Report: Low Obama Ratings, GOP Moves Worry Democrats as Fall Elections Near

Image: Report: Low Obama Ratings, GOP Moves Worry Democrats as Fall Elections Near Rep. Joe Garcia

Saturday, 15 Mar 2014 10:17 PM

By Todd Beamon

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President Barack Obama's plunging approval ratings have Democrats running for Congress this fall so worried that one party lawmaker described him as "poisonous," while others said his political operation has done little to help candidates, The New York Times reports.

They're also fretting over this week's Republican victory in the special House election in Florida and the millions of dollars conservative groups are spending to attack Democrats for supporting Obamacare, the Times reports.

“I’m a prolific fundraiser, but I can’t compete with somebody who has got 50-some-odd billion dollars,” Rep. Joe Garcia told the Times.

The Florida Democrat, in his first term, has been pummeled by in more than $500,000 worth of negative TV ads by Americans for Prosperity and other conservative groups over this support of the Affordable Care Act, the Times reports.

AFP, which is backed by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, spent $140,000 on ads targeting Garcia last November. He is being challenged by Republican Carlos Curbelo.

"One hopes the cavalry is coming," Garcia told the Times. "One hopes the cavalry is coming."

For its report, the Times interviewed more than two dozen Democrats — legislators, strategies and others — who contend that several challenges from Republicans this week, including David Jolly's surprise win over Democrat Alex Sink in the Florida special election on Tuesday, were developments that had not been anticipated by party officials.

Obama won that Florida district, which had been represented by for nearly 42 years by Rep. Bill Young until his death last year, in both 2008 and 2012.

Jolly's victory was seen by GOP strategist as a referendum on Obamacare.

The Times also cited Democratic concerns over former Sen. Scott Brown's decision on Friday to explore challenging first-term Democrat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire. Republican Scott recently move to the state from Massachusetts.

That seat is now in play and could help tilt the Senate back to the GOP this fall.

Another conservative superPAC, American Crossroads — cofounded by GOP strategist Karl Rove — pledged $650,000 toward Brown's effort.

Shaheen has already called on Brown to sign the agreement that helped prevent outside groups from pouring millions of dollars into his last Massachusetts Senate election. Brown lost that contest to Democrat Elizabeth Warren.

According to the Times, conservative organizations have so far spent about $40 million this election cycle. That compared to $17 million spent by Democrats.

“Everyone is trying to send the signal: Don’t get ahead of yourself — 2016 is critical, but 2014 comes first,” David Plouffe, President Obama’s former campaign manager, told the Times.

Obama’s abysmal approval ratings — 41 percent in a Wall Street Journal/NBC Poll last week, matching a New York Times/CBS News survey in February — is another cause for concern.

Any rating under 50 at midterm spells trouble for the party in power.

“The state of Democrats is very much tied to the state of the president — and in that regard, these are far from the best of times,” Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster, told the Times.

As a result, most Democrats seeking re-election are distancing themselves from Obama — and some have asked former President Bill Clinton to campaign for them, the Times reports.

"We haven’t really focused much on the president," said Democratic Rep. Ami Bera of California. "We’re focused on Sacramento County and the folks that are there."
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