Tags: Barack Obama | voters | Obama policies | Senate races | congress

Obama Front and Center in Midterms, to Dems' Dismay

Obama Front and Center in Midterms, to Dems' Dismay

By    |   Tuesday, 04 November 2014 10:24 AM

In early October, President Barack Obama stated what few Democrats in close elections wanted to hear — that the midterm elections would be about his policies even if Obama himself were not on the ballot.

"Now, I am not on the ballot this fall," Obama said in an Oct. 2 speech at Northwestern University. "But make no mistake. These policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them."

But while Obama says his policies are an issue on Election Day, Democrats — particularly those in close Senate races — have done everything possible to localize the elections.

"There are two people on the ballot tomorrow: me and Scott Brown," said incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who is in a close race in New Hampshire with Brown, the former Republican senator from Massachusetts, reports The Associated Press.

Another incumbent Democratic senator, North Carolina's Kay Hagan, made a similar argument during a recent interview with a local television reporter.

"You know, once again, this election is not about the president. He is not on the ballot. [Republican] Speaker [Thom] Tillis is trying to make that happen," Hagan said, replying to a question about whether Obama was doing a good job as president.

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Although local issues and individual candidates may have an influence on voters, a Pew Research survey found that Obama weighed heavily on the minds of voters as Election Day neared.

A national survey conducted Oct. 15-20 found 32 percent of registered voters viewed their vote for Congress as a vote against Obama, while 20 percent thought it was a vote for Obama. Just under half of respondents (45 percent) said Obama would not be a factor in their vote.

Just as important is that fewer Democratic voters see their vote as one in support of Obama.

According to Pew, in 2010, 53 percent of Democrats said their vote was for Obama, while only 38 percent said the same in the recent survey.

Whether voters see the elections as a referendum on Obama, the president's poor approval ratings are looming over the election.

"Obama's lackluster approval rating probably will be a deterrent in motivating less-attached Democratic adults to vote, while in turn providing a turnout motivator for Republicans who are eager to deliver a blow to the president by making him deal with a unified Republican Congress in his last two years," writes Andrew Dugan of Gallup Research.

Dugan notes that in six states with competitive races, "Obama's mediocre ratings have cast a shadow on Democrats' efforts to maintain" control of the Senate.

Karyln Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute echoes Dugan, telling Voice of America that four in every 10 midterm voters will be voting against the president.

For many voters, however, the one issue which continues to weigh heavily on their vote is the economy.

A pre-election survey conducted by Public Opinion Strategies of 800 likely voters from Oct. 30-Nov. 2 found 96 percent said economic issues were an important factor in deciding how they would vote.

Slightly fewer (74 percent) said the economy was either "extremely" or "very important" in determining how they would vote.

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President Obama last month said what few Democrats in close elections wanted to hear — that the midterm elections would be about his policies even if Obama himself were not on the ballot.
voters, Obama policies, Senate races, congress
Tuesday, 04 November 2014 10:24 AM
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