Barack Obama’s 2014 campaign to help hold the Senate and gain seats in the House is hampered by one salient factor: Obama’s own low poll numbers are a drag for candidates, who consequently want to keep him at a distance.
The rollout of Obamacare, with all its glitches and subsequent disaffection among voters, has caused some Democrats to divorce themselves from the Obama Administration. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll in December showed Obama with 54% disapproval of him and only 43% of respondents approving.
Yet Terry Holt, a consultant and former George W. Bush campaign spokesman, said, “Obama has an opportunity to be very effective in the midterms without necessarily being the midterm poster child. His primary role will be fundraiser in chief. How you do that while staying out of the story is really the question.”
Democratic pollster John Anzalone questioned, “I don’t think you are going to see [Obama] do a lot of campaigning, but there are some places — does he go to New Hampshire or Iowa, places like that, for Senate races? I do think most presidents concentrate on being a fundraising asset.” It’s not likely in Iowa; a poll last month showed Obama with a 38% approval rate there. Likewise, in Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, and North Carolina, where Senate Democrat incumbents are vulnerable, Obama may not show up.
As a result of Obama’s unpopularity, voters are likely to see a lot of former president Bill Clinton, whose popularity remains high.
However, just because Obama may eschew swing-state campaigning doesn’t mean he won’t do what he does best – raise funds. He has appeared at five fundraisers each for Democrats in the Senate and the House campaign arms, two events that supported both houses, and another fifteen for the Democratic National Committee. White House spokesman Eric Schultz warned, “Everyone here understands what’s at stake in the midterms next year and how voters in these states will be making critical choices with lasting impacts. That is why the president is committed to helping candidates who share his priorities prevail next November.”
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokeswoman Emily Bittner echoed that they were depending on Obama “with fundraising, mobilizing turnout, or communicating with voters about how Democrats will focus on creating jobs instead of bitter partisanship.”