The November No-Shows
President Obama and the Democrats have caught up to the fact their Base voters don’t seem that interested in showing up to vote this year.

Unfortunately for them, this is not a new trend. We’ve been watching this for several months, noting the unprecedented interest gap in November’s elections between self-identified Republicans (67{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} “very interested”) and Democrats (46{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} “very interested”).* Somehow, the passage of health care reform was supposed to close this 20-point gap, but as several more recent polls show, that’s not the case.  This month, Gallup asks a different question, but finds a similar chasm with 48{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Republicans saying they are “very enthusiastic” about voting in November compared to just 30{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Democrats.**

These are troubling numbers for Democrats. Thus, the President’s appeal this week for help from his winning coalition: “It will be up to each of you to make sure the young people, African Americans, Latinos, and women who powered our victory in 2008 stand together once again.” It’s a fair call for help, but based on what we’re seeing in our data it’s unlikely we’ll see a repeat of 2008 at the polls this November. Here are the reasons:

It’s highly unlikely younger voters will show up: We know historically that mid-term elections tend to draw older voters rather than younger voters. After 2008 there was much speculation that the American electorate had been forever changed.  Fast-forward just one year and the gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia stuck a fork in that theory, strongly suggesting that 2010 – like 2009 – will be more akin to previous mid-term elections than 2008.

The enthusiasm that drove younger voters to the polls in 2008 is gone: Couple these more traditional mid-term turnout rates with the lack of interest young people express about voting this November – just 23{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of 18-29 year olds say they are “very enthusiastic,” compared with 44{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of voters age 50-64 and 41{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of seniors age 65+ – and you start to see the concern that must be swirling among Democrats.***
Independents have bolted: President Obama didn’t mention this all-important sub-group in his call for help…but he should have because support for Democrats among Independents has completely collapsed in the last year.
Those most likely to show up are voting Republican: Finally, it’s no surprise – given the different levels of enthusiasm by party identification – that the voters who ARE “very enthusiastic” about this year’s elections (read: most likely to show up at the voting booth) – are expressing a double-digit preference for a Republican candidate for Congress (57{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) over a Democratic candidate (37{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}).***

Granted, it’s only the end of April, and a lot can happen between now and November, but taken together this data paints a scary picture of what lies ahead for President Obama and Democrats in this year’s mid-term elections.

*NBC/WSJ national survey conducted March 11-14, 2010 among 1,000 adults. Data shown among 846 reg voters.
**Gallup national survey conducted April 5-11, 2010 among 1,613 registered voters.
***Gallup national survey conducted April 5-11, 2010 among 5,490 adults.
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