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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 06:12 PM ET, 08/28/2008

The Enthusiasm Gap: Filling the Stands

When Barack Obama's campaign announced that he would deliver his acceptance speech at Invesco Field at Mile High, tickets for the event were completely snapped up by supporters a mere 24 hours after they were made available. John McCain's marquee event this week, his Friday appearance in Dayton, Ohio which is widely expected to be the first event of his weekend-long vice presidential rollout, isn't quite as highly in demand.

The Dayton Daily News reports (hat tip: Political Wire) tickets for McCain's event, expected to be held in front of 10,000 supporters at the Nutter Center at Wright State University, were still available this morning. Tickets were first made available last Friday. The disparity highlights a notable trend in polling on the presidential campaign: Obama's backers are far more enthusiastic than are McCain's.

The new Washington Post-ABC News poll released this week found a continuing enthusiasm gap: a majority of Obama supporters reported feeling very enthusiastic about his candidacy while fewer than three in 10 McCain supporters said the same about their preferred candidate's bid.

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Thinking about his candidacy for president so far, how enthusiastic are you about... (Among each candidate's supporters)

Barack Obama

John McCain

The gap has been a fixture of the campaign thus far, and the current 20-plus point gap reflects a narrowing since June, when 19 percent of McCain's supporters were very enthusiastic about his bid compared with 52 percent of Obama's backers.

But should McCain choose a vice president who favors legal abortion, those gains could be reversed. Fourteen percent of enthusiastic McCain supporters said they would be less likely to vote for McCain if he picked a pro-choice running mate. A majority of these enthusiastic voters said it would not make much difference in their support for the Republican ticket.

Early in the 2004 campaign, the enthusiasm gap was reversed: Nearly half of President Bush's supporters were very enthusiastic about his bid according to a June 2004 Post-ABC poll, while just a third of John Kerry's backers were so emphatically behind him.

Today, Obama has an edge over McCain in support from his party's rank-and-file as well as the ideological base. More than half of liberal Democrats are strongly enthusiastic about the senator's run, while 37 percent of conservative GOPers are so fired up about McCain's candidacy.

Beyond the base, African Americans help drive Obama's high enthusiasm ratings. Nearly three-quarters of all blacks are very enthusiastic about Obama's bid. Among whites, strong enthusiasm for McCain stands at 15 percent, it is 21 percent for Obama.

--By Jennifer Agiesta and Kyle Dropp

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  06:12 PM ET, 08/28/2008

Categories:  Post Polls

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