With GOP Enthusiasm Sky-High, Democrats Seek to Bring Back New Obama Voters
This isn’t a surprise, but it’s worth noting that Republicans are still far more enthusiastic about this year’s election than Democrats. In the most recent poll from Gallup, 59 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are enthusiastic about voting this year, versus 44 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. Of course, Democrats still have a registration advantage, and thanks to Organizing for America, Democrats have held onto a portion of the Obama campaign’s grassroots operation. Which is to say, if Democrats are looking to close or overcome the enthusiasm gap with Republicans, their only hope lies with mobilizing the new voters who turned out in droves for Obama. And to that end, Democrats are investing a hefty sum in reviving as much of the Obama network as possible:
As political gambles go, it’s a big and risky one: $50 million to test the proposition that the Democratic Party‘s outreach to new voters that helped make Barack Obama president can work in an election where his name is not on the ballot.
The standard rule of midterm elections is that only the most reliable voters show up at the polls, so both parties have traditionally focused on the unglamorous and conventional work that turns out their bases. But this year, the Democrats are doubling down on registering and motivating newer voters — especially the 15 million heavily minority and young, who made it to the polls for the first time in the last presidential election.
That said, not all Democrats are on board with the idea:
Some veteran Democratic Party operatives are also skeptical that the $50 million investment will pay off — except, perhaps, in keeping the grassroots operation alive for Obama’s reelection bid two years from now. Some even suggest that the president’s team has put his long-term interests ahead of his party’s immediate struggle for survival.
“I have zero confidence that they’re heading in the right direction here,” says one longtime Democratic organizer who didn’t want to be quoted by name criticizing his party’s major midterm election initiative. Added another: “I think they’re going to come in for a very rude awakening. It’s going to be brutal.”
You can count me among the skeptics; I’m just not sure how much the party and OFA can do to mobilize enough young voters and minorities to reduce the enthusiasm gap with Republicans. I’m not convinced that this is a self-interested move to keep the 2008 grassroots operation alive for Obama’s re-election, but even if it were, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, even if Democrats survive November with their majorities intact, they can all but kiss governing goodbye. Not only will Democrats possess smaller majorities (possibly razor-thin), but they’ll be faced with a GOP that is confident, reinvigorated and more than prepared to turn the outrage and obstructionism up to 11. If the goal for Democrats this year is to walk away from the midterms with something, then a grassroots primed to re-elect Obama in 2012 isn’t something to dismiss.