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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

The Women Vote

Celinda Lake, Political Strategist, Lake Research Partners
Charlotte, NC
September 6, 2012

Democratic National Convention

3:30 p.m.

Ms. Lake: Thank you very much. I’m delighted to be here and delighted to have your interest. Please feel free to question me as we’re going throughout as well.

First of all in terms of the election, where we’re at right now is that women are the real battleground. So I think as many speakers would have shared with you, we’re down to about eight to ten percent of the electorate that is truly undecided. They tend to be disproportionately women voters, independent women voters. If you had to keep a key demographic in mind or a brand profile, if you will, the undecided voter right now tends to be an independent, non-college educated woman about 50 years of age, married, white, suburban woman. So that’s the key demographic target that both parties are going after to try to win over the vote.

The women’s vote is not monolithic and both conventions really targeted women voters. We can talk about how that was done.

The Republican base among women voters tends to be married moms, housewives, senior women, white women, women who are religious, particularly born again Christian women. There are more women who are born again Christians than men. There are more female church attenders in this country than there are male church attenders.

The Democratic base, by contrast, tends to be women of color, Asian America, Latinas, African American women, unmarried women, and now 50 percent of America is unmarried. It’s a very very fast demographic trend. We have about 18 states now that are majority unmarried in this country. We have 50 states, as you’re all familiar with.

Younger women. The youth vote in general being very pro-Obama and younger women actually led that trend. It was younger women who signed on for Obama, younger women who turned out, younger women who are more Democratic in 2006 as well as 2008.

What the Democrats face is a double challenge. One is to motivate their women to turn out to vote. So the Democratic base of women has lower turnout rates than the Republican base of women. You can really see that in the 2010 election.

For example there were 11 million unmarried women who turned out to vote in 2008 who did not show up to vote in 2010. 11 million unmarried women. So this is a very, this turnout issue is a very very profound issue for the Democratic party.

Then of course we’re going to battle for that independent woman as well.

On the Democratic side we believe that our strongest messages, and you saw them echoed the first night and the second night, are one, the so-called war on women. The social issues of birth control. The health care debate. The abortion debate. The debate sparked about what is the definition of rape. You saw speakers again and again and again throughout the first two nights really speak to this issue. Our women in Congress speaking to this issue.

And it’s not just that the swing voters, independent women disagree with the Republicans on this issue. But they also disagree that it should even be being discussed. So we had independent women, an independent woman voter in a focus group in Las Vegas for example, who said Rome is burning and these guys are talking about my birth control which I thought was settled in 1960. So there’s a real sense here, what are you doing?

And honestly, from a Democratic perspective, it’s kind of the gift that keeps on getting. If we had met together 18 months ago and one of you had said to me, well Celinda, what about the strategy of let’s go after Planned Parenthood, let’s go after birth control, let’s go after abortion, let’s redefine rape, I would have said you know, you’ve really got to stop drinking when you’re working. That sounds good, but that’s just too far. They’ll never do that. They’ll never go that far. And then they keep doing it. Which also really irritates women. Women are feeling like we keep rejecting this and you keep doing it.

An interesting example is Planned Parenthood, for example. Planned Parenthood, you saw Cecile Richards speak yesterday, the head of Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood, one of the biggest providers of women’s health care services in the country, provide a third of American women have used Planned Parenthood or had a family member who’s used Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood’s favorability right now is ahead of almost every elected official in this country -- Democrat or Republican. So saying you want to do away with Planned Parenthood is not a very winning strategy if you want to get swing women.

The second issue for women voters is the economy. It’s really actually their number one issues. Women are most focused on jobs in the economy but they’re not interested in macroeconomic policies. They’re interested in what we call kitchen table economics. How is this going to affect my family? What difference is this going to make in my life? And this is where we failed in the 2010 election. We lost women on election day by one point for the first time in 47 years, in the 2010 election. So I think that was a very sober warning to the Democrats that we cannot take these independent women for granted. These economically oriented women voters.

