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. Abbey

    The average Democrat waits to be told on when and who to vote for. You would think this would be a huge advantage for the party. Those days are ending.

    March 25, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  2. betterdays

    Pay them to vote. That'll get 'em out there.

    March 25, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  3. Jean

    Statistics show that if everybody actually voted, Democrats would win 93% of the time. Probably the only races they would lose would be the severely gerrymandered districts. That should be incentive for Dems to vote if nothing else.

    March 25, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  4. DemsAreBadForYourHealth

    There's a fundamental lack of understanding of how our government works among democrats, evidenced by the relatively less importance they place on mid-term elections. They're so dumb.

    March 25, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  5. Abbey

    If you voted for the current administration and DNC party for the last 2 elections I bet right now you feel violated. Better you than me.

    March 25, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    ""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"

    Yeah, that one that was lost by only 1.9% in a traditionally and historically conservative district that went to a GOPer by 18%, 35% and 15% in the last 3 elections? That's the evidence of massive turnout problems? If you want the math, go look at what Silver says. If you want bobbleheads pretending to be psychic, then stick with the pundits.

    March 25, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    "All your millennials are belong to Rand Paul."

    If you think that, you're not paying attention to polls and data, just to the cartoon narrative running in your head.

    March 25, 2014 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  8. Steve

    Patriot You are delirium, Are you unemployed. did you know that google employees more than 80,000 people. the Ceo's make millions. Without the Ceo's brains the company would fail along with more than 80,000 jobs. Now times this by 20,000 large companies that would be a lot of lost jobs. Just quit talking trash, lies, Incompetence .

    March 25, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  9. Denise

    Ask Mtt Romney about bygone days......

    March 25, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  10. Steve D

    Waah! Both parties are in the pockets of Wall Street and the Dems aren't running anyone progressive enough! So I'll take my ball and go home. Well, serves you right if the GOP wins. Politics is the art of the possible and running your ideal candidate isn't possible, so deal with it like a grown-up and vote for the best you can.

    Or vote for a third party and vote for the opposition. The best argument for the two-party system is our third party candidates.

    March 25, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  11. Ancient Texan

    The millions that stayed at home in the 2012 elections rather than vote for a very qualified candidate that happened to be Mormon, surely have awakened and plan on going to the polls this year. This nation is fast approaching the 'point of no return' and must see a turnaround or cease to be the country we grew up with and love.

    March 25, 2014 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  12. Dave

    The pollsters should never underestimate how much Republicans have angered the Democratic base.

    Republican SHUTDOWN POLITICS will be the key factor to 2014. Obstructing jobs bills. Cutting foodtsamps for Veterans. The war on women.

    That part doesn't have as great a chance as they think.

    March 25, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  13. Tampa Tim

    Prose this mean right wingnuts won't have to suppress the vote?

    March 25, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  14. claudius1964

    Meh..... nobody tells me how to vote anymore..... 🙁

    March 25, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  15. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    No Abbey. That would be your ilk. Rush, Hannity and the rest of the klan tell you who to vote for.

    March 25, 2014 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  16. Silence DoGood

    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.
    Good for you! Radical Right wingers are scary sometimes but if enough good people get out there and vote we will save this country from a corporate theocracy take over that the Radical Right wants so badly. This is not my future. If you want to be really scared listen to them in their own words:
    "I hope that's not where we're going, but you know if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around? I'll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out." —Nevada GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle, floating the possibility of armed insurrection in a radio interview, Jan. 2010

    March 25, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  17. Monomachos

    Better be careful Celinda, Democrats are attacking Nate Silver for saying Republicans have a 60% chance of taking the Senate. Democrats don't want to hear that they aren't going to win every election.

    March 25, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |

    More FoxLite lies.

    March 25, 2014 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  19. Mark

    Shhhh...they're referring to black people. Tell me I'm wrong!

    March 25, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  20. Amy

    "Lake was speaking a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor."
    "Lake pointed to a several glimmers of hope for Democrats, though...."
    Dear CNN – how much time would it take to have somebody quickly read through your articles for grammatical errors and typos?

    March 25, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  21. Terry B.

    ...Although with Putin trying to bring back the USSR....there's still some hope for the Demies?

    March 25, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  22. Strategerist

    The Obama's administration's radical liberal agenda has awoken the slumbering giant of center-right voters in America. Obama has also failed to live up to the hype and has led many moderates and center-left Dems to abandon him. But he and his acolytes seem strangely oblivious or uncaring about it. They continue to act and speak the same old lines from the liberal playbook, which clearly has put them in this situation.
    NYC Mayor de Blasio is finding that out as well.

    March 25, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  23. Buddha

    How do we get people to understand that this election is more important than a presidential election? It's even worse with local elections, which are even more important. Is it the amount of money being spent? Do we have to buy all the turnout? Why don't the minorities and the poor understand this?

    March 25, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  24. Gunderson

    Old Gunderson not make News, just report News. Now would you believe it. just read on NBC News nobody can afford a new car. Old Gunderson bought new car 2 years ago. The Dealer wants to buy it back, (Make Expensive Trade) because he needs used cars to sell. Now after 5 years of Current Administration why all Car Dealers starving to death. Nobody buying new cars! Who want support more of that? "Stumble" Care killing jobs, No Money. It is the high cost of living brought to by Big Spending Liberals. Hope you have good Retirement Plan.

    March 25, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  25. 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.

    March 25, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
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