The Washington Post

Democrats have an enthusiasm problem. Big time.


President Obama shakes hands upon his arrival in Pittsburgh last week. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

The history-making coalition that delivered the presidency to Barack Obama in 2008 and reelected him in 2012 has a distinct attitude toward the 2014 election: Meh.

A new poll from Democratic pollster Democracy Corps finds that just 68 percent of African Americans, Latinos, young people and unmarried women who voted in 2012 and are "likely" to vote in 2014 -- the four key parts of Obama's coalition -- say they are "almost certain" to vote in the upcoming midterm elections.

That's up four points from April, when 64 percent said the same. But it's still lagging far behind other voting groups, a combined 85 percent of whom say they are almost certain to vote. The new 17-point gap is up from 15 in April and 11 in March of last year.

For comparison's sake, at the tail end of the Democrats' disastrous 2010 campaign, the gap was 22 points.

Here's how the data for this election look:

RAEreal

 

We wrote back in April how troubling this news is for Democrats. That's because their 2008 and 2012 coalitions were notable in large part because of these four groups, which don't generally turn out big but did so for Obama.

And the effect on the 2014 election is clear. While the less-enthusiastic "Rising American Electorate" (the pollster's name for the Obama coalition) favors Democrats by 19 points, all of the other, more-enthusiastic voter groups combine to favor Republicans by 18 points.

And these aren't the only polls to suggest midterm turnout is a looming problem for Democrats. An April AP-GfK poll showed, among those who are strongly interested in politics -- i.e. most apt to vote -- people favored a GOP-controlled Congress 51 percent to 37 percent.

Democrats will continue seeking motivation for their voters -- a big reason you've heard so much talk about GOP obstruction, the "war on women," allegations of GOP racism and the Koch brothers. All of these are geared at motivating the unmotivated, who are legion right now.

Despite these efforts, many of Democrats' most important voters are still very casual about the need to vote in November.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.

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