Women are also the health care voters in this country. Eighty percent of the people who say that I will vote the health care issue are women voters in this country. Eighty percent of the health care decision-makers in this country are women. In fact an amusing statistic is that there may be many areas where women actually determine what happens in the family or tell men what to do in their lives, but health care is the one area that they admit it. So most men admit that there’s some woman in their life who tells them what to do about health care. Whether it’s when to go to the doctor, what plan we’re going to be on, make sure you fight for the benefits honey, the insurance company’s screwing us. Women are the decision-makers in terms of health care.

Now the health care issue has a lot in it for women, but Affordable Care Act has been a hard sell to women. Women were very risk averse about change. Women saw this as a political issue and they were more focused on it as a consumer issue. But there’s a tremendous amount that can be said to women about the health care issue.

First of all, the coverage of preventive services. The no denial of pre-existing conditions, particularly for children.

It used to be legal in this country for insurance companies to automatically charge women more for the same coverage, and in fact some companies charged as much as 50 percent more. That is illegal now thanks to Affordable Care Act.

Women, prescription drug coverage, preventive coverage, mammograms for free. So there’s a lot in the health care plan that is really popular for women, but that’s something we need to sell. Women are still more likely to volunteer that the National Health Care Reform includes death panels thanks to Sarah Palin, that they are to volunteer that it covers mammograms. And that’s one of the things we have to change.

The third issue for women is education. Education is one of the strongest issues for the President. People really believe this President and Michelle believe in education. You saw Michelle Obama deliver I think a very powerful statement about the difference an education had made. She and her brother being the first in her family to go to college. That is something that’s very very important to women voters.

It’s something that’s become more salient to voters in the last two years because many of the states have cut back on education funding. And so the voters have made this more of a federal issue.

Finally, the last issue that is really appealing to women voters is Medicare and Social Security. Women are more likely to rely on Medicare and Social Security. They are more likely to live longer. They have lower incomes, as you heard. We make 77 cents on the dollar. That means we have 77 cents on the dollar for our retirement funds as well. And Social Security and Medicare are very very big issues for women voters.

Ryan was nominated by the Republicans to energize their side of their base, but actually Ryan was very energizing to our base as well. And it’s interesting, the Republicans have come back and said you cut $720 billion out of Medicare and there’s this fight back and forth about Medicare at the presidential level.

One of the stories that hasn’t been told as much is that this issue of the Ryan budget has moved down into our state and local races as well. And frankly, if the Democrats take back the House it will be because of the Medicare issue. It will be in part fueled by the fact that Ryan was nominated on the Republican side. Because if you think about it, we have been trying for over a year to say well the Ryan budget cuts this, the Ryan budget cuts Medicare. And voters said to us, who the hell is Ryan? I’ve got a neighbor named Ryan but I didn’t know he had a budget. Who’s Ryan?

Now everybody knows who Ryan is. Everybody knows the Ryan budget. So even though it’s kind of a standstill at the presidential level, it’s a huge issue in congressional and senate races and being quite successful for the Democrats.

So a couple of key take-aways. Both conventions have really focused on women voters. Both conventions have used their First Ladies as a very strong spokesperson to women voters. Both conventions are targeting the same woman voter -- the independent 55 year old married mom, white, living in the suburbs. Non-college educated. It’s more the waitress mom than the soccer mom this year who is up for grabs. She’s a late decider. She responds to negative advertising. She thinks nobody understands her life and she doesn’t have a lot of time for politics, so watch for both parties to target her.

The second thing you see is that women are not monolithic. Both parties have their female base, but for the democrats, the big challenge for us is getting out the vote among our women voters. And that is the second emphasis. Firing up those women voters, and we’ve talked about the agenda to do that.

The last thing I will say is you hear the gender gap, the gender gap. Lots of ways to talk about the gender gap, but for us let’s talk about it as the difference between men and women’s voting. So the gap is the difference between a percentage of men for Obama and the percentage of women for Obama.

