Democratic pollster predicts 'huge turnout disadvantage' in 2014
March 25th, 2014
12:18 PM ET
5 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. Jeff Brown in Jersey

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

    March 25, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  2. Chris-E...al

    Slow News day for sure . I wished cnn would do more news on Anthony Weiner and Bill and Hillary ?

    March 25, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  3. BBQ360

    Democrats always space the vote.

    March 25, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  4. the general

    democrats need the bus to pick them up for voting bc they are dependent and cant afford a car

    March 25, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  5. iceload

    I imagine we should show the same interest as the democrats have shown in us. None.

    March 25, 2014 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  6. Richard

    Democrats; time to start trolling the cemeteries and shooting galleries again!

    March 25, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  7. Mark

    It would be awesome if BOTH parties suffered voter turnout problems because the people finally decided that they had had enough and went to vote third party.

    March 25, 2014 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  8. angel

    this is no problems for democrats. even though they may have a lower turnout they do vote many times evening things out. one of them even voted more than 6 times remember?

    March 25, 2014 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  9. Independent Going to Vote GOP

    Remember when the democrats kept talking about helping the middle class? Remember, saving $2500 on healthcare, keeping your doctor? What about the sneaky Harry Reid who calls Americans extremest and suicide bombers because they do not agree with them. What about all the other lies to the middle class?

    The middle class got shafted by the DEMS and we will not forget the lies you all told to get elected. I am voting to out you this time.

    March 25, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  10. MC-MSgt

    If they offer some kind of freebie giveaways at the polls they will show up.

    March 25, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  11. Independent Going to Vote GOP

    Remember when the democrats kept talking about helping the middle class? Remember, saving $2500 on healthcare, keeping your doctor? What about the sneaky Harry Reid who calls Americans extremest and suicide bombers because they do not agree with them. What about all the other lies to the middle class?

    The middle class got shafted by the DEMS and we will not forget the lies you all told to get elected. I am voting to out you this time.

    March 25, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  12. smith

    One major issue dems have is there is a huge segment of Obama voters that only care about Obama. They really could care less about the rest of the Democrats.

    March 25, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  13. D. Williams

    Just need to understand in many ways this will be a general election fitted into mid term cycle. By the sis mic nature of outcomes : Obamacare, immigration, equal pay, minimum wage democrats would well to come our in droves and keep alive the their historic struggle over these defining issues of h

    March 25, 2014 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  14. He's A Chronic Liar

    What a shame. The indigent, homeless, and those too stupid to know it's an election year are going to be underrepresented. Boo, hoo.

    March 25, 2014 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  15. Matt

    I have heard the Democratic agenda for years now and see no change no hope, so what is the point of just repeating the same garbage over and over again? How's the average Joe doing these days? Not too great but Democrats would tell a homeless person they are doing better even though more people have become poor and homeless since Dems too the Oval Office!

    March 25, 2014 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  16. William

    The party of NO has a chance to take both the House and the Senate after having done nothing to deserve it. Have the inmates taken over the asylum?

    March 25, 2014 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  17. 1776usa2016

    It's harder for Dems to vote. Always has been.

    Juggling sometimes 2 and 3 jobs leaves no time to get to the polls.

    And with Republican states passing even more restrictive voting rules it has made the situation much worse.

    .

    March 25, 2014 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  18. neastsider

    Democrats need to sell no Soc. Sec.or Medicare cuts, improvements to ACA, global warming dangers, minimumwage/equal pay opportunities, tax fairness/eliminate super rich tax breaks.

    March 25, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  19. Larry L

    Both political parties have important bases from the the poorest economic classes. Republicans motivate their least wealthy voters with guns, gays and god hot-button issues. Democrats depend on the political and economic realities related to jobs, healthcare, and housing to get the poor and middle-class folks to the polls. The obstructionist tactics employed by Republicans, actually trying to prevent progress in our economy, have at some level worked to create a discouraging political climate for many Americans. Conversely, social conservatives tend to be rabid supporters of their causes – especially when fueled by distortions, conspiracies, and political tricks paid for by the fat-cats who want votes. This was a Karl Rove vision and sadly, it validates the Republican plan of never actually offering solutions – just loudly state what you are "against" without standing behind any actual specific solutions. It will be sad if that process produces results at the polls.

    March 25, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  20. bdby

    “We talk about minimum wage, child care, and these are very popular policies”

    The democrats can talk about these issues all they want. It will be like pi#### in the wind blowing back into your face. The older folk such as I resent you the democrats robbing my legacy when I die if I use Medicaid. So you really can’t make the case that the older voters on your side. Once they find out and realize you democrats really stuck it to the older folks as well all you people will be history come November.

    Come November the middle class will remember.

    March 25, 2014 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  21. Lynda/Minnesota

    Yes, well. No doubt Democrats will work exceedingly hard to Get Out The Vote ... or once again lose. Generally this is how it works ... yes?

    March 25, 2014 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  22. ru serious

    Hopefully, the voters that brought us the current Admin TWICE will stay home! Please stay home.

    March 25, 2014 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  23. Peace

    Anyone out there who thinks Dems are all that stupid and never know what they have been doing is quite wrong. I bet, just wait come November, they will prove all of you who have been underestimate them wrong. Trust me!

    March 25, 2014 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  24. mdl

    Obama voters have realized they have been dupped....so long Harry and Nancy.

    March 25, 2014 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  25. Brian

    Regardless of any party affiliation (Democrat, Republican, Birthday, Bachelor...), one has no basis to complain if he / she did not participate and vote.

    March 25, 2014 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
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