Sunday, October 19, 2014

African American Turnout and the Midterm

Sheryl Gay Stolberg reports at The New York Times:
The confidential memo from a former pollster for President Obama contained a blunt warning for Democrats. Written this month with an eye toward Election Day, it predicted “crushing Democratic losses across the country” if the party did not do more to get black voters to the polls.
“African-American surge voters came out in force in 2008 and 2012, but they are not well positioned to do so again in 2014,” Cornell Belcher, the pollster, wrote in the memo, dated Oct. 1. “In fact, over half aren’t even sure when the midterm elections are taking place.”
Mr. Belcher’s assessment points to an urgent imperative for Democrats: To keep Republicans from taking control of the Senate, as many are predicting, they need black voters in at least four key states. Yet the one politician guaranteed to generate enthusiasm among African Americans is the same man many Democratic candidates want to avoid: Mr. Obama.
Now, Democrats are deploying other prominent black elected officials and other surrogates, buttressed by sophisticated voter targeting efforts, to stoke black turnout. At the White House, the president is waging an under-the-radar campaign, recording video advertisements, radio interviews and telephone calls specifically targeting his loyal African-American base.
“Anybody who looks at the data realizes that if the black vote, and the brown vote, doesn’t turn out, we can’t win. It’s just that simple,” said Representative Marcia L. Fudge of Ohio, the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, referring to African-American and Latino voters. “If we don’t turn out, we cannot hold the Senate.
In August, Dante Chinni wrote at The Wall Street Journal:
African American voter turnout tends to decline in midterms elections, usually at the expense of Democratic candidates who routinely garner more than 80% of their vote. In the last few presidential elections the percentage of blacks that vote has been very close to that of whites, according to the Census Current Population Survey. It even surpassed the white vote in 2012, according to that data.
In midterms, the percentage of people who declines across all races, but the drops are deeper among African Americans.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Polarization and the Electorate

Pew reports on its panel survey:
The likely electorate is more polarized than the public. ... Although overall turnout among the public is likely to be around 40%, 73% of those who hold consistently conservative attitudes are likely to vote in the midterm, as are 52% of those with mostly conservative views. As other surveys have found, voters on the left are less politically engaged in this election: 58% of those with consistently liberal views and just 32% of those with mostly liberal attitudes are likely to turn out. And among those with about an equal mix of conservative and liberal attitudes, just 25% are likely to go to the polls.
Those who are consistently conservative and liberal, who together make up only about one-in-five (22%) in the general public, make up 36% of those most likely to vote. By contrast, those with mixed opinions will be only 24% of the electorate, although they constitute 39% of the general public. (Click here for details about how ideological consistency is measured.)
Hostility toward the opposing party is a key marker of polarization and a strong motivator for voting, especially among Republicans. Both Republicans and Democrats have long held negative views of the opposite party. But the level of partisan hostility has grown dramatically in the past 20 years. The new panel survey finds a strong link between having a highly negative reaction to the opposing party and likelihood of turning out to vote, particularly among Republicans.
Who voted in the primaries? Highest reported rate: consistent conservatives. Primaries often hold the key to the general election, in that they determine the choices available to voters. Is there polarization there? Absolutely. We find that 64% of consistent conservatives reported voting in a primary election this year, compared with 49% of consistent liberals. The self-reported turnout numbers are lower among those with ‘mostly’ conservative or liberal views, though the pattern of higher turnout on the right remains, with 46 percent of ‘mostly conservative’ voters having cast a primary ballot and 30 percent of ‘mostly liberal’ voters.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Fundamentals

At AEI, Karlyn Bowman explains some fundamentals that favor the GOP in the midterm:
Presidential Popularity: When presidents are unpopular, their parties typically lose seats. With President Obama’s approval rating in dismal territory, it’s doubtful this election will be an exception. In the most recent ABC/Post poll, the president’s 40 percent approval rating is the lowest of his career. In early October 2010, his approval rating was at 50 percent, and the Democrats lost more than 60 seats in the House. Bill Clinton’s approval rating in his sixth year was 60 percent, and his party gained seats. The president isn’t on the ballot, of course, and most people say he won’t be a factor in their vote. But of the remainder, more people in recent polls say their vote will be to express opposition to him than say it will be to express support.
The Mood: It’s not new news that Americans are deeply dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country. But the mood seems particularly sour. In Fox’s latest poll, 58 percent of registered voters say that “Things are going to hell in a hand basket.” Only 35 percent feel that “Everything will be alright.” One measure of discontent is the familiar right direction/wrong track question first asked by the Roper Organization in 1973. In the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, just 25 percent of registered voters say things in the nation are generally headed in the right direction, while 65 percent say things are off on the wrong track. In mid-October 2010, registered voters were slightly more optimistic. Thirty-two percent gave the right track response, and the Democrats still had huge losses. In his analysis for the ABC/Post poll, Gary Langer notes that approval ratings and views that the country is on the right track correlate highly with midterm gains and losses. This is bad news for Democrats.
It’s Still the Economy: Gallup reported earlier this summer that although public confidence in the economy was improving slightly, the public “still shows greater concern over it than in prior midterm elections.” In recent polls, most people say that the economy will be the top issue for them personally in this election. The ABC/Post poll reports that 22 percent of Americans say their finances have become better since Obama became president, 30 percent say worse, and 46 percent say they have stayed about the same. Even more ominous, only 16 percent of Americans think the standard of living in the country has been getting better, while 57 percent say it has been getting worse.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

American Crossroads v. Begich

American Crossroads goes after Mark Begich's record in Anchorage:

GOP Surge

Nicholas Confessore reports at The New York Times that GOP Senate candidates and related groups have overcome the Democratic fundraising lead.
All told, in seven races for which both Democrats and Republicans provided complete fund-raising totals by Wednesday evening — Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan and North Carolina — Republicans held more cash in six of them, with a net advantage of about $7 million. At the same time, Democrats had booked more advertising from Sept. 29 through Election Day in at least five of those races, with the biggest advantages in North Carolina and Iowa, according to a Republican tracking media purchases. In Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia and Iowa, Republican contenders posted their best fund-raising quarter of the year. In Iowa, the Republican candidate, Joni Ernst, who narrowly leads in polling, raised $6 million, more than double the amount taken in by her Democratic opponent, Representative Bruce Braley, and reported three times as much in cash on hand than Mr. Braley. Representative Tom Cotton of Arkansas reported raising $3.8 million, far more than the Democratic incumbent, Senator Mark Pryor, who took in $2.2 million. In Colorado, Representative Cory Gardner raised $4.5 million and reported $1.4 million more in cash on hand than Senator Mark Udall, the Democratic incumbent.
In past cycles, you had candidates that have really disappointed people,” said Ray Washburne, a top Republican fund-raiser and the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. “This time, they are seeing that great candidates have been recruited and vetted, and they are getting stronger as the race goes on, and not fumbling the ball.”

People smell victory,” Mr. Washburne said.Continue reading the main story
American Crossroads, the super PAC founded by Karl Rove, raised $11 million, making September its best month yet in this campaign cycle. An affiliated political nonprofit, Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, which does not disclose its donors, also received substantial new donations in September, an official confirmed. The group has purchased about $26 million in advertising for the last five weeks of the campaign, including new spending in Colorado and Iowa, and the group’s first advertising in the Senate race in New Hampshire.
Gary Langer reports at ABC:
Barack Obama and his political party are heading into the midterm elections in trouble. The president’s 40 percent job approval rating in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll is the lowest of his career – and the Democratic Party’s popularity is its weakest in polling back 30 years, with more than half of Americans seeing the party unfavorably for the first time.
The Republican Party is even more unpopular. But benefitting from their supporters’ greater likelihood of voting, GOP candidates nonetheless hold a 50-43 percent lead among likely voters for U.S. House seats in the Nov. 4 election.
See PDF with full results, charts and tables here.
These and other results are informed by an array of public concerns on issues from the economy to international terrorism to the Ebola virus, crashing into a long-running crisis of confidence in the nation’s political leadership. Almost two-thirds say the country is headed seriously off on the wrong track. Even more, three-quarters, are dissatisfied with the way the political system is working.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Edgy Kashkari Ad

Carla Marinucci reports at The San Francisco Chronicle:
With a new TV ad that depicts a drowning boy, Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari aims to make the case that Gov. Jerry Brown has “betrayed” California children.
The 30-second spot, called “Betrayal,” will start airing Tuesday in every media market in the state.
It shows a young boy drowning in a swimming pool. “When kids in failing schools begged Jerry Brown to save them, he betrayed them,” says the caption in the spot, as the child struggles underwater.
The ad shows Kashkari pulling the boy to safety and addressing the camera:
“I’m running for governor because every kid, in every neighborhood, deserves a good education and a chance for a better life. Jerry Brown betrayed our kids to protect his donors.”
Kashkari’s ad is playing off the recent Vergara v. California court decision, in which a Los Angeles judge found that the state’s system of teacher tenure violates the constitutional rights of children in poorer school districts by making it all but impossible to fire incompetent instructors.