Enthusiasm gap for Democrats?
posted at 1:36 pm on November 30, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
The first rule for defense attorneys and political activists: don’t ask questions to which you really don’t want to hear the answers. Daily Kos discovered that in its newly-commissioned poll from last week, in which they discovered that Republicans are three times less likely to skip voting in the midterm elections as Democrats. In fact, up to 40% of the latter don’t plan to vote at all:
Forty percent of self-identified Democratic voters say they are “not likely” or “definitely” won’t vote in next year’s Congressional elections, according to a little-noticed poll released over the Thanksgiving weekend.
The poll, which surveyed 2,400 Americans nationwide between Nov. 22 and Nov. 25, found that self-identified Republicans were three times more likely to say they were going to vote next year. The results suggest perilous fights for Democrats in the midterm elections, where the president’s party typically lose seats.
Steve Benen captured the most significant data:
Among self-identified Republican voters, 81% are either “definitely” voting next year or “probably” voting, while 14% are “not likely” to vote or will “definitely” not vote.
Among self-identified Independent voters, 65% are either “definitely” voting next year or “probably” voting, while 23% are “not likely” to vote or will “definitely” not vote.
And among self-identified Democratic voters, 56% are either “definitely” voting next year or “probably” voting, while 40% are “not likely” to vote or will “definitely” not vote.
Given how independents have broken with Obama and the Democrats, the heightened enthusiasm among unaffiliated voters is not good news for Democrats or Obama. Unfortunately for Democrats, Benen offers the hair of the dog as political advice. He says that Democrats have to push through ObamaCare, cap-and-trade, and take on both immigration reform and Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell to resolve their enthusiasm problem.
Of course, that’s what created the problem in the first place. Democrats believed they had a mandate for a progressive agenda after 2008, even though Obama himself specifically ran as a moderate whose “change” would be tonal rather than a radical shift in policy. The flight of independents are a testament to Democratic overreach on all of those issues, plus the failure of the Democrats to meaningfully address unemployment as well as budget-busting deficits.
Of course, Benen may be offering those suggestions as a check list to be completed before voters give them the boot from Capitol Hill. Some have suggested that very approach more openly; Michael Bennet, whose re-election to the Senate seems less and less likely, has already said that he’d accept losing his seat as a trade-off for ObamaCare. House Democrats in conservative districts have already made that choice. If Bennet’s colleagues in the upper chamber agree, Reid can pass this and all of the other progressive agenda items whenever he wants. The fact that he can barely get enough votes to open debate on ObamaCare strongly suggests that the people whose livelihoods are at stake understand that the hair of the dog only puts off the hangover — and eventually makes it much worse.
Update: Fixed the opening paragraph. Originally it read that Republicans are three times more likely to vote, but that was a misread of the data. They’re three times less likely to skip voting in the midterms, which is not the same thing.