Earlier Gallup polls on voter enthusiasm focused on party affiliation, the most recent of which showed an ebbing among Republicans. Today’s report on a two-week Gallup survey broadens the view to ideological identification, and it shows that conservatives have not lost any momentum heading into the midterms. That may be even more troublesome for current Democratic Party leadership than has been assumed:
Registered voters who identify themselves as conservatives are significantly more enthusiastic about voting in this fall’s congressional elections than are liberals or moderates. Those who say they are “very” conservative are the most enthusiastic of all, with substantially higher enthusiasm than those who say they are “very” liberal. …
Gallup data since March of this year have consistently shown that Republicans are more enthusiastic about voting than Democrats. The data presented here on ideology confirm the conclusion that, at this time in the campaign, those to the right of the political spectrum appear to be most motivated to turn out and vote on Nov. 2.
The challenge for those on the political left is that, not only are there proportionately few self-identified liberals — 20% of registered voters interviewed so far in May identify as liberals, compared to 42% who say they are conservatives — but liberals remain relatively apathetic about voting. The 26% of liberals who say they are very enthusiastic about voting is similar to the percent of those who don’t lean either direction ideologically speaking (moderates) who say the same, and at a far lower level than those who are conservative.
A relatively small percentage of registered voters define themselves as “very” conservative (10%) or “very” liberal (4%). Despite their modest size overall, these voters could have a disproportionate influence on Election Day. They are significantly more enthusiastic about voting than those who share the same ideological identity, but who do not use the adjective “very” to describe their leanings. In short, those who have very strong ideological commitments are also the most eager to register that commitment through voting on Election Day this year.
It may be more instructive to look at the “not enthusiastic” numbers. Among all self-identified conservative voters, only 30% report being unenthusiastic about the midterms. In comparison, 50% of moderates and 42% of liberals are apathetic. Considering the wide gaps in identification with these positions, those position differences point to a midterm wipeout for nonconservative candidates.
That helps Republicans, but it goes deeper than that. The most enthusiastic Democratic voters are those who identify as conservatives (33%), not moderates (20%) or liberal (26%). Many of the Democrats who do go to the polls will not be pulling the lever for incumbents who pushed or even enabled the Nancy Pelosi agenda. Those conservative Democrats may see this election as a way to rid the party of the hard-Left leadership that has pushed the nation to the brink of fiscal collapse while conducting social engineering that offends their sensibilities.
That would be a beneficial palliative for Democrats, and a useful return to sanity for American politics.