Some pollsters, including Gallup, suggested that Republican voter enthusiasm in this midterm cycle began to wane after the passage of ObamaCare. Three months later, Gallup says that GOP enthusiasm remains off the charts — almost literally, in this case. Republicans have a 35-point advantage over Democrats at the moment:
An average of 59% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents have said they are more enthusiastic than usual about voting this year compared with past elections, the highest average Gallup has found in a midterm election year for either party since the question was first asked in 1994.
The prior high for a party group was 50% more enthusiastic for Democrats in 2006, which is the only one of the last five midterm election years in which Democrats have had an enthusiasm advantage. In that election, Democrats won back control of the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time since 1994.
The current average is based on four measures of this enthusiasm question since February, including the recent June 11-13 USA Today/Gallup poll. In that poll, 53% of Republicans said they were more enthusiastic than usual about voting and 39% were less enthusiastic, while 35% of Democrats said they were more enthusiastic about voting and 56% were less enthusiastic.
Republicans’ net score of +14 more enthusiastic in the latest poll compared with the Democrats’ net score of -21 represents the largest relative party advantage Gallup has measured in a single midterm election-year poll. More generally, Republicans have shown a decided relative advantage in enthusiasm throughout 2010, averaging a net score of +28, compared with Democrats’ net score of 0.
Democratic incumbents looking to tamp down this enthusiasm have decided to skip holding town halls in their districts. That may keep Republicans and independents from easily rallying in opposition to their policies, but it’s not helping them keep those seats Democratic, either. They need to excite their own base enough to come out to the polls in November, and so far, they’re failing miserably. A net score of zero probably overstates Democratic enthusiasm.
Even that +28 for Republicans with the net 0 for Democrats is still a record. In 1994, when Republicans took back Congress for the first time in over 40 years, that number was only +17, and that was with a -1 for the GOP (Democrats had a -18). In 2006, when Democrats took back the House, they had an eleven point enthusiasm advantage (+10 for Dems and -1 for the GOP). It presages a big GOTV success for the Republicans, while Democrats wind up rolling back to pre-Obama levels of motivational futility.