Tags: midterms | voters | 2014

Disillusioned Voters Uninspired by Midterm Choices

By    |   Wednesday, 08 October 2014 01:22 PM

With less than one month before the midterm elections, candidates and parties are failing to inspire voters who are unified only by dissatisfaction with Washington and the status quo.

According to interviews and an analysis of recent polls by The Wall Street Journal, the electorate is deeply disillusioned with the political system. The gap between those who believe the country is on the wrong track compared to those who think the country is headed in the right direction is wider than at any point before a midterm election in over 20 years.

"In the past, there was a feeling that government was on their side; now they feel the government is against them," West Virginia Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall, who is in a difficult re-election race, told the Journal. "It makes it doubly difficult for me to make my case."

Those who succeed in their campaigns are less likely to be motivated by a clear mandate on the political issues that will be on the agenda in the next Congress, and there appears to be a vacuum of issues defining each party's agenda.

"There is no mandate other than, 'We don't like the other guy,'" South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham told the Journal.

"There's definitely less energy than there was in 2010," Matt Kibbe, president of the conservative group Freedom Works, told the Journal. "One factor is the very risk-averse, almost issueless campaign that most Republicans are running."

Meanwhile, turnout is likely to be low given it was a record low levels in the primaries, which could benefit Republicans. At the same time, voters do not appear to be consistent about which issues matter most to them.

"The sour mood of voters makes election outcomes — including which party will control the Senate — hard to predict," the Journal said.

A number of politicians agree.

"This stuff is totally up in the air," New Gingrich, former House Speaker who was at the helm during the party's 1994 midterm victory, told the Journal. "You have no idea what's going to happen next."

At the same time, Republicans are favored to regain control of the Senate on the back of record low approval ratings for President Barack Obama, but even then, voters are not embracing the party in large numbers in the way that pundits had initially predicted.

"The GOP may be heading to a good November, but its victory will truly be the lesser of two evils," Fred Yang, a Democratic pollster, told the Journal.

Some races are so changeable that there are large swings in the polls from week to week, the Journal noted.

"Polling in competitive districts is more erratic than ever," New York Democratic Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told the Journal.

Candidates are responding to the uncertain climate by airing record levels of negative advertising. One expert told Newsmax TV that while negative ads will not have a major impact on voters' decision, their marginal influence could be the difference between victory and defeat in very close races.

"When the United States Senate hangs in the balance and you have these toss up races, these campaigns are desperately looking for that ad that can, you know, not move a race 10 or 15 percentage points, but can move it one or two in a Michigan, one or two in an Iowa, one or two in an Arkansas," said Ken Goldstein, a politics professor at the University of San Francisco.

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With less than one month before the midterm elections, candidates and parties are failing to inspire voters who are unified only by dissatisfaction with Washington and the status quo.
midterms, voters, 2014
Wednesday, 08 October 2014 01:22 PM
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