Men in this country are now about eight to ten points Republican. Women in this country are about eight to ten percent Democratic. So you have embedded then about a 13 to 16 point structural gender gap if people just vote their party identification.

What’s been really interesting is to see what’s happened with married couples. Married couples always in this country used to vote the same way. They now split their tickets in record numbers.

The last piece of data I will give you that I think you’ll find amusing as we did, we asked married men and women, do you always vote the same way as your spouse? Seventy-three percent of men said confidently, yes. I always vote the same way as my spouse. Forty-nine percent of women said yes, I always vote the same way as my spouse.

In this country we call that the “sure, honey” factor. Women are now making up their own minds and getting their own sense of information and voting a lot more Democratic. And we’re trying to get them extra information to split with their husbands.

Let me stop there. I’m glad to take your questions and I can share more information about women voters if you like.

Question: Nadia Chau with the Liberty Times.

After President Clinton’s speech last night do you think he will actually more in appealing to women voters? Is there any poll follow-up to see what is the impact of his speech?

Ms. Lake: Not yet. There hasn’t been any polling follow-up. And one thing I will warn you about as journalists, you will see all these instant polls, these polls done over one night. Don’t believe those polls. They’re very very statistically unreliable.

So we feel like in our company that you have to be in the field about three nights and you have to have a chance to call the person back. Because this country is so mobile, so unlikely to answer the phone, that we’ve got to try you three different times before we’re going to give up on you. So that instant polling is very unreliable, but I haven’t seen any data.

The polling’s just coming out actually about the Republican Convention now as we speak. And the interesting thing about those polls are that they showed that Romney got no bounce off of the convention, which is a little bit surprising, although this is a really late convention for both parties. Usually the conventions are in July. What that meant is the voters were more polarized.

But I also think we can thank Clint Eastwood. I think he really stepped on any of the Republican message. And today in the polls more voters remember Clint Eastwood’s speech than remember Mitt Romney’s speech out of the Republican Convention. That’s a pretty bad failure. Hopefully we won’t have that kind of problem. We’re not allowing any empty chairs on our podium.

It will take a while. It will take a couple of days. And the polls to really look at, I think, will be the polls that will come out next Monday and Tuesday in terms of looking at the bump.

But Bill Clinton is very popular with men and women, and I think Bill Clinton did two things that were very important for women voters last night. And of course Hillary Clinton is extremely popular with women. So just being the representative of that team is already very popular.

But one is, he gave a clear sense of where we’re headed. One of the questions, the single biggest question that male and female voters have about this ticket is where is President Obama headed? What’s his plan? What’s he going to do? People were very unclear about that. I think that Bill Clinton did the first bookend of really laying out a philosophy, and I think Barack Obama will really solidify that in his speech.

The second thing he did is he really put the argument in very very -- He really desegregated the Republican argument. I think he armed a whole bunch of Democrats to go out and talk about that Republican argument. The example I always give, women are the influential. Two-thirds of the people who pass information on in Facebook, for example, are women. But right now the informal political communication is dominated more by crazy Uncle Joe who only listens to Fox and we know we’re right but we don’t know how to say it. Well Bill Clinton just had a tutorial with the entire Democratic party. Okay, we know we’re right, but now we know how to say it. We can quote Bill Clinton too, who voters like. So I think he did a lot of business for the party last night and a lot of business to women voters who really remember those as the last good years that their families had, were the Clinton years.

Question: [Inaudible] from the German Newspaper De Veldt.

I found in your paperwork that most women say they would not vote for a candidate they disagree with on abortion. Could you explain a little bit how women think about abortion? Could you differ between women in urban regions and rural regions?

Ms. Lake: Really good questions.

First of all, the country’s divided on abortion. What’s interesting is that women are not more pro-choice than men in this country, in part because women are more religious than men. But you have two-thirds of women who support Roe v. Wade; two-thirds of women who support Planned Parenthood; two-thirds of women who support insurance companies covering birth control which is a major economic expenditure for women; and 85 percent of women who think it should be illegal for insurance companies to treat being a woman as a pre-existing condition.

