March 16th, 2014
12:33 PM ET
4 years 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. kurt

    He is a liability in certain districts and will be a big positive in others.

    Gibbs is dead wrong about the Senate though. If the democrats lose the senate by a seat or two, it would suck, but it would be very temporary. All you have to do is look at the 2016 slate, where the GOP will be defending a huge number of seats in purple and blue states. There is no way the GOP holds the senate in 2016... in fact if the democrats do keep a slim majority this election it's very possible they could get a supermajority again in 2016.

    GOP "danger" seats in 2016 (blue or purple states):
    Florida (Rubio) – Especially if he runs for President
    Illinois (Kirk)
    New Hampshire (Ayote)
    Ohio (Portman)
    Pennsylvannia (Toomey)
    Wisconsin (Johnson)

    Possible Dem pickups but only if things go really well for them:
    North Carolina (Burr)
    Missouri (Blunt)

    Could be dangerous with a retirement:
    Arizona (McCain)
    Iowa (Grassley)
    Kentucky (Paul) – If he were to run for president.

    Possible GOP pickup:
    Colorado (Bennett).. and that's it. Only 9 Democrat seats up for election, and all but Colorado are pretty much untouchable for the GOP.

    3 pickups for the Democrats would be a given (even if things are BAD). Very little chance of the GOP keeping the Senate unless they win HUGE this time... as in taking 6+ seats from the Democrats.

    March 16, 2014 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  2. Gurgyl

    Republicans are the biggest liability in USA.

    March 16, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  3. reggie53

    This is wishful thinking on your part. You had better wake up and get some sense because I think you are living in a dream world.

    March 16, 2014 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  4. rla

    Only if the democrats can again convince the 47% that their free stuff will be taken away and the country is in really good shape! The progressive are pathological liars and the country better wake up... Note the recent pronouncements by Kerry, Obama, Reid and Pelosi to see a group that is delusionald !!! And the run the country.... Thanks 47% and your free stuff

    March 16, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  5. VOTE in the Mid Terms!

    Democrats who run from Obama are cowards who don't deserve to be elected. If voters actually get off their butts and VOTE this time, the GOP is in trouble.

    March 16, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  6. jguy1957

    Obamacare and the economy is a liability, so Obama is a liability and so is everyone that supports him – a Democrat running for office.

    March 16, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  7. bill

    Obummer care will cost the dems the senate. The lies from obama will come back to haunt him.

    March 16, 2014 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  8. barryinlasvegas

    Of course he's not. That is why no Democrat, especially Senators up for re-election this year won't appear in any photo's with Obama or want him to come to their state, stand next time and campaign for them. Not a liability at all.

    March 16, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  9. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ LEE ISSA RUBIO GOP conservatives the GARBAGE AND SEWAGE of AMERICA what have they accomplished in the lat five years??? They lost at least 50BILLIN DOLLARS and got nothing for it just this year.

    I can't believe anybody in their right mind could vote for ANY GOP DO NOTHING canadate for ANY office . They have done NOTHING but obstruct everything that would improve the economy for their own political proposes at the expense of the American people, the GOP are nothing but subversive American TRAITORS!!!!!!

    March 16, 2014 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  10. 2_indy1600

    Maybe it's a question of which democratic president. When people realize that Clinton signed off on ICANN at the beginning of his second term, and relinquished control of the inet to China....well, that truly is lights out in 2015. There goes free speech on the web.

    March 16, 2014 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  11. Anthony

    Democrats, stop playing defense. Go on offense. This is what Republicans are doing. Republicans focus on attacking the health care law, and ignore everything Democrats say in defense of the law. They don't care about what Democrats say in defense of the law. Republicans stay on offense, so that people don't notice that Republicans don't have an alternative. This is a strategy that Democrats can learn from.

    March 16, 2014 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  12. ThinkAgain - Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    @kurt: Thanks for your research and anaylses – keep it coming!

    March 16, 2014 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  13. ThinkAgain - Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    "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 have a historic engagement effort in Hispanic, Asian, and African-American communities – not just five months before an election, but for four years."

    Completely forgetting, of course, the gop's recent history of vilifying minorities; slamming community organizers (who directly impact many lower-income communities); working desperately to disenfranchise voters, cutting aid to the most vulnerable among us, shutting down the government and playing chicken with our nations' credit rating, using coded language to say that poor people are lazy and have only themselves to blame; working on the local level to limit a woman's right to choose; voting 50 times to repeal Obamacare, even as it is being embraced by the American people who understand the immediate and long-term benefits of reigning in healthcare costs.

