Obama 2014 campaign role: Fundraiser-in-Chief
March 20th, 2014
11:45 AM ET
4 months ago

Obama 2014 campaign role: Fundraiser-in-Chief

Washington (CNN) - With President Barack Obama's approval rating hovering near its all-time lows – and with polls indicating his health care law remains unpopular with many Americans – the President may not be in high demand this year on the campaign trail.

But while there are a number of congressional Democrats facing challenging reelections who aren't screaming for Obama to stump with them, they do look to the President to bring in the bucks. Because when it comes to fundraising, Obama remains the party's top rainmaker.


The President headlines two high profile fundraisers on Thursday in Florida, for the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The first event, for the DNC, will be held at the Miami home of Lili Estefan and Lorenzo Luaces. Estefan is a Cuban-born model and hosts a show on Univision. She's also the niece of singer Gloria Estefan.

A Democratic Party official says 25 supporters will attend a roundtable with Obama, with each person contributing up to $32,400. The DNC says the fundraiser is the 27th the President's done for the party committee since the 2012 election.

The second event will be held at the home of Alonzo Mourning, the former NBA star for the Miami Heat. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, DNC chair and Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and three other Democratic House members will join Obama at the event. Roughly 75 people are expected to attend, with tickets ranging from $16,200 per person to $32,400 per couple.

The President is committed to headline at least six fundraisers for the DCCC this year, with an additional six for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Paul Begala says Obama's doing just what a sitting president should to help his party in a midterm election year.

"Presidents in mid-term elections rarely deliver votes by old-fashioned stumping,” said Begala.  “Reagan couldn't, nor could Clinton or Bush.  But what they can do are two things: raise issues and raise money.  With his middle-class economic agenda, he is raising big issues: equal pay for women, raising the minimum wage, pre-K, etc.  Now it looks like he's raising big money, too.  That's all a party can ask of a President in a mid-term.”

Begala is a senior adviser to Priorities USA, the super PAC set up to support Obama's 2012 re-election that's now raising money for a potential Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016.

Motivating the base?

The President's approval ratings are currently hovering in the low to mid 40s in most national polls. That's slightly better than the 37% approval President George W. Bush registered in CNN polling in March 2006, at the exact same point in his second term in the White House. The Republicans went on to suffer huge losses to the Democrats that November, losing control of both the House and the Senate.

While Obama's overall approval ratings are nothing to brag about, he still remains popular with most Democrats, which means he can still help motivate the party's base. And that's always an issue with Democratic voters, who usually don't show up in the same numbers in midterm years as they do in presidential election years.

The smaller and older electorate that usually turns out during midterm contests traditionally favors Republicans over Democrats.

"Democrats lost in 2010 because they didn't show up," says Democratic strategist Ben LaBolt.

"President Obama has a singular ability to motivate and turn out a winning Democratic coalition, and while you might not see him campaigning in states that tend to vote Republican in presidential elections, Democrats are counting on him to make sure that the grassroots network that carried him to two victories focuses on the stakes in their election," added LaBolt, who worked for Obama from his Senate years through the 2012 campaign.

LaBolt served as national press secretary for the President’s re-election campaign.

State of Play

Democrats hold a 55-45 majority in the Senate (53 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the party), but are defending 21 of the 36 seats up in November, with half of those Democratic-held seats in red or purple states.

In the House of Representatives, Democrats need a net gain of 17 seats from the GOP to regain control of the chamber. Political handicappers consider that a tall order, considering the shrinking number of competitive congressional districts nationwide.

Following the GOP’s victory last week in a closely-watched special congressional election in Florida, some in the GOP are feeling increasingly confident about how they'll fare in November's elections.

"I think we're in for a tsunami-type election in 2014," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus said Tuesday at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

"My belief is, it's going to be a very big win, especially at the U.S. Senate level, and we may add some seats in congressional races," Priebus added.


Filed under: 2014 • President Obama
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Chris-E...al

    We should all get a tatoo on in our forehead where we can buy sell and trade and no war any longer ! And It would read B.H.O. ? Bad heads only ?????? ? Any suggest ions ?

    March 20, 2014 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
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