Much has been made of the drop-off from 2008 in this year’s primaries and caucuses in the Republican presidential nominating process. But it’s not a compelling analysis unless you consider whether Democrats are also lacking enthusiasm. Gallup sheds some light on the matter:
By 53% to 45%, Republicans, including independents who lean Republican, are slightly more likely than Democrats and Democratic leaners to say they are “more enthusiastic than usual about voting” this year. Republicans have consistently led Democrats in voting enthusiasm since last fall, but to varying degrees.
Oops. So maybe all that cable TV news chatter about how the GOP is turning off its voters and is risking a depressed turnout in the fall is not very compelling after all. In fact, enthusiasm is up among Republicans since December 2011. Perhaps the primaries aren’t such a downer for Republicans after all? (“The 53% of Republicans who feel more enthusiastic about voting today — as Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are engaged in a pitched nomination battle — is greater than the 44% found in February 2008 when John McCain and Mike Huckabee were still dueling in the primaries.”)
But there is more. You see, President Obama has some enthusiasm problems of his own: “At this time four years ago, 62% of Americans, overall, were more enthusiastic about voting and 30% were less enthusiastic. That eagerness was mainly the result of heightened enthusiasm among Democrats, with 79% ‘more enthusiastic,’ as noted above. However, corresponding with their Democratic leanings, nonwhites and 18- to 29-year-olds also showed exceptionally high enthusiasm about voting in 2008, with more than 70% of each group saying they were ‘more enthusiastic.’ Today, by contrast, these groups’ mood is on par with that of whites and older adults.” In other words, the Obama girls aren’t going to get giddy with excitement this time around.
It is telling how a widespread media meme — Republicans have an enthusiasm problem — can be based on an entirely one-sided view of the electorate and lack any polling data. It’s almost as if the media are trying to make things look as gloomy as possible for the GOP.