Understanding Republican Intensity in 2016

In a different blog post, we highlighted the surge in turnout among Republicans in Iowa and New Hampshire. There are a lot of ways in polling to measure intensity, but the one unmistakable way of understanding voter motivation is an actual increase in turnout!

Let’s make this easy for our Democratic friends to understand: Imagine this is the beginning of 2008 and you have an opportunity to demonstrate your interest in moving on from seven years of the Bush Presidency. This is exactly how Republicans are feeling today!

Throughout their presidencies, there have been multiple times where President Bush and President Obama have had similar numbers. The following charts look at job approval and personal feeling thermometers from the opposite party for each president. It makes abundantly clear the deep antipathy partisans have for each president. This deep antipathy was a critical factor for higher Democratic turnout in 2008 and is certainly contributing to the higher Republican turnout so far in 2016.

Presidential Job Approval

intensity 1


Personal Feeling Thermometers

intensity 2

One caucus and one primary is only an early measure and should not be used as a definitive final answer about the Republican and Democratic turnout in 2016. However, the increase in Republican turnout with a drop in Democratic turnout is an emerging and potentially important story we will continue to monitor throughout the primaries.


*Data from NBC/WSJ surveys

Public Opinion Strategies