Democratic candidates shouldn't try to divorce themselves completely from President Barack Obama in this year's midterm elections even though the president's job approval ratings are sagging, says Democratic pollster Geoff Garin.
"Democrats ought to think twice about running away from Obama," Garin told me. "The truth is, for most of these individuals, it's not clear how effectively they can distance themselves from Obama" because Republicans will be making every effort to tie them to the Democratic president. A better course would be to specify exactly which Obama policies they agree with and which they oppose, Garin said.
He underscored that polls show voters support some of Obama's major policies, such as increasing the minimum wage and making sure workers receive the overtime pay to which they are entitled. Democrats would be wise to back those ideas, he said.
Garin, one of the Democratic Party's most respected pollsters, said crucial independent voters don't want to reward Obama for policies they disagree with but they also don't want to reward Republicans for "obstructionism" that is blocking so much of Obama's agenda on Capitol Hill. Americans are tired of perpetual bickering and want their leaders to get something done, Garin said.
"People are really kind of fed up with the inactivity in Washington and the failure to solve problems," he added. "There's a demand for somebody to do something."
The pollster, who advises many Democratic candidates across the country, notes that turnout will be crucial to success in November, and the Democrats need to do all they can to make sure their voters actually cast their ballots because the Republicans will probably be energized and motivated to vote. "This will be an election driven more by partisanship than anti-incumbency," Garin said.