Once again, Democratic Perspective was privileged to host Democratic pollster and strategist, Celinda Lake. Her clients include the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the Democratic Governor’s Association (DGA), The White House Project, AFL-CIO, Human Rights Campaign, EMILY’s List and the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Along with Republican pollster, Kellyanne Conway, she co-authored What Women Really Want, a book that examines the way women are changing the political landscape in America.
We began by asking for her insights on the presidential race. “The numbers are very unique for this point in the race,” she said. “Romney is having much more trouble with the base at this point than a Republican usually has. A quarter of his voters said they would consider someone else. Only a third of his voters said they are voting for him. And Republican enthusiasm is actually declining. The Romney pick (of vice-presidential candidate Congressman Paul Ryan) produced the least bounce we’ve had in the last nine presidential elections.”
“It’s energized the Democrats as much as it’s energized the Republicans, she continued. “But you have a very tough economy and it would be very foolish to take for granted Obama’s re-election in such a tough economy.”
“There are very few undecided voters,” Lake added. “You have 15 percent of Obama voters who say they’d consider someone else and you have 25 percent of Romney voters who say they’d consider someone else. So that’s what’s undecided. There are a quarter of the voters who are still up for grabs. I think it does help explain why this campaign is as negative as it is. They are concentrating on anywhere from 12 to 15 battleground states.”
Asked to predict the race; whether it’s going to be very close, or if it will break one way or the other at the last minute, she responded, “I think either one could happen. But right now, I think you have to be set on it being pretty close. In the last few years, Republicans have taken a page out of the Democratic playbook and are very focused on GOTV (Get Out The Vote). They know how to do it.”
Addressing the war on women and Ryan’s stance on abortion, Lake said, “He has a very strict interpretation and he would have a Constitutional amendment on personhood. It would mean you would be in a situation where invitro fertilization would be outlawed, many forms of birth control would be outlawed, you would have miscarriages being investigated by the police…it’s ridiculous.”
As for the overwhelming amount of money being spent in this campaign, she said, “There’s talk now that the race is going to cost between $3-4 billion. We have to get an amendment passed. This is not free speech. This is paid speech, and that’s different. The Koch brothers alone will spend more on this campaign than John McCain spent on his entire presidential campaign. That’s wrong. That’s just plain wrong!”
Turning to the Senate race in Arizona, Lake said, “It’s a very exciting race. And I’d be interested in your listeners’ opinions about it. Nationally, people think this race is great; that Carmona is a fantastic recruit; that he is not a typical politician; that he has a record of public service and people are very excited. The primary is getting stranger and stranger with Flake coming out to do away with the 17th amendment…in Arizona of all places. To tell voters that they’re not going to get their say on something as important as a US senator? That’s not going to fly.”
Asked what’s behind such ideas, Lake replied, “First, it’s the emergence of the Tea Party which you have seen emerge in Arizona. The Tea Party has really been taken over by the right now – the kook faction – and they are so extreme.”
“Another thing that is fostering this conservatism is that so many moderate Republicans are scared to death of losing their primary,” she said. “It’s why Olympia Snow is not running.”
“The other thing behind this is this right wing money,” she added, “the Koch brothers, for example.”
We ended the interview by asking what one message she’d like to give to listeners. She replied, “The most important thing at this point, when we’re less than 80 days out from the election is to make sure we get the Democratic base out to vote. Tell your family and friends to vote. Don’t vote alone.”