So in that sense the Republicans have pushed this issue so far that it’s gained a lot of votes for us beyond just the pro-choice base we could count on.

Women voters think this agenda is going way too far. And frankly, if you don’t believe in abortion, then you ought to believe in the prevention of abortion. It’s only the most radical extremists who say we shouldn’t have birth control. Americans really believe in birth control. And even 90 percent of Catholics in the United States disagree with their church on birth control. And on any given Sunday the majority of the women out in every congregation in America are using birth control independent of what their church is preaching to them. So American Catholics are used to disagreeing with their church on birth control.

I think they’ve gone so extreme that it’s allowed this to be more of an issue.

Traditionally the anti-choice vote, the right to life vote, has been more a single issue than the pro-choice. Pro-choice voters have felt like well, it’s pro-choice and it’s not going anywhere. Now, though, there seems to be more of a threat, so we’re seeing more single issue pro-choice voters. But they’ve gone so far that they’ve made it more of an issue than it was before.

Question: Thomas Gorgishian, [inaudible] Newspaper, Egypt.

My first question is regarding how you define, you said it’s not the soccer mom time, it’s the waitress mom you said.

Ms. Lake: Uh huh.

Question: This is my first question.

My second question, usually I can see that for years now people saying woman vote, woman vote. But I assume women are different whether it’s related to their ethnic background or geography or education. How you make this, I will not say the different rate of shades, whatever.

Ms. Lake: That’s right. The key voter is the waitress mom. She’s the key target voter this year.

Women are not monolithic. You’re right, it differs by education, it differs by age, it differs by ethnicity, it differs by religiosity, it differs by marital status. If you add all of the women up together you still have women voting more Democratic than men. So I think that’s why we talk about the women’s vote.

But you’re right. The way we should be talking about the women’s vote is to talk about which women are we talking about? If we’re taking about married women we’re talking about a more Republican voting. If we’re talking about unmarried women we’re talking about more Democratic voters. So it does differ by all of those factors.

Question: How do you define waitress mom?

Ms. Lake: Sorry. The waitress mom is blue collar, non-college educated, white, independent voter, working outside the home, married, and with children usually, in suburbia.

Question: Thank you, Ben Bangura with [inaudible].com.

Why is abortion so important to women of this country and why this has to be a political football over and over and over?

Ms. Lake: I think there are many people that are asking that, including many women who are asking that. The vast majority of American voters say I’m tired of this debate. We should not be fighting about this. We should not be prioritizing it right now given what’s going on in the country. But for part of the very conservative religious portion of the American electorate, it’s a very very important issue. They disagree very strongly with the current state of laws in the United States. And they were elected in 2010. So whether it’s in state legislatures or in congress or in governorships, they’re pushing this agenda. They dominated the primary process. So Mitt Romney had had a moderate record on abortion, forced by the primary process, his own party’s primary process, to change his position. But many voters are asking exactly the same question you’re asking. Listen, this is settled. We have a law. Let’s leave it. Let’s go on and move on and talk about some other things. Let’s not get bogged down in this. But there are very strong people in views on both sides of this issue who continue to battle it even though the rest of the public says enough, let’s move on.

Question: [Inaudible] with [inaudible] of Mexico.

What percentage of the women electorate would be these waitress moms? What would be the segmentation in that sense?

Second, we have heard for the last few months that this election is the rich against poor, the economy against demography, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So how would you define this election?

Ms. Lake: That is a really good and complicated question.

About 21 percent of the electorate is waitress moms. That’s an easier question to answer.

Of the undecided voters right now, about 60 percent of them are women. Not just the waitress moms, all women. But a good 30 to 40 percent of the undecided voters are the waitress moms.

