Democratic pollster predicts 'huge turnout disadvantage' in 2014
March 25th, 2014
12:18 PM ET
8 months ago

Democratic pollster predicts 'huge turnout disadvantage' in 2014

Washington (CNN) - A leading Democratic pollster predicted a "sobering" turnout disadvantage for her party in this year's midterm elections and called on Democrats to articulate "a bigger economic agenda" this fall.

"There is a huge turnout disadvantage and challenge," Democratic pollster Celinda Lake said Tuesday at a breakfast with reporters. "There is always a challenge in turnout in an off year, but it's really dramatic this time."

Lake was speaking a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. Lake and Republican pollster Ed Goeas revealed results of a new George Washington University poll that showed GOP voter intensity in 2014 outpacing Democratic intensity by seven points.

The poll indicated that 64% of Republicans say they are "extremely likely" to vote in November's midterms, compared with 57% of Democrats.

"I think we saw it play out in the Florida special," Lake said, referring to the GOP's special election victory earlier this month in Florida's 13th Congressional district. She called the Republican turnout machine in that race "darn effective," and said Democrats should not underestimate the GOP's get-out-the-vote operation this year.

"There are some people on our side who gloat about the Democrats' turnout advantage and kind of miss the Republican turnout operation," she said. "We tend to be dismissive of it, but it was very effective."

It's worth noting that voter intensity is an imprecise predictor of performance: In a George Washington University poll in mid-October 2012, weeks before President Obama won re-election and Democrats retained control of the Senate, Republicans had an 8-point lead over Democrats on the same likely-to-vote question.

Still, that was a presidential year, in which Democratic turnout jumped. Today, President Obama's approval ratings are grim, threatening midterm candidates in his party. Lake pointed to a several glimmers of hope for Democrats, though, including advantages over Republicans on issues like Medicare and Social Security that are important to older voters who play a larger role in non-presidential elections. As for the party base, she said "Democrats are very united and satisfied with their party."

What we learned from Florida-13

Lake said Democratic candidates must weave their policies and day-to-day campaign messages into a larger frame "solely focused on middle class populist economics."

"Democrats need to articulate a bigger economic agenda to really solidify this election," she said. "We talk about minimum wage, child care, and these are very popular policies. But we need a more muscular bigger economic agenda laid out there. "

Lake later said that "Democrats need to be on the side of small business. We need to be more aggressive and comfortable being on the side of small business."

The poll indicated that Republicans are fractured and hold their party in low esteem, with 61% of Republicans saying they are not pleased with the direction of the GOP. But Goeas pointed to the party's advantages when it comes to dealing with the economy, taxes and the federal budget - as well as President Obama's disapproval rating.

The survey showed that most Americans have never heard of the Koch brothers, the billionaire businessmen behind a constellation of well-funded conservative groups gunning to put Congress in GOP control. Democrats, led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, have sought to raise the Kochs' profile in recent weeks, hoping to tie Republicans to shadowy corporate interests.

"Trying to make the Koch brothers into red meat is going to be about as effective as what we tried to do for several cycles with George Soros," Goeas said. "Most people don’t know who they are."

 


Filed under: 2014 • Polls
soundoff (118 Responses)
  1. Paul Rifenberg

    "Democrats need to be on the side of small business. We need to be more aggressive and comfortable being on the side of small business." Uh....hard to do that while you pushed through a job-killing "Obamacare" program, AND are in favor of raising the minimum wage.

    March 25, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  2. Yeah

    Saying they need better articulation is so insulting. In that they're basically saying the rest of us are all too dumb to see how great their proposed policies are. The thing is, many of us see how "great" these policies are and JUST DON"T WANT THEM!

    March 25, 2014 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  3. Clowns Rule

    Massive debt, failed foreign policy, continued high employment (higher than the actual figures since so many have dropped off of the roles), NSA scandal, Bengazi scandal, fast and furious, and oh yes, Obamacare. Why would we let these clowns continue? Granted most politicians are at fault for their greed, but the dems have controlled the power recently. TERM LIMITS. The politicians are corrupt and need to be reigned in!

    March 25, 2014 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    TONE

    You right wingers on here don't get all happy and giddy by this prediction because in either louisana or mississippi people are giving jindal hell for not expanding medicare this can be the republican' s waterloo they are not only dems they are also republicans you better hope that the republican voters come out to vote and to boot the party is fractured, the ACA will bury the Gop.Gopers who are benefitting from the ACA will tell other Gopers.
    ===========================
    Dims will promise the world without a single idea of how to pay for it. Thanks for proving the obvious, Obama is creating a group satisfied with crumbs for the table top, He should be trying to expand jobs and the American Dream instead of poverty and tax payer dependence.

