About that Enthusiasm Gap … We’re not in 2008 any more Dorothy

Gallup has another survey out today in conjunction with USA Today.  While there are plenty of interesting take-aways from the survey questions, what struck me most was the enthusiasm gap and who is up versus who is down this year.

The poll of 1,446 adults, taken Monday through Thursday, has a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.

Republicans have opened a big enthusiasm gap: 64% say they are more enthusiastic than usual about voting, compared to 48% of Democrats. In general, though, the results show an electorate that is less excited and less engaged than in recent presidential elections.

Democrats are less enthusiastic about voting than in 2008, although Republicans are a bit more enthusiastic. Fewer Democrats and Republicans say they have given a lot of thought to the election than they did in the falls of 2008 and 2004.

Polls of “adults” over-sample Democrat support which makes the subsequent take-aways all the more damning.  I’m going to repeat them for those who missed it the first time:

Democrats are less enthusiastic about voting than in 2008


Republicans are a bit more enthusiastic.

Paraphrasing Inigo Montoya: You keep using those 2008 turnout models. I do not think they mean what you think they mean.


  1. shane
    Posted September 29, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

    So a 16 point enthusiasm difference is “a bit more” yet an Obama 4 point lead us “game over” to some. Hmmmm

  2. margaret
    Posted September 29, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

    More juicy facts from Gallup’s site. In an Adult poll, Oct 14-16 2004: “Only 51% of Republicans say they are more enthusiastic about voting than in previous years, compared to 71% of Democrats, marking a shift from October 2004, when enthusiasm was about the same for both partisan groups.”

    So, pre-election 2004, Dem and Rep enthusiasm were equal, and Republicans won
    In 2008, Dem=71%, Rep=51% enthusiastic, and Democrats won
    In 2012, Dems=48%, Reps = 64% enthusiastic, and who will win?? Pollsters say their turnout model shows D+7 or more for this year. Democrats are more enthusiastic to vote than in 2008? This is garbage. It’s not going to be anywhere close to that…

    • margaret
      Posted September 29, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Oops, I mean “In an Adult poll, Oct 14-16 2008”. It’s obvious in what I say next but anyway. 🙂

  3. WillBest
    Posted September 29, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

    As Medved said on his show about Sam Jacks. An ad like that is not something you make unless you are desperate.

  4. jpcapra1
    Posted September 29, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The other point is the overall battleground map. The empty chair has conceeded two states he won last time(IN and NC), and another he almost won(MO). He is defending two states he didn’t have to last time, MI and WI. So how is someone to believe he is winning FL by more than the 2.5 he won by last time, and OH by more than the 4.5. The RCP average only has him up 4, which means there is no way he is winning FL or OH by more than that, if he is winning at all.

    • WillBest
      Posted September 29, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

      That is why its impossible to believe the polls. How is it that the leans republican states went more red, while the other states are leaning more blue. If you can’t answer that question then your poll is flawed.

  5. johnfisher
    Posted September 29, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

    jpcapra1 – you have hit the proverbial nail on the head. Gallup CEO had a blog out yesterday that also noted this. Although he essentially dismisses the PID allocations – he urges people to just focus on the ballot. If you see a poll that has O up +10 in Ohio – just generally look at what happened in 2004 compare it to 2008 and just ask yourself does it make any sense. If


  6. Posted September 30, 2012 at 11:50 am | Permalink | Reply

    I don’t know where this “enthusiasm gap” comes from. Everyone I know who supports Obama wants to BURY Mittens so badly we never hear from him again. They want to run up the score. They want to go for the touchdown with a 20-point lead and ten seconds on the clock. They want to steal second base with a 15-run lead in the ninth. They want to dance in the end zone until the stadium is condemned.

    That sounds like enthusiasm to me. What WILL the conspiracy theorists say when the voting matches the polls they despise so much?

    Disclaimer: I am a US Army veteran (E-5, Honorable). Your patriotism may vary.

    • Posted September 30, 2012 at 11:57 am | Permalink | Reply

      Your points are one of the reasons we put so much stock in these polls. It’s quite possible everything you are seeing is 100% accurate. At the same time, in another part of town, there is someone who sees many Obama 2008 voters who would never vote for Obama again so they don’t see how Obama can win since so many people they know won’t vote for Obama.

      The country is very large and diverse and people hold many views on different subjects. But at the same time in various communities only one view is held whether that be all for Obama or all for Romney. It doesn’t mean either community is wrong. But to extrapolate that view across communities and across the states is unwise.

      All I can tell you is every poll I have seen is like the one in this blog post. Democrats are not as enthusiastic about the President today as they were in 2008.

      Thanks for visiting.

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] the weekend Chuck Todd pointed out what regular readers of this blog have known all along: President Obama’s 2008 coalition is both less supportive […]

  2. […] targeted Democrat demographics not reaching out to red areas, and these findings are consistent the enthusiasm gap we see nationwide.  I only point out this alternative, and defensible, view point so we […]

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