In terms of what this election is all about, it is a very complicated election, frankly, because you have such a stark contrast in terms of the direction of the country. You have such polarized political parties. You have the first African American President. You have the first Mormon political candidate. So there’s a lot of [fatress] going on here. It’s a very complicated election. There are other elections when you could say it’s income that will determine it, or it’s gender that will determine it or whatever, but this is a complicated one. I don’t think it’s that easy to say one thing will determine it.

It’s also an election that is coming at a time of enormous demographic change in the United States. Take the state of California right now. Eighty percent of the seniors in California are white. Seventy-three percent of the school children in California are children of color. So this country is shifting demographically very very rapidly.

Similarly, in 1980, 18 percent of the births in this country were to single moms. Today 42 percent of the births in this country are to single moms. So there are some very very very dramatic demographic changes taking place in America and that I think also is throwing this up to be very topsy turvy

Ti’s a very bad economy and it’s been a lingeringly bad economy. And it’s coupled, I think America’s still adjusting from the post-9/11 effect. And it’s coupled at a time when -- America is used to thinking about itself as number one. Now America doesn’t think it’s number one anymore. WE just released a study on Monday where a solid majority of Americans think the next Bill Gates will come from some other country than America, and 63 percent of young Americans think the next Bill Gates will come from another country than America.

So this is a very profound time of crisis in our consciousness. Americans are used to not really thinking that much about other people and just thinking about themselves and thinking we’re on top, even when we weren’t. Of thinking of ourselves that way. So it’s a profound time of change on a number of levels in this country. I think it’s one of the more complicated elections because of it.

Question: Why do you think conservatism politics is bad for women?

Ms. Lake: Why do I personally think this?

I was born and raised a Republican, so converts are always clearest in their thinking. But I’m strongly pro-choice. I don’t think it’s anybody else’s decision. I think it should be a woman’s decision. And I came up very influenced by the women’s movement. I’m very angry about women being paid less than men for the same work. I think when you’re a country in trouble as we are we should not be wasting half of our talents. I think our girls deserve the same chance as our boys. And I have a number of experiences in my own history where either I couldn’t do something because I was a woman or I was the first woman to do it. So that profoundly influenced me.

I believe in the -- and I think many women are appealed to by this idea. I think the Republican philosophy is, we can best do it on our own. Bill Clinton said this, the Democratic philosophy is we need to do this together. And I believe we need to do this together.

Now that still means that you have a role in this yourself, but there should be a safety net and there should be an equal start and then you’re on your own. You get to make it or not. I believe there’s a role for government and the Republicans believe in a much-reduced role for government.

Now I run a small business. I don’t want the government to run my small business. I want to run my small business. I took a lot of risk. I Stayed up until midnight. I put my capital in it. I didn’t pay myself for the first year and a half when I started my business. That said, I want the government to help me get fair insurance rates. I want to make sure that the drinking water that’s in my office is safe. That there’s not asbestos in the walls. I want to make sure that if I buy computers for my business that they have to meet certain standards, that I can’t be screwed. I want to be sure that the banks have to lend me certain money.

So I think it’s a partnership and I think that is why I’m personally a Democrat.

Question: Can you give us a sense of, and maybe I missed it, the shift in the women’s vote from 2008 in terms of how much Obama won and how much he might be potentially losing at this point?

Ms. Lake: Oh, yeah. That’s a very interesting question.

We won the women’s vote, and of course we won different groups by different amounts. But in general depending on the exit poll you look at, we won the women’s vote by anywhere from 12 to 13 points.

In 2010 we lost the women’s vote by one point. The first time in 47 years. Now not all the same women shoed up to vote.

Right now coming into the convention most of the polls are showing us with about a six to ten point advantage among women. There is, and many of you may have seen it, this new Washington Post poll that just came out that showed the women eroding. That would be very surprising so I think many of us are waiting to see, and the Washington Post has a very very fine polling operation ,but is that just a deviant poll or is something changing here?

