Will Republicans again benefit from a big “enthusiasm gap” in the 2012 elections, just as they did in 2010? There are various ways of gauging the energy level of the Democratic base — the metrics seem mixed — but here’s one that perhaps suggests the left will be very energized indeed this year.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee is set to announce some surprising fundraising numbers this morning — and the key is that the group’s totals this cycle have already surpassed its 2010 numbers, even though 2012 is just getting started. Among the numbers:

* In 2011, the group raised over $1.1 million from its members for candidates across the country — from over 104,000 donations, at an average donation size of around $11.

* That sum is already 15 percent higher than the $1 million the PCCC raised during the entire last cycle.

* The group raised nearly $610,000 for Elizabeth Warren’s Senate candidacy, from over 31,000 donors.

* The group now has nearly one million members.

In addition to Elizabeth Warren’s candidacy, the PCCC’s fundraising numbers have been driven in part by other progressive House candidates and incumbents, such as Ann McLane Kuster in New Hampshire, Donna Edwards in Maryland, Raul Grijalva in Arizona and Brad Miller in North Carolina.

“The energy and momentum in 2012 is clearly behind progressive candidates and with the hundreds of thousands of grassroots supporters who have their back,” emails PCCC co-founder Adam Green.

It’s very hard to gauge exactly how energized the base will be — polls show that Obama’s approval ratings among liberals have actually been relatively stable, though that doesn’t really tell us anything about wheher their enthusiasm will be at the levels Obama and Dems need. The Obama campaign points to its massive number of small donors as proof that it will be.

The PCCC’s fundraising does tell us one important thing about the state of the Dem base right now — it is in fact very energized when it comes to supporting candidates who unabashedly articulate a strong progressive platform. There seems to be a hunger for such candidates among grassroots Dems across the country. Whatever the state of understandable liberal disappointment with certain aspects of the Obama presidency, Obama’s sharp populist turn suggests his campaign gets this.


UPDATE: Obviously Super PACs are raising far more money than groups like the PCCC are. But the difference here is that Super PAC fundraising is driven by massive donations from the very wealthy.