    March 25, 2014 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  5. thunderbolt

    Tone..........shouldn't that be tone death. Where have you been why the horror stories have been coming in?You possibly could be right, or the republicans might just take all the seats but one or two....................I'll bet on the latter...........

    March 25, 2014 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  6. hkirwin

    Jeff Brown in Jersey

    If Democrats don't vote, they deserve what they get stuck with. Don't be stupid. VOTE!!!!!
    ===========================

    A vote for more of this is a vote for stupidity

    March 25, 2014 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  7. hkirwin

    GREG

    Turnout in November her in Florida is going to be huge because medicinal marijuana is on the ballot. Hoping for a landslide in giving Governor Scott the boot.
    =====================================

    Most people wants jobs. Dims want legal drugs and crumbs.

    March 25, 2014 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  8. TONE

    @Dean
    All thanks to Obama. Once he's out, we'll hit the 'reset' button and get the country back on track.

    You are delusional to think that a republican will get our country back on track when they were the ones to drive us over a cliff in the first place, and are still defending the same old tired policies that got us there, tax cuts to the rich, and wars for poor peoples kids.

    March 25, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  9. Rick

    The Dems have not given people a reason to vote for them. Unless your looking for a handout the odds are you are voting Republican. That 's the simple truth.

    March 25, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  10. William

    I don't vote Republican all they represent are Canadians and i don't vote Democratic because all they run for election are blue dog democrats.

    March 25, 2014 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  11. Reggie

    However the left is very good at organizing door to door and fake or fraudulent ballots are almost a given in swing states...even here in WA I had a few times young people come to my door and ask if I voted for Obama and for local Democrats...

    March 25, 2014 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  12. hkirwin

    TONE

    You right wingers on here don't get all happy and giddy by this prediction because in either louisana or mississippi people are giving jindal hell for not expanding medicare this can be the republican' s waterloo they are not only dems they are also republicans you better hope that the republican voters come out to vote and to boot the party is fractured, the ACA will bury the Gop.Gopers who are benefitting from the ACA will tell other Gopers.
    ==============================

    Most productive people want jobs, a future, and a good economy. Dims want Medicaid, expanded medicare, and increased taxes onthe working few. Go figure.

    March 25, 2014 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  13. Tampa Tim

    Thunder – A person has to be completely out to lunch to not realize unemployment is down, the number of uninsured is down, we are out of one war and soon out of a second, the market has more than doubled, bin Laden is dead, General Motors and Chrysler are alive, the housing market is back, millions refinanced to save their homes, oil production is up, we actually have allies, the Great Recession of 2008 is over, etc. were you asleep for 5 years?

    March 25, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  14. hkirwin

    Big_D

    The more people vote the better Democrats do. Seems to me that shows they represent more people with jobs.
    ==============================

    Nope, they just trick the poor, uneducated, immigrants, and minorities, You were right on on point....the majority thanks to Obama.

    March 25, 2014 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  15. William

    Vote Green Party

    March 25, 2014 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  16. Independent Going to Vote GOP

    FU CNN and you picking and choosing what comments to allow. I hope one day your CEOs are dragged into the streets to pay for the biased lies you tell America. Freedom of speech does not exist in the liberal media. CNN hates facts!

    March 25, 2014 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  17. TONE

    @Rick
    The Dems have not given people a reason to vote for them. Unless your looking for a handout the odds are you are voting Republican. That 's the simple truth.

    The the republicans reasons for people to vote for them is I AM RACIST SO YOU ALL CAN VOTE FOR ME. Otherwise i cannot dig up anything that will make people vote for republicans.

    March 25, 2014 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  18. Vince

    Dems need to relax. Let the Repubs take the Senate. Nothing is going to get done in the next 2 years anyway, regardless of what party controls congress, so let them take it. It will work out better in the end. When Repubs win anything they always think they have a mandate and they start pushing social issues, which the majority of Americans don't care about. Let them do that for 2 years. The president will just veto everything they pass, the public will get tired of hearing about small government this and that while they push laws that introduce the government into our bodies and bedrooms...and that will welcome in President Hilary in 2016.

    March 25, 2014 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
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