As anyone who watched the Democratic national convention’s Abortion-Palooza could easily determine, Barack Obama and his campaign team have settled for a base-turnout election rather than appeal to the moderates. So far, that strategy appears to have paid dividends. Gallup’s poll today shows enthusiasm increasing in all affiliations in both the swing states and nationally, but Democrats have gotten the biggest enthusiasm surge:
Voters in the 12 states USA Today and Gallup consider the key swing states that could decide the 2012 presidential election are now significantly more enthusiastic about voting this fall than they were in June. Six in 10 (59%) are either “extremely” or “very” enthusiastic, up from 46%.
Voter enthusiasm in these states has grown among members of both political parties; however, Democrats’ level has increased more. Thus, whereas equal percentages of Democrats and Republicans were enthusiastic in June, Democrats are now significantly more enthusiastic than Republicans, 73% vs. 64%.
Independents’ enthusiasm also jumped substantially over this period — up 18 points, similar to the 20-point gain among Democrats; however, independents’ enthusiasm still lags behind that of both partisan groups.
How big was the bump? Democrats got a +20 from the swing states since the end of June, while Republicans only got a +9, with Democrats now leading 73/64 on that score. Independents got almost the same size bump as Democrats at +18, but that only puts them at 43% being either extremely or very enthusiastic. Nationally, Democrats got a +19 and Republicans a +10, similar to the swing-state bumps, while independents only got a +9. This would explain the post-convention bump that lifted Barack Obama for more than a week over his rival in Gallup’s tracking poll.
A few things to note, however, about the polling methodology. This poll took place among registered voters, not likely voters, although enthusiasm is one way to determine the likely-voter model for this election (the other major factor being a history of voting). The other point to consider is the polling dates of this particular survey, which took place between September 11 and September 17. That’s a long period of time, with the first couple of days still within the big-bump region of Gallup’s post-convention tracking poll. In fact, September 11 was the peak of that post-convention bounce, with Obama up seven — but yesterday only had Obama up one point, 47/46.
The big question for Team Obama is whether they can sustain their base-turnout strategy for the two-month grind ahead, as George W. Bush managed to do in 2004 over John Kerry. The enthusiasm bump suggests that they can succeed in short spurts, but the deflation in Obama’s standing in the tracking poll suggests that Obama enthusiasm alone will be difficult to sustain in the long term. They need to deflate Republican enthusiasm and keep independents from engaging, and this poll suggests that they didn’t have much success even in the short term with those efforts.