WaPo: The most enthusiastic voting demo is ...

AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe

… not Democrat women angry over abortion. It’s not independents unhappy with Donald Trump. If Philip Bump’s analysis for the Washington Post is correct, the most enthusiastic demo in this cycle may have been broadly overlooked by prognosticators this summer.


Because the most enthusiastic demo this fall is Republican men (via David Strom, who will join us next week):

On Tuesday, I looked at the growing murmurs that American women in particular are going to flood the polls in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Protecting access to abortion in the wake of the dismantling of Roe v. Wade quickly became a rallying cry aimed at November — but polling doesn’t indicate that Democrats have seen a big surge in support from female voters.

In fact, data provided to The Washington Post by the polling firm YouGov indicate that the group that reports the most enthusiasm about voting is the polar opposite of what many expect: Republican men. And that this enthusiasm has grown.

True, but hasn’t enthusiasm grown faster among those demos tied more closely to the end of Roe? One would think that if such trends existed, YouGov would find them, given their routinely sunnier estimates of Joe Biden’s approval rating among pollsters. The answer YouGov gives Bump, however, is a resounding no:

Democratic women reported more enthusiasm after the decision was released in late June, continuing an upward trend. But Democratic men expressed a much bigger surge in enthusiasm — one that was fairly short-lived.

Republican women, meanwhile, didn’t change their reported enthusiasm much following Dobbs. But more than half of Republican men now consistently report being more enthusiastic than in other years to vote in November. They’re the only group above that mark. Their reported enthusiasm has also been trending upward.

The patterns are more clear if we look at four-week groups of reported enthusiasm. If we consider the four polls before Dobbs, the four immediately after and the four most recent, you see that enthusiasm is pretty flat among independents and Republican women. For Republican men, their already-high level of enthusiasm ticked upward. For Democratic men and women, enthusiasm increased quite a bit post-Dobbs and then waned.


So what are we to make of the post-Dobbs media narratives? Either those outlets looked at different data sets than YouGov, or they got caught up in a popular narrative without much evidence for it. It certainly seemed like the end of Roe would generate angry enthusiasm among abortion-favoring women (and men), and YouGov confirms it did …. briefly. That was likely enough to fuel a few months of that narrative, at least until someone peeked under the hood.

Why was that enthusiasm so short-lived? As I wrote in late June, when a set of election results failed to demonstrate any actual voter response to Dobbs, it’s because most Americans don’t live and breathe abortion every day of their lives. They have to live and breathe issues like the economy and crime every single day, however:

But even if it was largely an abortion issue, it didn’t move the needle enough to matter in Nebraska, and that’s just four days after the Dobbs decision made the Roe revocation final. If it didn’t move the needle this week, it’s highly unlikely to move the needle in November. This midterm cycle will still hinge on the economy, inflation especially, crime, and the referendum on the incumbent president. Democratic scaremongering on abortion won’t distract from the daily lived experience of American voters over the next four months — and in fact, it doesn’t even appear to have lasted four days.


A couple of weeks later, I again emphasized this point, especially in this cycle:

Let’s also not forget that James Carville’s famous electoral admonition that “it’s the economy, stupid” was intended as an evergreen observation on elections. Even in good times, Americans tend to focus on their personal finances as a filter for their voting choices, an instinctual more than intellectual process that automatically tends to discount issues like climate change and foreign policy. To get voters to care about those issues as a primary voting motive, advocates usually have to sell their economic benefits. When the economic environment turns this sour, the economy is practically the only issue on which voters will decide. Until the economic conditions improve enough to stop the erosion of working- and middle-class buying power and shortages come to an end, inflation and other economic concerns will eclipse everything else, perhaps even for the activists.

So what does this mean for past polling, and what does it mean for the rest of the cycle? We can start expecting pollsters to apply likely-voter filters soon to their surveys, if they have not already done so. What have we seen for those who already are focusing on LVs? These August/September results from RCP’s aggregation:

  • Insider Advantage: D+1 (500 respondents)
  • Rasmussen: R+5
  • Trafalgar: R+6
  • CBS News: R+2

That’s quite a bit different than the summer narrative lets on. Get ready for another paradigm shift, or perhaps better put, a realization that Dobbs never actually changed the paradigm much at all.

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John Stossel 12:00 AM | April 24, 2024