Obama adviser Pfeiffer says president isn’t a midterm liability
CNN's Greg Clary and Jason Seher
Washington (CNN) - One of President Obama’s advisers said Sunday that, despite the President’s low popularity numbers, he’ll still be helpful for Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections.
A CNN Poll of Polls from last week, averaging four national surveys that measure the President's approval rating, said just 44% of Americans approve of the job Obama's doing in the White House.
But Dan Pfeiffer, senior adviser to the President, said despite those numbers, many Democratic candidates will still rely on help from Obama.
“The President will be an asset in every way to help these candidates,” Pfeiffer said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
It may not be just at campaign events, either. Pfeiffer said the President and those around him have some experience in winning elections by both old-school campaigning and modern technological tools.
“This President wrote the book on running and winning modern campaigns,” Pfeiffer said. “We're going to take all of our resources and help Democrats up and down the ballot.”
Obama's 2012 campaign wielded a massive technological advantage over GOP nominee Mitt Romney's outfit, a disparity that's been chronicled in multiple places. It prompted the Republican National Committee to put a high priority on narrowing the data deficiency. According to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, his party has done exactly that. He said David Jolly's win in a special election for a Florida congressional seat last week is proof positive Democrats no longer dominate in the use of technology.
"Our data was talking to our political field operation in a historical way for our party, and it worked," Priebus told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley on Sunday.
A confident-sounding Priebus touted the GOP's enhanced digital outreach as an extension of the party's overall vision to better connect with communities that traditionally elect Democrats to office.
"We are putting people in every single battleground state across the country, in every community," Priebus said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” "We have a historic engagement effort in Hispanic, Asian, and African-American communities - not just five months before an election, but for four years."
But beyond his party's stepped-up outreach and ever-expanding digital imprint, Priebus said the conservative vision and the persistent unpopularity of Obama’s health care law combine to make him excited about Republican prospects in the fall.
"Obamacare is complete poison out there in the field," Priebus said.
"We're going to have a good year this year, and I think we're going to win the U.S. Senate," he added.
Midterm elections are notorious for having lower turnout than presidential election years, and the disparity is even worse for Democrats than the GOP. Pfeiffer said one of the key jobs for Obama may simply be getting people to the polls.
“Democrats have to do a better job of turning out for midterm elections. We’re very good in presidential years and less good in midterms. If more Democrats do not turn out, we will not do well,” Pfeiffer said.
Another former White House insider echoed concerns about the composition of the midterm electorate.
Former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said on "Meet the Press" that the Senate could "definitely" end up in Republican hands. While Gibbs did express concern about how the Affordable Care Act will play with voters, saying the law's rollout "is still providing a huge hangover" for Democrats, the longtime Obama confidant is more worried Democrats could face a wave election - one in which more than 20 House seats change hands.
"There's a real, real danger that the Democrats could suffer big losses," Gibbs said. "If we lose the Senate, turn out the light. The party's over."