New Pew Survey Shows Record-High GOP Enthusiasm
A new survey from the Pew Research Center shows record high enthusiasm among Republicans:
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Fully 56% of Republican voters say they are more enthusiastic about voting this year than in previous elections – the highest percentage of GOP voters expressing increased enthusiasm about voting in midterms dating back to 1994. While enthusiasm among Democratic voters overall is on par with levels in 2006, fewer liberal Democrats say they are more enthusiastic about voting than did so four years ago (52% then, 37% today).
The Republican Party now holds about the same advantage in enthusiasm among its party’s voters that the Democratic Party held in June 2006 and the GOP had late in the 1994 campaign. Moreover, more Republicans than Democrats are now paying close attention to election news (64% vs. 50%). At this stage in previous midterms, news attentiveness was about the same for voters in both parties.
These are the most important numbers to look at when trying to divine the outcome of a midterm election cycle. By and large, midterm elections are turnout games; the party that can best mobilize its base in the largest number of competitive states and districts is most likely to gain. And the economy notwithstanding, enthusiasm is the most serious problem facing Democrats as they head into the midterms. Indeed, between high unemployment, congressional gridlock and the fact that Democrats already hold the majority, there simply isn’t much Democrats can do to motivate their core voters.
By contrast, Republicans have the twin advantage of minority status, a well-defined target (health care reform, for instance) and an older base with the time and resources to vote. What’s more, Republicans are taking moves to encourage that enthusiasm. Just yesterday, 66 GOP representatives agreed to support a measure to repeal health care reform, putting them in line with the 79 percent of Republicans who think health care reform is a bad idea, and giving them a reason to vote in November.
I’ve long cautioned against ambitious predictions for this year’s elections — Democrats have always been in a position to hold their House and Senate majorities — but as Republicans become more and more enthusiastic about voting, I’m gradually coming around to the view that the House might be Democrats’ to lose. Of course, a lot can happen in four months, but if further economic growth proves elusive, and GOP enthusiasm remains high, Democrats should begin preparing themselves for a November bloodbath.