Democratic pollster predicts 'huge turnout disadvantage' in 2014
March 25th, 2014
12:18 PM ET
8 years 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."

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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. Justin

    Democrats have always been lazy voters. Unless its a general election for POTUS they dont vote.

    March 25, 2014 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  2. democrat tll I die

    Poll after poll shows people are unhappy with the direction of the country. Low democratic turnout is people not supporting the current agenda and not voting for it. Pretty simple.

    March 25, 2014 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  3. 2L

    This doesn't look/sound good for Dems

    March 25, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  4. Thomas Williams

    By the Democrats get through having dead people voting, people voting two or three times due to no ID required, etc., it will not matter about physical turnout. It will be OK, business as usual for voting in America (crooked as crooked can be). Polls in our stated have been run by Democrats since U.S.Grant left office, so, there you go.

    March 25, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  5. WhiteISaColor

    They can't afford to round up felons and illegal immigrants every national election or is just interesting how the majority of states with a voter ID law swings heavily away from the Democrat party?

    March 25, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  6. rs

    As the Republicans in the states they control have effectively taken the right to vote from potentially millions of minority, elder and female votes, this should not be a shock to anyone.

    March 25, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  7. Rednip

    While a 7 point enthusiasm gap isn't great news (for us Dems), one should note that 2010 there was an 18 point gap. In 2012, the GOP had a 6 point advantage in that metric.

    March 25, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  8. Fish

    The Dems blew the biggest political advantage in history after Obama's elections, they allowed the Rabid right to control the debate and failed to press the fact that the Bush agenda must be reversed, deregulation is not working, TBTF is now Too big to bailout and above all instead of fighting Wall Street greed Obama gave them trillions and continues to do so to this day!!! Why the hell should anyone vote for more years of the failed Bush doctrine??? Democracy is dead vote for a lobbyist instead!!!

    March 25, 2014 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  9. Demigod Vadik, CA

    I think someone here said it best...

    ...if as a Democrat you don't go out and vote, then you have no one to blame but yourself...

    ...Democrats are a huge majority in this country, but Republicans vote more, this is a pains me to know it, and it holds this country back every time because Republicans win and bring everything to a halt, but it is a FACT... have to vote, PERIOD...

    March 25, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  10. John Q Public

    Obamacare... OWN IT!!!

    March 25, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  11. steve-o

    So all they have to do is vote a few more times than usual, like they always do.

    March 25, 2014 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  12. TONE

    Reading some of the right wing comments on here has encouraged me to have young people in my community to register and vote in 2014, and i encourage them to vote for dems, independent, but no republicans.

    March 25, 2014 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  13. Zotster

    Frankly, it doesn't matter whether you vote Elephant or Donkey; both parties are owned by corporate America, and neither one represents actual Americans. Rather than vote for one of the Big Two, either don't bother voting or vote for candidates from non-corporate-owned parties. Once we get down to presidents being elected with 10% of the eligible votes, our current failed system will completely fall apart and the chaos should result in something much better.

    March 25, 2014 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  14. NorCalMojo

    All your millennials are belong to Rand Paul.

    March 25, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  15. jamesbx

    Seeing the Democrats come out with tepid support of NSA spying, seeing the TSA and other federal agencies onerous execution of unreasonable search grow under a Democratic administration, seeing a refusal of an administrative change to the DEA schedule of marijuana. These are all within the control of the current administration.

    I voted Democrat because I thought they were more about personal freedom. I was wrong. They shouldn't be surprised by my not really caring that much if they get re-elected.

    March 25, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  16. Anonymous

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

    ... like Barack Obama?

    March 25, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  17. Abbey

    A bigger economic agenda?

    What revenues aren't high already?

    March 25, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  18. JodyP

    We sure know who the Koch Brothers and the like are here in Wisconsin. It is obscene how much money is wasted in these campaigns. We need campaign reform and the citizens united ruling overturned. Democracy has been hijacked.

    March 25, 2014 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  19. disgusted with political games

    Both parties should stop discussing what they need to say to win elections and actually do something to persuade people to vote for them. "a little less talk and a lot more action baby" Actions speak louder than words etc., etc., etc., ad infinitum. Telling us what they think we want to hear is only digging the hole deeper dudes! Time for a little honesty and work!

    March 25, 2014 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  20. Steve

    A few dems Vote twice fact That should help. Just vote absentee then vote physically. No ID required. fill up the busses with diesel and give away lunch and cell phones and promise 2 more years of free Obama money. This will help.

    Good Luck

    March 25, 2014 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  21. Patriot

    So apathy will give the upper hand to the forces of greed, corruption, exploitation, and racism that is the conservative movement today. America's time as a decent, moral, force in history is coming to an end and it may be to late for Hillary to save it in 2016.

    March 25, 2014 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  22. Lucas

    Democrats only care enough to vote if the person is black or female.

    March 25, 2014 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  23. expand voting for all

    Why not allow voting on a smart phone? If apple can make a fingerprint scanner for a phone, there HAS to be some way to make this happen

    March 25, 2014 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  24. jack2

    We are just letting the democrats bury themselves with tgheir lame policies and lack of economic progress

    March 25, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  25. JJR

    Too bad how there is no incompetent community organizers or they all would come out.

    March 25, 2014 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
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