We've written plenty on this blog about Democrats' enthusiasm deficit in the 2014 election. This gap was, is and will almost definitely continue to be real through Nov. 4.
But while it's well understood that Obama's unpopularity is driving GOP enthusiasm, we haven't really studied the inverse -- i.e. just how little Obama's presidency is motivating Democrats to vote.
A new AP-GfK poll has some good insight.
Most polls ask Americans whether they approve or disapprove of Obama, and some ask whether people feel "strongly" that way. Generally, there will be significantly more who disapprove than approve, but even more than that, the "strongly disapprove" crowd will be about twice as big -- or more -- as the "strongly approve" crowd.
Hence, the enthusiasm gap. People who feel strongly about Obama are those most likely to vote, organize, donate money, etc.
But even those numbers might actually undersell just how unmotivated Democrats are to vote.
The AP-GfK poll asked the approve/disapprove question, finding 17 percent of likely voters said they strongly approve of Obama and 44 percent strongly disapprove. But then it asked a separate -- and we would argue, more enlightening -- question about the Obama administration. It asked how people felt about it, and gave them four options: "enthusiastic," "satisfied but not enthusiastic," "dissatisfied but not angry," and "angry."
That would seem to be a pretty good analogue for the approve/disapprove question, but the answers are quite a bit different. While 17 percent of likely voters "strongly approve" of Obama, just 9 percent say they are "enthusiastic" about his administration.
On the other side, 34 percent say they are "angry" about Obama's presidency. Again, that's less than the 44 percent who "strongly disapprove" of Obama.
Something accounts for those differences, of course. Perhaps it's because people don't really like to attach emotion to their feelings about the president. They like to think it's a rational decision, and when you bring something like "anger" into the mix, it sounds more like a knee-jerk reaction.
As for being "enthusiastic" though, we're not sure what would prevent Democrats who "strongly approve" of Obama's presidency from also professing to be enthusiastic about it.
Perhaps they're just not that excited about politics. But whatever the case, the result is the same: only about one out of 10 people who heads to the polls on Nov. 4 will go there being enthusiastic about the Obama presidency.
And this, we would remind folks, includes only the Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters who are most likely to vote. Among everyone else, it goes down the 8 percent.