Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Goodbye Enthusiasm Gap

If I had to name the two biggest factors that cost Democrats the 2010 election cycle it would be 2 e's- economy and enthusiasm. A huge part of the party's problem was the bad economy, which drove independent voters strongly toward GOP candidates. But just as important was the enthusiasm gap and the fact that Republicans turned out at a much higher rate than Democrats in almost every state in the country.

I don't know where the economy's going to be 22 months from now but our newest weekly national survey for Daily Kos finds that the enthusiasm problem for Democrats is likely to be quickly a thing of the past.

85% of Democrats in the country are either 'very excited' or 'somewhat excited' about voting in the Presidential election next year, actually slightly higher than the 82% of Republicans. There are more Republicans who are 'very excited'- 62% to the Democrats' 57%, but 'somewhat excited' voters are going to come out the vast majority of the time. The ones you need to worry about are the 'not excited' voters- and 18% of Republicans and 16% of Democrats fall into that category, virtually indistinguishable.

Digging deeper the single group with the highest percentage of voters who are 'very excited' about turning out next year is African Americans at 71%. Anyone who thinks black voters aren't going to match their record turnout from 2008 and cast more than 90% of their votes for the President is kidding themselves. They may not have been excited enough about the Dan Onoratos and Brad Ellsworths and Jon Corzines of the world to turn out in 2009 and 2010 but that says nothing about their eagerness to come out with Obama back on the top of the ticket.

Another big turnout issue for Democrats last year was that the percentage of voters under 30 collapsed while the share over 65 collapsed. That also doesn't look like it will be a problem next year- the 54% of young people 'very excited' about voting next year is exactly the same as the portion of senior citizens who express that sentiment.

Republicans are going to have to find some votes elsewhere to match their 2010 victory because their enthusiasm advantage appears to have been a one cycle phenomenon.


Anonymous said...

Wrap it up, Republicans. The election that's two years away is in the bag for the Democrats.

NRH said...

There are certainly going to be quite a few seats that switch back; Republican pickups in Pennsylvania, New York, and Illinois had a lot to do with a historic turnout imbalance rather than any change in preferences at the district level. In a presidential year, in today's increasingly polarized political climate, there just aren't going to be so many places that vote for one party for president and the other for lower offices.

The Republican gains in the South are probably more or less permanent; those Blue Dogs who got kicked out aren't going to be able to get back into most of those seats. But the Republican seats in the mid-Atlantic, midwest, and northeast are highly vulnerable. All of them? Of course not. But anything that was going to swing swung in 2008 or 2010, one way or another; any seats that Republicans picked up in 2010 can go right back over.

Especially if the Republicans govern on the same insanities they campaigned on. No matter how much they try to continue being the Party of No, they can't avoid having to actually govern now, and that has observable results, not like their empty posturing from the minority.

Smooth Jazz said...

Oh wonderful, Isn't that just grand: Another anti Palin poll from your unbiased pollsters at DailyKOS. Terrific. Of course, "any" poll you take will suggest Palin hurt herself. Your viability depends on pumping out anti Palin, indeed anti Repub, polls.

Your benefactor was blaming her from the get go for the Tucson tragedy and you have an audience to appease. Let's all hold hands in the Wash DC/New York Liberal echo chamber and shout "Kumbaya". Oh, that felt so good.

Anonymous said...

The GOP learned nothing after its losses in 2006 and 2008 except to be more ruthless, devious, strident, and doctrinaire.

The usual pattern of a failure is :

Fail. Learn nothing. Try again. Fail again.

Unknown said...

In July 2008 ABC/WaPo and CBS did polls finding that over 51-54% of Obama voters were very enthusiastic to vote for him, while only 16-17% of McCain voters were very enthusiastic about voting for him. In September 2008 Gallup found that 61% of Democrats/leaners were more excited than normal, while only 42% of Republicans/leaners were.

Generic congressional ballots in 2007 and 2008 almost always gave the Democratic Party a double digit lead.

In 2009-2010, Republicans had an enthusiasm gap, but never as large as the Democrats did in 2008. Only Rasmussen had Republicans with a lead in the generic ballot in 2009. As late as September 2010, PPP had the Democrats ahead on the generic ballot.

The Democrats will need to dramatically increase their enthusiasm gap in 2012 to have this one in the bag. If 85% of Democrats are somewhat or very excited, there isn't a lot of growth there.

Despite being three times as enthusiastic about their candidate they only won by 7 points. So Democrats will have to work really really hard to get Republicans to be as unexcited as they were in 2008. If the two parties are equally as enthusiastic the election isn't "in the bag."

NRH said...

The election doesn't need to have the same national enthusiasm gap to produce similar results. Sure, Indiana probably isn't going to be blue again, but Indiana didn't exactly represent electoral vote 270, either. In the last election, that was Colorado, where Obama won by 8.95% (counting from largest margin of victory down, adding up electoral votes). Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Indiana, North Carolina, and the Nebraska vote were surplus. With the shift in electoral votes from redistricting, Virginia (Obama +6.3%) represents the 270th electoral vote. So for a Republican to win, they have to shift the national vote about 6.3% their way relative to McCain. That's about 9 million no-vote Republicans - which is a tough one to make happen, given that Republicans tend to be more prone to voting regularly.

