Friday, September 30, 2011

Gallup: The Continuing Democratic Voter Enthusiam Gap

Democrats and independents who always vote Democratic, otherwise known as the Democratic base, are not enthusiastic about the upcoming Presidential election year according to a new Gallup poll.

When the Democratic base voters and activists are enthusiastic about an election Democrats usually win that election.

In the 2008 election about 80% of the Democratic base was very enthusiastic about the election. Obama and Democratic congressional candidates won big at the polls that year.

In contrast, the Democratic base, disappointed by the failure of elected Democrats to stand up to Republican and defend progressive values as strongly as Republicans defend conservative values, polled an enthusiasm level of only 60 percent. The 2010 enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans allowed Teapublican candidates to win control of the U.S. House, as well as many state legislatures and governors' mansions.

According to the new Gallup poll, the gap between the Democrats’ level of enthusiasm compared to the Republicans’ level of enthusiasm is the largest it has been in a decade. A large enthusiasm gap is a bad thing in any political environment, but it’s especially problematic for the Obama campaign, which depended on high enthusiasm to get large turnout numbers from infrequent voters groups, such as young adults in 2008.

After the 2010 Democratic wipeout there was some hope among Democrats that the 2012 Congressional elections wouldn’t be as bad because having Obama on the ballot would inspire his 2008 surge voters to come out again. At this point though, it looks as if Obama’s ability to increase base enthusiasm or turnout is limited.

Democrats' Enthusiasm for Voting in Presidential Election Years, 2000-2008 and 2011

On the other hand the Republicans remain relatively enthusiastic about voting in 2012.

Republicans' Enthusiasm for Voting in Presidential Election Years, 2000-2008 and 2011

From the Texas panhandle blog jobsanger:
The poll shows that less than half of the Democrats, about 45%, are more enthusiastic than normal about the upcoming elections in 2012. About 44% say they are less enthusiastic than normal. That is a marked drop in enthusiasm even from the 2010 elections, and it is larger than can be accounted for by the margin of error. Meanwhile, the Republican enthusiasm remains at a steady 58%. The president and the congressional Democrats have an "enthusiasm gap" problem, and it is time they started acting to close that gap.

How can they do that? Well, it won't be done with rallies or speeches full of promises. They heard all of that in 2008 when they delivered a huge victory to the party. But the time since then has been filled with little but disappointment. The elected Democrats have just not delivered on the change they promised. Some of you are going to point out that much of that change was blocked by Republican obstructionist tactics (and blue dog timidity). And that is true.

But it is not so much the failure, as the way it happened. There can be honor in fighting the good fight, even when you lose that fight. But there is no honor in giving up and knuckling under. And far too often in the last few years, Democrats have seen their elected officials act as if they have no backbone. Too many of them gave up and gave in instead of going down fighting. And when you lay down a history of that kind of action, as many Democratic officials have done, it makes it very hard for voters to get enthused about your re-election.

This is especially true of the progressives who form the biggest part of the Democratic Party's base. After seeing issue after issue that they supported go down the tubes with little fight from the White House and congressional Democrats, they have become disenchanted. Most progressives know they are not going to get everything they want -- that is just how politics operates. But they do want to see their elected officials fight for those issues. If they are not willing to fight to the end for those progressive issues, why should they expect progressives to fight to get them re-elected?

The president and congressional Democrats have been taking progressives for granted for quite a while now. They figure the progressives have no other place to go and will wind up voting for Democrats in 2012, whether they want to or not. And they are probably right about that. Most progressives will vote in 2012, and most of them will vote for Democrats (even if they have to hold their noses to do so). But if that's all they do, then the Democrats will lose.

The issue is not whether Democrats will vote, but whether they will spend countless hours working for the party and it's candidates. Unenthused party members do not harass their families, friends, and neighbors to get them to the polls. Unenthused members do not give countless rides to the polls on election day. Unenthused people do not spend the weeks leading up to the election knocking on doors and making phone calls. Unenthused people don't open their wallets to support candidates. And unless a whole lot of people do these things the party cannot win.

There is still time to light the fire of enthusiasm in Democrats, but it's going to take guts and a fighting spirit from the elected Democrats. The president has proposed a good jobs bill and a fairly good deficit reduction package. They are worth fighting for. The Republicans will most likely kill both measures in the House and put pressure of Democrats to agree to some kind of Republican package instead. The Democrats must fight for what they want, and if it is blocked by the Republicans then that fight must be taken all the way to the next election. Giving in again is simply not going to be acceptable.

People will vote for fighters, and more important, people will fight to re-elect fighters. It's up to elected Democrats now. Do they have any fight in them, or not?

No comments:

Post a Comment