Celinda Lake

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Celinda Lake is a pollster and political strategist for the Democratic Party. Lake has worked as a pollster for Democratic politicians, including Presidents Joe Biden and Bill Clinton, former U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano. 1 Lake and her firm, Lake Research Partners, also conduct polling and research for a variety of left-of-center organizations, such as the AFL-CIO, SEIU, EMILY’s List, Planned Parenthood, the Democratic National Committee, Sierra Club, and the Human Rights Campaign. 2

Lake’s research and writing focuses special attention on women candidates and women’s political issues. She co-authored a book in 2005, What Women Really Want, with Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway. 3

Personal Background

Celinda Lake attended Smith College as an undergraduate and earned her master’s degree in political science and survey research from the University of Michigan. She also received a certificate in political science from the University of Geneva. 4

Her earlier experience includes serving as political director of the Women’s Campaign Fund, as the research director at the Institute for Social Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and as a policy analyst for the Subcommittee on Select Education. 5


Lake started Lake Research Partners in 1992 following her work on the Clinton-Gore campaign. 6 Lake Research Partners touts its record of having turned down prospective clients who were not sufficiently progressive, promising to work “only for pro-choice, labor-friendly candidates.” 7

Lake prides herself on activist polling for the purpose of influencing key left-progressive policy outcomes, with her official biography on her website boasting that she “polled in California to beat parental notification initiatives three times in a row” and “helped with successful minimum wage campaigns in five states.” 8

Lake’s activist polling techniques have been criticized for “trying to manipulate” respondents for “political purposes,” including by posing leading questions that play on voters’ lack of knowledge of certain issues. 9

Lake seeks to sway voters by advocating for Democratic politicians to use more effective, poll-tested language to describe political issues. For example, she supports the use of the term “religious political extremists” to describe Christian conservatives as opposed to “religious right.” 10

After the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Lake decried Kavanaugh as “a far-right partisan” and rallied Democrats to “channel our fury” into the 2018 midterm elections. 11

In April 2020, Lake told reporters that Democrats should use the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to define their economic agenda and defeat President Donald Trump, saying of the crisis, “we should be leaning into this.” 12

Lake has advocated for the Green New Deal, calling it a “fantastic idea” and “the secret, or one of the secrets, to winning 2020.” 13


  1. “Our people: Celinda Lake.” Accessed March 29, 2021.
  2. Biography: Celinda Lake.” Women’s Media Center. Accessed March 29, 2021.
  3. “Celinda Lake.” Accessed March 29, 2021.
  4. Biography: Celinda Lake.” Women’s Media Center. Accessed March 29, 2021.
  5. “Bio: Celinda Lake.” The George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management. Accessed March 29, 2021.
  6. “Profile of Celinda Lake.” Accessed March 29, 2021.
  7. “Progressive Leadership.” Accessed March 29, 2021.
  8. “Our people: Celinda Lake.” Accessed March 29, 2021.
  9. Walter, Scott. “Lies, damned lies, and polls.” Philanthropy Daily. October 7, 2014. Accessed March 29, 2021.
  10. “Celinda Lake.” Accessed March 29, 2021.
  11. Lake, Celinda. “We Must Channel Our Fury Over Kavanaugh Before Election Day.” The Nation. October 17, 2018. Accessed March 29, 2021.
  12. Siders, David. “Dems find a rallying cry: Trump tanked the economy.” Politico. April 6, 2020. Accessed March 29, 2021.
  13. Colman, Zach. “Question for Democrats: What is a ‘Green New Deal’?” Politico. January 12, 2019. Accessed March 29, 2021.

Connected Organizations

  1. Democracy Alliance Conferences (Other Group)
    Participant, Fall 2016
  2. Lake Research Partners (For-profit)
  3. Our Story Hub (Non-profit)
    Advisory Board Member
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