News / USA

Obama Trying to Motivate Democrats for November Elections

President Barack Obama, accompanied by New Mexico Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, makes an unscheduled stop at Barelas Coffee House, which serves Mexican food, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, 28 Sep 2010
President Barack Obama, accompanied by New Mexico Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, makes an unscheduled stop at Barelas Coffee House, which serves Mexican food, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, 28 Sep 2010

Multimedia

Audio

In 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama won the U.S. presidency in large part because of strong voter turnout from young people, minorities, women and independents.  For this year's midterm congressional elections, analysts say that Democrats need to motivate those same groups to get out and vote again to retain their majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate.  

Over the years, Democrats and Republicans have tended to face challenges in congressional midterm elections.  Voters typically turn out in smaller numbers than when they go to the polls to elect a president, and that places a priority on making sure that a party's core supporters vote.

This year, by all accounts, Republicans are energized to support their candidates, especially through activists loyal to the grassroots conservative Tea Party movement.

With that in mind, President Obama is spending more time trying to fire up core supporters in his Democratic Party to get out and vote on November 2, especially young people who played an important role in Mr. Obama's election victory two years ago.

The president recently spoke with university journalism students in a conference call from the White House.

"You can't sit it out," said President Obama.  "You can't suddenly just check in once every 10 years or so on an exciting presidential election and then not pay attention during big midterm elections, where we have a real big choice between Democrats and Republicans."

Mr. Obama was even more forceful in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, saying it would be inexcusable and irresponsible for Democrats to sit out the election.

Public opinion surveys suggest that Democrats need to do more to energize their base supporters, especially given that Republicans believe they have enough political momentum to win back control of the House and possibly the Senate.

California Representative Kevin McCarthy was among several Republicans who spoke when they unveiled their governing agenda for Congress known as the "Pledge To America" - a call for lower taxes and cuts in government spending.

"More than 60 percent of Americans believe our country is headed in the wrong path," said McCarthy.  "They are right.  The pledge is a governing agenda that we will pursue today in order to turn the country around and put us on the right track."

With surveys showing Republicans energized to vote in November, Democratic political strategists are urging the president to take a more active role in ensuring that groups that lean Democratic - like minority voters, younger voters and women voters - show up at the polls on Election Day.

Celinda Lake is a Democratic pollster and political strategist.  She says Democrats must rely on President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to generate enthusiasm during the next several weeks.

"This is a powerful team to go mobilize the Democratic base," said Lake.  "I hope that they give the president a one-way [plane] ticket and he doesn't come back [to Washington from campaigning] until the elections because he can have an enormous influence out there, laying out our economic plan and also energizing Democrats.  And that is going to be a very, very important part of the equation."

But energizing Democratic voters could be a major challenge this year.  The public has a negative view of the economy, and that is reflected in weakening approval ratings for President Obama.

In addition, conservative and libertarian activists under the banner of the Tea Party movement are energized this year, urging voters to make a statement against the president's economic policies and against the Democratic majority in Congress.

John Fortier is a political analyst at the American Enterprise Institute here in Washington.

"In general, I think the atmosphere is greatly improved for Republicans by the Tea Party," said Fortier.  "A focus on economics and small government is good for the Republican Party.  And the voters who will come out to support their candidates will generally bring them to victory."

Democrats are spending a lot of time trying to motivate younger voters this year because, historically, they have been less likely to vote in congressional midterm elections than older voters.

This year, that could be a serious problem for Democrats, says pollster Celinda Lake.

"Younger voters are the most Democratic voters," said Lake.  "Seniors remain the toughest for us.  And if there is a story line in this election that is slightly different than the past, it is the animosity of seniors who will show up to vote."

The Tea Party movement is popular with many older voters who are upset about the size of government and who want to cut taxes and government spending.

Both major parties will be spending millions of dollars in the final weeks of this year's election campaign, hoping to persuade their core supporters to go to the polls on November 2.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs