Election 2014 could be year of the 'anti-incumbent,' pollsters say

At a time when Congress is 'universally despised,' the climate for Election 2014 could be especially unfavorable for incumbents, more than anti-Democrat or anti-Republican, Celinda Lake of the bipartisan Battleground Poll said March 25.

Michael Bonfigli/ The Christian Science Monitor
Celinda Lake and Ed Goeas, pollsters for the Battleground Poll, speak at the Monitor Breakfast for reporters on March 25 in Washington, DC.

Bipartisan pollsters Celinda Lake and Ed Goeas jointly produce the George Washington University Battleground Poll. Ms. Lake, a Democrat, is president of Lake Research Partners. Mr. Goeas, a Republican, is president of The Tarrance Group. They were guests at the March 25 Monitor Breakfast.

The Democrats' disadvantage in expected turnout in 2014:

Lake: "Turnout is our challenge, and there are some pretty dramatic numbers ... 64 percent of Republicans are extremely likely to vote, only 57 percent of Democrats. But that drops down to 36 percent among young people [who are Democrats]."

President Obama's job approval:

Goeas: "We have seen him go from a problem with a part of the electorate to a problem with all the electorate in terms of strong support."

Democrats' ability to turn major Republican donors into a campaign issue:

Goeas: "Trying to make the Koch brothers into ... red meat [for the party base] is going to be about as effective as what we tried to do ... with [people like] George Soros. Most people didn't know who they were."

Voter response to Congress:

Lake: "Both parties in Congress are universally despised.... It could be more of an anti-incumbent year rather than an anti-Democrat or anti-Republican year."

Middle-class voters:

Goeas: "They are very hopeful about the future economically ... [but] they don't think they are doing well now."

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