First, keep in mind that all registered voters don’t vote even in presidential years, and that in midterm elections the turnout is about one-third less. In an attempt to ascertain who really is most likely to vote, pollsters asked registered voters, on a scale of 1 to 10, how interested they were in the November elections. Those who said either 9 or 10 added up to just over half of the registered voters, coming in at 51 percent.
Hart and McInturff then looked at the change among the most-interested voters from the same survey in 2008. Although 2010 is a “down-shifting” election, from a high-turnout presidential year to a lower-turnout midterm year, one group was more interested in November than it was in 2008: those who had voted for Republican John McCain for president. And the groups that showed the largest decline in interest? Those who voted for Barack Obama — liberals, African-Americans, self-described Democrats, moderates, those living in either the Northeast or West, and younger voters 18 to 34 years of age. These are the “Holy Mackerel” numbers…
To be sure, things could change in the four months between now and November 2. The GOP’s failure to get Republicans to vote in the May 18 special election in Pennsylvania’s 12th District underscores that the party can’t just sit back and await spontaneous combustion in terms of turnout. Still, the potential is here for a result that is proportional to some of the bigger postwar midterm wave elections. These kinds of waves are often ragged; almost always some candidates who looked dead somehow survive and others who were deemed safe get sucked down in the undertow. That’s the nature of these beasts. But the recent numbers confirm that trends first spotted late last summer have fully developed into at least a Category 3 or 4 hurricane.
Architects of President Obama’s 2008 victory are braced for potentially sizable Democratic losses in November’s midterm elections. But they say voters’ unease about a GOP takeover will help their party maintain congressional majorities.
“I think the prospect of a Republican takeover — while not likely, but plausible — will be very much part of the dynamic in October, and I think that will help us with turnout and some of this enthusiasm gap,” said David Plouffe, who was Obama’s campaign manager two years ago and is helping to oversee Democratic efforts this fall. Still, he put all Democrats on notice, saying: “We’d better act as a party as if the House and the Senate and every major governor’s race is at stake and in danger, because they could be.”…
“I think that as long as the economy is struggling, the economy is going to be a decisive issue,” White House senior adviser David Axelrod said. “The question is whether people believe at the end of the day [that] turning backward to the policies that got us into the disaster is really the answer. That’s a debate we’re going to have.”