The district-level results are much more meaningful. Just as the McCain Democrat seats (where McCain won a district, but so did a Democrat) were most vulnerable to swinging in 2010, the 2008 Obama / 2010 Republican seats are going to be vulnerable in 2012.

Jonny V said...

If Obama ends up being the GOP nominee I think you'll see that Democratic enthusiasm jump to over 90% ... even Dems who aren't crazy about Obama are going to get out there and vote if Palin is the GOP nominee.

The idea of a President Palin is extremely frightening to all intelligent people.

PTPeace said...

Great analysis NRH. I wish it was in the bag, Anonymous, but what we are seeing at the campaign level is a trickle-down of Rove politics: lies and smears. In Minnesota, the Gov went Dem, but at the Legislative level, the Koch groups funded really nasty ads and postcards. Think, a picture of your representative running away with his arms full of cash, or his hands in your pocket snatching your wallet. They will stoop at nothing. Independents, you gotta love 'em, but they can be a little bit emotional -- not looking at the actual record of a Rep, but just relying on murky campaign literature. Republican operatives also made sure that they made a big deal about voter fraud, trying to shake people's confidence in the system and raise the level of fear. Luckily in MN, we're as squeaky clean as you can get, they don't get far with that one. But check it out, if you are on their mailing lists or email lists, look at the low-life stuff they put out. Lies and smears, and the person in office can't recover because no exact accusation has been made, they make sure not to accuse anything, just besmirch the character of the Rep.

Anonymous said...

"...the 2008 Obama / 2010 Republican seats are going to be vulnerable in 2012."

That's true, but there are a limited number of those. See http://www.cookpolitical.com/node/10464 (which says that there are twenty-one). In particular, there are few Republicans holding very Democratic seats.

Also, given the way that redistricting works, there may be fewer in 2012. For example, Ohio's state government went red. This allows them to do things like throw part of Cincinnati into Jean Schmidt's district while extending Chabot's district further into the eastern suburbs.

In Pennsylvania, they can move Scranton into Holden's district. They can give Schwartz the Democratic parts of Montgomery county that they were dumping in the neighboring Republican districts. Since Holden and Schwartz are expanding, they can give some of their Republican areas to Dent and Fitzgerald. Redistrict Altmire back into Doyle's district (where it was prior to the last census). Move Mercer county out of the 3rd district and add some of the ultra-Republican areas instead (like Elk county).

Republicans will be quite vulnerable in Illinois, as Democrats control the state government. New York Republicans are vulnerable but mostly just took back the seats they had prior to 2006. Republicans could struggle in Florida, as the new law may force out some of the existing gerrymanders (depends on interpretation).

In California though, Republicans could gain for the same reason. North Carolina is heavily gerrymandered and should improve for Republicans. Their existing seats are likely to become safe while new seats will become competitive.

MN said...

That would be quite a tricky Johnny V...

To NRH: The latest data I've seen suggest that correlating presidential and district voting is about 60%. It's definitely the best single indicator we have.

Anonymous said...

Because I am a person of a "certain" age, I tend to have a longer view. What the data suggest to me is that we are going into a period where the country goes forward two steps in presidential election years and one step backwards midterm election years. At the moment, the old white vote turns out for midterm elections and whole country turns out for presidential elections. If you are interested in the trajectory, consider today's twenty-somethings in twenty years. This has the right scared as hell. There is simply no future for the old white folk vote as it will naturally diminish with each passing year. Polling shows even twenty-somethings in pro-slave states have largely abandoned bigotry. This does not bode well for the GOP.

BruceMcF said...

Smooth Jazz, could you pretty please do all you can to make sure that Ex-1/2-Gov Palin is the Republican nominee? kthxbai

Jonny V said...

ha! I meant if Palin ends up being the GOP nominee (not Obama) ... I think the rest of my post made that clear anyway... but for anyone who was confused by that ... just a typo.

honestly I'm starting to think there's no real shot of Palin as the GOP nominee so I should probably stop dreaming about it...

it would just be so beautiful to see her lead the Republicans to their worst defeat ever.

Matthew J Holden said...

Seriously? Young people are as likely to vote as seniors and we're still 18 months from the election?
Team Obama must be doing cart-wheels at campaign headquarters.

Anonymous said...

This may be why Republican legislators in several states are busy enacting, or attempting to enact, bills that will make it more difficult for the constituencies mentioned in the article to vote...or to have their vote counted. Republicans are may not be able to bring large enough numbers to the ballot, but they may be able to prevent enough voters from voting to maintain an advantage.

Anonymous said...

Are Republicans smart enough to nominate Cain to help split the black vote for a chance to elect a true black President rather than a partially black one?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, wrap it up, my as* Obama is at 40% approval, unemployment is over 9% still, and he just presided over a downgrade of our credit rating.

I just love reading comments that were made months ago. It is so easy to laugh at those claiming a man with approval ratings in the very low 40s has an election "in the bag".

Web Statistics