After spending tens of millions of dollars trying to demonize Mitt Romney over the last two months, Barack Obama and his campaign had hoped to erode any enthusiasm for the Republican nominee. According to the new CBS/NYT poll, not only have they failed, the effort may be backfiring:
Meantime, three and a half months before election day, Republican enthusiasm about voting this year has shot up since Mitt Romney clinched the nomination in April, from 36 percent of Republicans saying they were more enthusiastic in March to 49 percent now.
President Obama was helped to election in 2008 by a wave of voter enthusiasm among Democrats, however this year, Democratic enthusiasm is down a bit since March. Twenty-seven percent of Democrats said they were more enthusiastic about voting this year than they were in past elections, compared to 30 percent four months ago. And 48 percent of Democrats say their enthusiasm this year is the same as past elections, compared to 39 percent who answered the same question in March.
Independent voters’ enthusiasm is also up with 29 percent saying they’re more enthusiastic now from 22 percent four months ago.
Overall, voters aren’t as enthusiastic about this year’s election as they were in 2008. Just 33 percent of all registered voters said they were more enthusiastic this year than they were for past elections, compared to 41 percent in March 2008.
The CBS/NYT poll isn’t exactly known for its sample quality, so it will be interesting to see how that overall enthusiasm number relates to the D/R/I split. If Republican enthusiasm increased by thirteen points and independents by seven points, the overall drop of only eight points seems a little low.
The big takeaway, though, is that 49% of Republicans and 29% of independents express increased enthusiasm for this election, while only 27% of Democrats say the same thing. If Obama’s attacks are depressing enthusiasm, it’s pretty clear whose enthusiasm he’s depressing. That was always the risk for a candidate whose main qualification for office was hope and change, and whose signature outcome has been economic stagnation.