It is certainly true, men tend to make up their minds earlier. And like in 2010, men had made up their minds by January. Women didn’t make up their minds until October. So men make up their minds in this country much much earlier. So the women’s vote will be much more of the back and forth vote. But I would find it incredibly surprising if we were losing the women’s vote right now.

So I would imagine we’ve got about a ten point advantage among women. But I think we’re all waiting to see what these polls show.

Question: Madame, thank you very much.

When you say that this election is complicated, does that mean that you find it very hard to predict the outcome? Or that the outcome can go either way at this time of the campaign?

Ms. Lake: Well, my job is to predict it for Barack Obama. But I still think Barack Obama is likely to win. But I think it’s going to be very close. I think it could go either way. I think the two things that will determine it are, well, three things. Who gets their vote out better? Do we get our vote out better or do they get their vote out better? Where do those independent women go? Do they split down the middle? Do they lean Republican? In 2010 we were ahead among women by nine points in September; by October it was five points; November 1, we lose them by one point. So there can be a lot of back and forth in this next 60 days.

The other thing is what are the economic numbers going to be like? And I think it’s very nerve racking. What are the September and October numbers going to be like?

One of the things I think many of us are concerned about is people are shifting in their concern from jobs to what jobs pay. And prices are going up pretty fast in the country right now. Gasoline, we had record high gas prices on Labor Day. Food prices are also going up very rapidly. Well gas prices are the number one price that men pay attention to; food prices are the number one price that women pay attention to. So having gas and food prices go up high in September/October, is not a good thing for the Democrats.

So I think there’s still an economic uncertainty issue here that is concerning.

Question: [Inaudible] Nationale.

In terms of volunteer, do you think you’re going to be able to collect more people this time than 2008?

Ms. Lake: In terms of turnout?

Question: No, volunteer that working for the campaign, mobilizing people, knocking the door.

Ms. Lake: A really good question. I’m honestly not an expert on that question. I would think probably somewhat less, but still lots and lots.

This administration is very very grass roots oriented. We have 90 offices in Colorado. We have 78 offices in Florida. This is a very grass roots oriented team. So I think we’ll have lots and lots of volunteers.

I think that’s one of the pluses of this convention, honestly. I think Democrats came in here solidly behind the President but feeling damn, crazy Uncle Joe is on my case all the time about how Barack Obama’s been a bad President. Now I think we’re going out fired up and ready to go and work that extra mile, and I think we understand that the stakes are high. But I think we also feel self-confident. It’s like James Carville said, we’re right, they’re wrong, let’s go. I think this has really served to energize people.

Question: I’m Naguita [inaudible], Rome.

I was wondering, as far as you know do the speeches of the First Ladies have any influence on women’s vote? Do the First Ladies influence women?

Ms. Lake: Yes, they do influence women. They influence women in a couple of ways.

First of all, women are very interested in them. Women pay a lot more attention to the First Ladies. They’re very interested -- the personal is political for them.

Secondly, they think it is a real window on the person. They think they themselves understand their partners and their spouses better than anybody else. They know the special perspective that that brings in terms of the character of the man. And ultimately, character determines more presidential elections than issues do. So a very very important prism.

These two First Ladies or potential First Ladies are popular. Ann Romney is not as well-known as Michelle Obama, but she’s very popular. If people know her, they like her. So they’re interested in hearing what they have to say.

And women just remember what women have to say more. And they also think that women will be more in touch with their lives.

When Michelle Obama says, and I think it is very authentic to them, my most important job is still mom-in-chief. There are a lot of moms out there that nod their heads. Yes, that’s my most important job too. That sense of shared values is very very important. And I think many many people feel, admire a mom who raised five sons, and five successful sons. That’s something to be admired in this culture.

Question: As you know, we are foreign press so we are following whatever is written on the election and the campaign. It seems to me that the emphasis is put more on this likeability factor of Barack Obama because Barack Obama is doing much much better than Romney. Then when it comes to who is best suited and best qualified to deal with the economy, it’s Romney.

On the other hand, they keep saying the economy is going to be the major factor to decide the outcome of the election. How can we outweigh this, weigh between the importance of the likeability factor and who is best suited to deal with the economy?

Ms. Lake: It’s a real tug of war and it’s a real tug of war for women. Because likeability is more important to women than men. Male voters say they will vote for someone they dislike because they think he can do the job. Women voters hesitate to vote for someone they dislike if they can do the job.

Part of Barack Obama’s strength and likeability isn’t just because he’s a nice guy and a good husband. It’s because people think he’s more in touch with their lives than Mitt Romney is.

So being for the middle class, whose values do you share? That is contributing to Barack Obama’s likeability. So it’s really a struggle. One guy gets my life. He’s in touch, he shares my values. The other guy gets the job done, but who’s he going to do it for? And so people are asking okay, this guy gets my life, but can he get it done? Just being nice isn’t going to hack right now. But shoot, if Romney gets it done but he gets it done for all Bain Corporation execs and lays off all the more Americans, that’s not going to be very helpful to my family.

So it’s a real struggle. I think both sides are trying to answer that question. The Republican Convention was trying to answer the question to women. He does get it. He has been decent to people. He’s not just a cold executive. Here’s the Mitt Romney I know, said Ann Romney. And the family whose son he had helped, et cetera.

The flip side is, I think that our convention we’re trying to say there’s a real choice here. These guys, he can get it done, but he’s going to get a lot of bad stuff done. You don’t want that. Doing away with Roe v. Wade is not getting it done. Keeping a tax credit to ship jobs overseas is not getting it done. $5 trillion in additional tax cuts for the wealthy as if they needed any more is yeah, he’ll get it done all right, but where does that leave you?

So our job was to say hey, hold up a minute. What do you think he’s going to get done? Is that going to help your family? And to answer the question, what we were going to get done.

So I think each convention had a different goal and a different challenge in this equation. I think you summarized the equation quite well.

Question: You mentioned a few times besides the waitress mom the expression Uncle Joe. But it seems that Uncle Joe has decided and the [mom] is undecided. What other factors, what other characters or names are there in the seam of the political scene, let’s say among African Americans, about youth?

The other factor is, as somebody who’s working with polls, I think it’s coming to the point that in the old days they were saying statistics are lies with numbers. Too many polls and too many as a matter of fact used by it. How do you see it can be [inaudible], if there is possibility?

Ms. Lake: It’s a really good question. Let me take your second one because it’s easier to answer than your first.

There are two tips I would give you in terms of polls. I think first of all look at the methodology in polls. There are a lot of bad polls being done in this country. And you want to look at, as we were talking, not an instant poll. Overnight polls, that’s not a good poll. Were voters called or was it everybody? Is it representative of all voters? Were they called over several days? Did they include cell phones. A huge proportion of America now you can’t reach if you’re not calling cell phones. Can I see the wording of the question? I would never report on any poll where they didn’t show you the question wording because the question wording can really bias results.

So these are some basic rules.

I also think as a quick guide, and we use this ourselves. There are several services, is one of them, there are several, RealPolitics, that summarize all of the polls. They average them. That’s what you should really look at. And any poll done by Lake Research Partners. But I would look at those averages. That’s what will really guide you about what’s going on. That’s what we use to look at it. That’s why I say, as good as they are, and I think they’re a very reputable poll, I think many of us are waiting to get a couple more polls out besides the Washington Post poll to see is there a pattern here or was this just one fluke?

The first question is hard to say. We develop a couple of these names to try to make this more accessible to regular voters and to our audiences. So I think a couple of other voters. The waitress mom, 20 year old kid. She fought like heck to get that kid through college. Now he’s come out of college, he can’t get a job, he’s got record debt, he’s back home. Fifty-four percent of young people were home during this last recession. I think the waitress mom’s kid is going to be a key vote too.

He’ll vote Democratic if he votes, but is he going to show up to vote? That is the Democratic party’s challenge.

