The rise of Democratic surrogates

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Bill Clinton / photo by Kimberly Toillion

President Obama’s approval ratings stands at 42 percent in an average of all job approval polls. 53 percent of the electorate doesn’t approve of the job the president is doing. Obama fares slightly better in favorability ratings with 44 percent of Americans viewing him favorably while 49 percent view the him unfavorably. These numbers have led Obama to largely sit out the midterm elections, making appearances only in solidly Democratic states like Maine and Illinois.

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First Lady Michelle Obama / photo by Kimberly Toillion

Democratic Senate candidates across the country have tried to distance themselves from Obama in a number of ways. In Kentucky, the Democratic candidate has yet to reveal if she voted for him. In Georgia, the Democratic candidate only recently admitted she voted for the president. In Iowa, Rep. Bruce Braley stated, “I don’t owe President Obama a thing.” In states like Arkansas, Louisiana, Alaska and Kentucky, the Democratic candidates openly criticize the president, particularly over energy policy.

Obama’s sinking popularity has led to high profile Democratic figures taking his place on the campaign trail. Instead of Obama stumping for candidates, former President Bill Clinton has traveled the country to rally support for candidates. Clinton has been an asset in the South, a region that uniformly voted against Obama in 2012. Meanwhile, possible 2016 candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren has traveled to states like Iowa, New Hampshire and West Virginia in order to try and get Democrats elected. Hillary Clinton has also hit the campaign trail, stumping for candidates in Iowa, New Hampshire, Kentucky and other states. While Obama remains unwanted on the campaign trail, the first lady is in demand, traveling the country on behalf of Democratic candidates for the Senate.

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) / photo by Kimberly Toillion

Obama is not the first president to suffer low approval ratings near a second midterm. At this point in his presidency, George W. Bush had an approval rating of 37 percent with 58 percent of Americans disapproving. President George H.W. Bush also had an approval rating of 37 percent while 58 percent disapproved for his first and only midterm.

Obama’s absence from the campaign trail has given rise to other voices in the Democratic Party. Former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton has returned to the campaign trail after a six year hiatus and Sen. Elizabeth Warren is being introduced as a national figure to the Democratic base. In many ways, the 2014 elections are a warm-up act for 2016.

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