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

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid