Thursday, August 12, 2010

Going Inside the Enthusiasm Gap

There's been a ton of ink devoted this week to the motivation level of liberal Democrats and whether they're going to want to vote this year but our numbers suggest the party's real concern should be getting its moderate voters out to the polls.

On our national poll this week 58% of voters are 'very excited' about turning out this year while 15% say they are 'not very excited' for a spread of +43. Liberal Democrats actually exceed the average enthusiasm numbers with 65% 'very excited' and only 12% 'not very excited' for a +53. But moderate Democrats are near the bottom of interest in this year's races with only 43% 'very excited' and an identical 12% 'not very excited' for a +31 spread. Moderate Democrats don't get nearly as much attention but whether they decide to vote or not may end up being the most important factor in the party's fate this fall.

Also worrisome for Democrats is that the least engaged of all party/ideology groups is moderate independents, 47% of whom are 'very excited' and 23% of whom are 'not very excited.' For the most part conservative independents vote Republican and moderate independents vote Democratic so a big reason for the GOP's consistent strong polling with indys this year may be that the conservative ones are coming out and the moderate ones aren't. Conservative independents slightly exceed national enthusiasm numbers with 62% 'very excited' and 17% 'not very excited' for a +45 spread.

Moderate Democrats and independents may not get the cable tv attention of the liberals but their indifference is a greater threat to the party at the polls in November.

Here are the full enthusiasm numbers:


Very Excited

Not Very Excited


Conservative Republicans




Conservative Democrats




Liberal Democrats




Conservative Independents




All Voters




Moderate Republicans




Moderate Democrats




Moderate Independents





Spandan Chakrabarti said...

Thanks for the numbers. But did you poll only for "very excited" and "not very excited"? What about the other levels of enthusiasm. Shouldn't it be at least 5 categories: very excited, excited, neutral not very excited, not at all excited?

Dustin Ingalls said...

Check our full results for that question, which are linked in the post on gay marriage.

We always poll the following categories: very excited, somewhat excited, not very excited, and not sure.

Spandan Chakrabarti said...

Yup, saw it. Thanks, Dustin. Did have a comment about the specific sample on that poll though (unrelated to the enthusiasm question), which I posted (well it's awaiting approval) over there.

Anonymous said...


Total voter turnout in Michigan's primaries on 8/3/10 was 1,572,774. Of that, 1,045,335 were Republican, while 527,435 were Democrat; representing an R/D ratio of 1.98. The R/D ratio in 2008 was 0.88, 1.09 in 2006 and 0.53 in 2002. Michigan is clearly a "blue" state, with an advantage in voter registration, favoring the Democratic Party by 9.12%. It's sitting Governor and both Senators are Democrat. Obama took Michigan in 2008 with 57% of the vote. And yet, Republican voters turned out in numbers DOUBLING that of the Democratic voters. Incredible! Similar results in Missouri were recorded with an R/D ratio of 1.83 and in Kansas with an R/D ratio of 3.93. I've yet to see the voter turnout numbers for Tennessee, Colorado, Minnesota, Connecticut and Georgia, but I suspect that they will be more of the same.

Gallup on 8/2 reported that 44% of likely Republican voters were "very enthusiastic" about voting in November, while only 22% of the likely Democratic voters felt the same. DOUBLE? That, by the way, represented a gap, significantly larger than any other ever recorded by Gallup. Pew Research on 7/1 came to the same "ever recorded" conclusion.

Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight, in his April 7th assessment of the "enthusiasm gap", concluded that a gap of 12% (as it was THEN) amounted to a 6.6% to 14.2% advantage for the generic Republican candidate in November.

Need I say more? I think not!

NRH said...

Primaries are hardly useful indicators of enthusiasm, particularly when one party has multiple major primary races and the other party has settled on its standard-bearers. Almost every single congressional race had a Republican primary, but only a handful of congressional races had more than one Democrat on the ballot. Similarly, the Republican gubernatorial primary had several significant options, while the Democratic gubernatorial primary was generally uninvolved. Similarly, in Colorado there was a top-ticket race between Maes and McInnis drawing Republican interest, and a strong contrast between Norton and Buck, while the Democratic Senate race was much less of a display of philosophical differences.

When one party has top-ticket races between candidates who each have strong backing and who have distinct ideological differences, voters are interested in the primary and show up. When there is an incumbent, a single candidate with a massive lead, an empty slot, or a low-key race, voters are not interested and don't show up. It's not rocket science.

Anonymous said...

You are so very right when you say that it's not "rocket science". But it is, I might add, a little bit of common sense; of which you apparently have little of. Let me explain. The overall theme of my "argument" in my previous post was to provide a sufficient amount of numerical data, as well as pertinent information, relative to the matter of voter enthusiasm and the impact that it will ultimately have on this year's elections. What I included or didn't include in that post was for the most part, a matter of what information I had or that to which was made available to me at the time. I provided data relating to the primary elections in Michigan, Missouri and Kansas, only because I readily had that particular information at hand. As for Colorado and several other states that were mentioned, I didn't consider, as particularly important, elaborating on the specifics of their primaries - only because I thought that my point had already been made. Your apparent fixation on Colorado ALONE, with seemingly no regard for anything else, including the main theme of my "argument", suggests to me that you are seriously lacking in the ability to see or understand the "big picture" concept, relative (in this case) to the issue(s) at hand.
I guess I had better close for now, as I don't want to "say" anything (further) that I might later regret. Bye, bye now!

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