    Yeah, so whatever, Rinse.

    Dems and Independents (and thinking Republicans, if any of you exist anymore), get out and vote on November 4, 2014 for the people and policies that are moving us forward: DEMOCRATS.

    March 16, 2014 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  14. rs

    Photo caption: GOP "charm offensive"? That's funny given the overt racism of Mr. Ryan's latest gaffe, and the GOP's most recent lust: laws formalizing discrimination as being religiously justified as we've just seen in Arizona. If the is the GOP being charming, well, they're through.

    March 16, 2014 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  15. wendel

    the republican party is more worried about elections, Syria and starting a war with Russian than the welfare of the American people. Where are their ideas on poverty and equality in this country? Supressing women ,gay's and voter rights. seem to be the only things they care about . And of course health care which they would abolish and replace with nothing. If they really cared we would increase minimum wages build up or infrastructer work on immigration and improve on the affordable care act.

    March 16, 2014 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  16. Marie MD

    The teaklans are the worst for the US and the world.

    March 16, 2014 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  17. Fish

    Obama isn't a liability??? to Whom??? Obamacare will sink the democratic party because it is bad legislation. It is a sellout to insurance companies and Wall Street!!! It is no secret that TBTF is even bigger and that our economy and job situation has only stagnated since Obama took office!!! Instead of pushing his agenda he had the votes to pass Glass-Steagall and fix our economy instead he was selfish!!! When a President chooses himself over our nation he must be removed ASAP!!! Hell I don't care if a hobbit is elected next as neither party has any talent at all!!!

    March 16, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  18. Stuffitu

    So can any of you hypocritical democrat liberal "progressives" tell us why you defamed, dismissed and demeaned all of those clear thin link Republicqns, Tea Party members (actually hard working tax paying Americans) who wanted to delay OBOZOCARE last, the same way the Kenyan village idiot is doing right now? A tip of the hat to the liberally biased mainstream media who lead the charge for the corrupt democrat liberals.

    March 16, 2014 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  19. johnp40

    Obama is radioactive to democRATs seeking re-election this year.

    March 16, 2014 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  20. king

    how much more backward do these repubs think the american people can get. the repubs have no interest of making this economy better. if they do they know they will lose the 2016 presidencial race and the rabid right will drink their tea bag. i wonder what mantra they will lie about this time, because the american people got suckered into that jobs jobs jobs, crap they pushed in 2010, when they knew jobs was the furthest thing from their twisted minds. i will tell Obama get rid of universal healthcare, these people dont deserve it. let us go back to the days of dying on the corner bankruptcy, and 20 percent premium raise every year. if they are banking that the repubs will improve universal healthcare for all, give me a miniuite, HA HA HA, YOU GOT SUCKERED AGAIN. as i said before the repub cannot afford this economy to be good. they will keep on sabotaging the economy and point their finger at Obama especially when they have the house and senate under their control. all they have to do is come up with some crap that will allow the rich to keep sucking the money out of economy and build china into a more powerful country than us, then dare the president to veto it.

    March 16, 2014 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  21. freedom

    You can't help democrats with the monstrosity of Obamacare – or the NSA, IRS criminatlity, and more. Pfeiffer is spinning.

    March 16, 2014 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  22. rs

    Only if the democrats can again convince the 47% that their free stuff will be taken away and the country is in really good shape!
    I would think the Right might grow a brain about the 47% thing. The 47% includes those on Social Security, and making use of VA services. Really? You want to call veterans and our parents takers? Lay off the Kool-Aide.

    March 16, 2014 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  23. Gurgyl

    @jguy1957, neither Obamacare nor Economy will effect the outcome, because Economy is doing lot better now than ever before, because of ACA Law, you have insurance, no one can deny PRE-EXISTING CONDITION PATIENTS. The truth is OBSTRUCTION PARTY NEEDS TO BE TOTALLY DEAD. GOP is gone to dogs soon.

    March 16, 2014 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  24. len

    Say all you want, if you do not vote in 2014, only blame GOP out..

    March 16, 2014 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  25. ED1

    Yea right and the tooth fairy will be coming to a house hear you soon.

    March 16, 2014 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
1 2