There's been plenty of bad news for Barack Obama this month in the form of his approval numbers, but our polling finds that his problems go deeper than that. Democratic enthusiasm about voting in next year's election has hit a record low this month.
Only 48% of Democrats on our most recent national survey said they were 'very excited' about voting in 2012. On the survey before that the figure was 49%. Those last two polls are the only times all year the 'very excited' number has dipped below 50%.
In 13 polls before August the average level of Democrats 'very excited' about voting next year had averaged 57%. It had been as high as 65% and only twice had the number even dipped below 55%.
It had seemed earlier in the year like Democrats had overcome the 'enthusiasm gap' that caused so much of their trouble in last year's elections. But now 54% of Republicans say they're 'very excited' about casting their ballots next year, indicating that the problem may be back.
The debt deal really does appear to have demoralized the base, and the weird thing about it is that this is one issue where if Obama had done what folks on the left wanted him to do, he also would have had the support of independents. The deal has proven to be a complete flop in swing states where we've polled it like Colorado, North Carolina, and Ohio. And in every single one of those states a majority of voters overall, as well as a majority of independents, think new taxes are going to be needed to solve the deficit problem.
In Colorado it's 59/31 overall and 55/33 with independents for more taxes. In North Carolina it's 53/32 overall and 56/31 with independents for more taxes. And in Ohio it's 54/37 overall and 55/37 with independents for more taxes. It's obviously not like these voters want more taxes- no one does. But they do see them as necessary and Obama antagonized his base with the deal he cut on this issue without doing anything to help himself with independents or Republicans.
It's a long way until November 2012 and Obama certainly has time to redeem himself but for the first time in his Presidency I really do think he has an issue with the Democratic base.