Another key voter would be the religious voter. Romney is a Mormon. Many born again Christians have problems with Mormons. The Republicans have been pretty united. He’s a moderate Mormon. The Republicans have been pretty united by their dislike of Barack Obama, but Romney keeps having to pull his coalition together. We don’t have to do that particularly. You didn’t see us having to pull a bunch of people out there and say, pick a nominee or anything to try to coalesce the base. Our base is there. The question for us is will our base show up to vote, not are they united? Their base is united, is going to show up to vote but the question is are they united. So different challenges in the two parties. And where that religious voter goes, that born again Christian religious voter, the person driving around with the station wagon and the fish symbol on the back, is that woman going to show up -- Is she going to vote for Romney or is she going to skip it? She’ll vote, but she might skip the presidential. So these are questions. She’s another one, I would say.

Then senior voters. The waitress mom’s mom. Retired woman, scared to death of what’s happening to her Social Security and Medicare. In the end is she more afraid of Ryan or more afraid of Obama? That’s the big question.

Those are some of the key voters.

Question: One follow-up on what you said about Mormon faith and the Christians. If you guys were able to elect an African American President, what’s wrong with you electing a Mormon President?

Ms. Lake: I have no problem electing a Mormon President. You haven’t heard a single speaker refer to Candidate Romney’s religion. In fact our party would be very against that. We don’t think that you should be judged.

Now the Mormon church has a bunch of beliefs that most Democrats disagree with. They are anti-choice and we are not. They do not believe in marriage equality, we do. For a long time, it was very recent that they would allow African Americans to be part of their church. That is an abomination to us. They have sects in other countries who believe in polygamy. We do not.

There are lots of things where most Democrats disagree with the philosophy of the Mormon church, but I think we all agree it would be absolutely wrong to base our choice on religion.

What we will do, though, is base our choice on the issues, positions of Mitt Romney, and it is fair to ask him what is his position on some of these issues. He has said, for example, I’m completely against polygamy. Period. End of question. He has also said that he, well, he has become more anti-choice now. He used to be a moderate on the issue. So these are fair questions to ask. But we have no problem electing a Mormon President.

Question: A variation of the same subject. In the last few days we have heard about the deficit of enthusiasm among Democratic voters, and those who have heard that probably the winner might be the one that is able to scare more voters about what the other guy will do. You are telling us now that the Democrats who came to this convention are already fired up and ready to go. So will this be enough to overcome that deficit of enthusiasm? Or will you, and the Republicans by the way, keep scaring the electorate, convince them to go vote?

Ms. Lake: Two things. I think both of our parties will hit the ground running and think that a lot of what will get our vote out is not scaring anybody, but organization. Making sure our voters are registered. Going door to door. Getting them to vote early. So both parties will emphasize that and have aggressive, aggressive get out the vote operations.

In terms of scaring them, I think it’s sincere, obviously. I’m terrified of President Romney. Is anybody from the Canadian press here? I’d really like to come up for a sabbatical if we have President Romney. I think the prospect of President Romney is terrifying. I think it will change America forever.

So I think the partisans in both parties are very sincere. I don’t think they’re just doing it for symbolism. I think it’s terrifying to have a President in there who says I’m going to do away with Planned Parenthood. I think it’s terrifying to have a President in there who says I’m going to repeal health care reform, and let that little four year old girl that we saw in there from the Arizona family, hit her lifetime cap at four years old? I don’t want to live in that America. I think that America is frightening.

I want to end the tax credit for jobs overseas. I am furious that it still exists. Why would we give anybody a tax break to do it? You want to go send your jobs overseas, okay, I can’t do anything about that. How about giving a tax break for me who creates a job in the United States?

I think those beliefs honestly by both sets of parties are very sincerely felt. I don’t think it’s meant to be manipulative.

Now whether they’re right or they exaggerate in their own minds, but I think the -- And it’s part of the polarization. I think that the sincere disagreement that the partisans of both parties have with the nominee of the other party is very sincerely felt.

Thank you. This was fun.

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