News / USA

Democrats Fear Poor Voter Turnout in November

Democrats Worried About November Electioni
X
Jim Malone
May 14, 2014 8:06 PM
U.S. congressional elections are less than six months away but Democrats are already worried their voters will not be able to match the intensity of Republicans in November. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has an early look at the national voting mood from Washington.
U.S. congressional elections are less than six months away but Democrats are already worried their voters will not be able to match the intensity of Republicans in November.

Light voter turnout is the norm in non-presidential election years and it’s already a concern for President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats in 2014.

The president has been trying to whip up enthusiasm among his core supporters during some recent speeches around the country including a campaign fundraiser in California.  

“We’re going to have to make sure that we are coming out with the same urgency and the same enthusiasm that we typically show during presidential years,” he said. “ That’s what we are going to need.”

Republicans are counting on dissatisfaction with the president and his signature health care law to drive their voters to the polls, and analyst Charlie Cook said, for the moment, that gives them the upper hand looking ahead to November.

Cook said one of the keys to recent midterm elections is that Republican voters are much more likely to turn out than Democrats.

Democrats, he said, do much better in presidential election years like 2008 and 2012.

“In a presidential election year the turnout is big, it’s diverse and it looks more or less like the country,” Cook said.  “But in midterm elections when the turnout is smaller, it is whiter, it is more conservative, it’s more Republican.  It’s just real different.”

Cook said that Democrats have been trying to turn around the public’s negative perception of the Obama health care law, known as the Affordable Care Act.

But Cook said don’t hold your breath on that happening anytime soon.

“Americans may grow to love the Affordable Care Act but it sure as heck is not likely to happen between now and November and I think the odds of that happening between now and 2016 are relatively small,” he said.

Democrats' motivational challenge

President Obama’s recent poll ratings have been among the lowest of his time in the White House.

Democrats are still recovering from the chaotic rollout of the health care law.

And Republicans seem energized to vote against the president and Obamacare in November.

All this adds up to a tall order for Democrats hoping to get voters out to the polls, said Democratic pollster and strategist Celinda Lake.

“Turnout is going to be a huge issue for the Democrats, particularly younger people who are very discouraged about the economy, unmarried women, African-Americans, Latinos, all that are core constituencies for us,” Lake said.

Lake said that the very groups the Democrats need to energize have not felt the improvement in the U.S. economy.  She added that the recent focus on Ukraine and Russia has caused a drop in public approval of the president’s handling of foreign policy, which had long been a strength in public opinion surveys for the Obama White House.

Lake said Republicans will probably have a turnout advantage this year, especially with older white voters who tend to turn out in midterm elections more than other voting blocs.

In short, Lake said it looks like a “tough election cycle” for Democrats in November, though she believes Democrats can still hold on to their Senate majority by helping incumbents in key states.

Republicans excited but wary

Many Republicans are confident of their chances in November.

But they also know they have been disappointed in recent elections when their expectations fell short, especially about retaking control of the Senate.

In recent years, Tea Party-backed candidates have often failed in the general election, depriving Republicans of seats they otherwise would have won with more centrist candidates.

The battle between the Republican establishment and the Tea Party continues to play out this year with the establishment doing better so far.

The one exception was in Nebraska where Tea Party favorite and university president Ben Sasse won the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate by defeating four other contenders.

In terms of overall election strategy for 2014, House Speaker John Boehner says he wants his party to remain focused on the president, the health care law and jobs and the economy in the months leading up to November.

“I think it takes some audacity to call for greater cooperation amongst nations on the economy when they won’t even focus on the jobs issues that we’ve got right here in America that need to be resolved,” he said.

Cook and other analysts predict Republicans will hold their majority in the House of Representatives and may even pick up a few seats in November.

Most of the attention will focus on the 36 Senate races where Republicans are favored to pick up seats currently held by Democrats.

The problem for Democrats is that several of the key Senate races are taking place in states where Republican Mitt Romney rolled up big victory margins in the 2012 presidential race, like Alaska, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Democrats have very few opportunities to win Republican seats.

Their best chance may come in Kentucky where veteran Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate leader, faces a strong Democratic challenge from Stephanie Lundergan Grimes.  And that is assuming McConnell beats back a primary challenge from Tea Party favorite Matt Bevin, who trails by a wide margin in recent polls.

Public opinion analyst Karlyn Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute says Republicans sense they have their best chance in years to win back control of the Senate.  

“These Senate contests are such high stakes contests,” Bowman said. “The Republicans would desperately like to win control of the Senate and actually have a decent margin in the Senate in order to try to move some of their own issues along.”

All 435 House seats and 36 of the 100 Senate seats are at stake in November along with 36 state governorships.

Cook said if the Republicans succeed in holding all their own Senate seats they have an excellent chance to gain the six additional seats they need to claim a majority in the Senate next January.

You May Like

Afghan Government: Taliban Leader Mullah Omar Died in 2013

President Ashraf Ghani's office confirms reclusive Taliban leader died in 2013, but Taliban itself claim Omar is still alive More

Erdogan in China Amid Tensions on Uighurs, Missile System

Turkey's president has criticized China's heavy-handed policies toward Uighurs in violence-plagued Xinjiang region, where China says it is fighting foreign-backed separatists More

Critics: China’s President Using Law to Tighten Grip on Power

President Xi, who has stressed importance of 'rule of law' and law-based governance, has exerted increasingly tighter grip over society since coming to office More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs