believe women have a RIGHT to chose, especially if they are raped and left beaten and pregnant!!
    Many Republicans feel the direct opposite.
    Those are just 6 reasons the Democrats should be able to keep the Senate and pick up seats in the House. BUT< they have to be on the offensive and get their base and moderates to the polls!!!!!

    March 16, 2014 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  8. aaron

    The only people that Reps seem charming to are Fox News junkies, especially that deceitful Priebus clown. It'd easier to tell number of times he's told the truth than when he's lied.

    March 16, 2014 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  9. Koleman

    The old boy has not long to live...and he d love to take the world with him. Give him half a chance...and he ll start a nuclear war... Cant excuse him by the head injury that he had...

    March 16, 2014 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  10. Rusty Krus

    Reince? Seriously? Either you were born into Connecticut blue bloods, or your parents had a sick sense of humor!

    March 16, 2014 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  11. Really?

    Good, keep believing that!

    March 16, 2014 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  12. CALIFORNIA

    And he's obviously delusional

    March 16, 2014 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  13. pjoe

    Before 2012 election: If you like your health insurance, you can keep your health insurance. Period.

    After 2012 election: Ooops. Sorry voters ... I guess I was wrong.

    It's ok Mr President ... in 2014, you can't keep your Senate either.

    March 16, 2014 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  14. hellsyeahs

    Obama towers over the Teahadists. They look like spoiled children faced with his admin.

    March 16, 2014 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  15. FidyCents

    49 acres and a mule is over....bye,bye Democrats!

    March 16, 2014 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  16. FidyCents

    Mr. Pfeiffer spell D-E-R-P !

    March 16, 2014 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  17. Too Scruffy

    Focused like a laser on...What?

    March 17, 2014 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  18. Jerry

    Not a liability eh? Everything obama has touched is a disaster, if not for the press his approval rating would be about 20%. Putins approval is 72% twice what Barry/Barack's...

    March 17, 2014 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  19. cholito

    Perhaps Mr. Pfeiffer is confused and what he really meant to say was that the Russians don't view Mr. Obama as a liability.

    March 17, 2014 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  20. Cornhusker

    Marie how would raising the min wage help. All you are doing is shrinkng the middle class by doing this. Do you really think that if they raise the min wage prices wont go up? Do you think business owners well be ok with a lower profit margin? I am pretty positive if you raise the min wage that the middle class wont get any raise or if they do it will only be for some not all so in the end what you will have is more people that are poor than in the middle class. Lifting up the poor doesnt help the middle class by making their wages less and products more.

    March 17, 2014 02:36 am at 2:36 am |
  21. jj

    I think the people who still believe Obama is not hurting the Democrat Party are delusional. Obama's approval rating is now lower than GWB's. People are feed up with O's lies plain and simple.

    March 17, 2014 03:44 am at 3:44 am |
  22. Rob

    I love it. "They Obama team has some experience in elections" Yeah right. Like using the IRS, the DOJ, the Media all to lie to the people. With luck the people will realize what incompetents and lairs the Democrats are

    March 17, 2014 05:21 am at 5:21 am |
  23. salty dog

    Just do whatever it takes to vote, crawl, walk, drive, just get there, we have the majority, let's do this! Let the Koch brothers spend billions, we can make that a waste of money, failure to vote puts these people in charge, bad for 95% of us.

    March 17, 2014 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  24. george

    It is people like Name JK and his socalist brothers that have put this country in its state today. Do nothing GOP, how about your comrade prince reid. He votes on nothing unless his czar obandon oks it. Spell do nothing you socalist.

    March 17, 2014 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
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