2014 Voter Enthusiasm Favors Republicans
For now at least, Republicans are far more enthusiastic about voting in November than Democrats. That could be decisive.
A new poll indicates that Republican voters are far more enthusiastic about voting in November than their Democratic counterparts:
Washington (CNN) – Republicans have an edge in enthusiasm over Democrats as the Midterm Election season begins to heat up, according to a new national survey.
Seventy percent of registered Republican voters questioned in a new CBS News poll say they are very or somewhat excited about voting in November, compared to 58% of Democrats. Only 47% of independent voters say they’re very or somewhat excited to cast ballots in the midterms. And 81% of registered Republicans say they’ll definitely vote in November, compared to 68% of registered Democrats.
More importantly for Republicans, and potentially worrisome for Democrats, is the fact that President Obama’s poll numbers continue to drop and there seem to be a lot of people out there who view their vote in the 2014 midterms as a vote against the President and his agenda:
President Obama’s not on the ballot come November, but Republicans are framing the contests as a referendum on the President and his policies, especially the Affordable Care Act, which is commonly known as Obamacare. The poll indicates that 29% see the midterms as a chance to vote against Obama, with 19% seeing their vote as a move to support the President. Forty-six percent say the President’s not a factor in their vote.
“Most Republican voters (52%) see the upcoming midterm elections as a chance to vote against the President. By contrast, fewer Democrats (43%) see 2014 as a chance to support President Obama. For most independents (55%) the President isn’t a factor at all – but those who see a connection are breaking more than two-to-one against him,” says the CBS release.
According to the poll, Republicans and Democrats are deadlocked at 39% in the generic ballot question. A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey indicated the GOP holding an insignificant one-point margin (44%-43%) over the Democrats.
The generic ballot question, which asks to choose between a Democrat or Republican in respondents’ congressional district without identifying the candidates, is one of the most commonly used indicators when it comes to the battle for Congress. But since the battle for the House of Representatives are 435 individual races rather than one national contest, the poll results are a long way from predicting what will happen in midterm elections.
Additionally, the Generic Ballot question is typically a lagging indicator when it comes to indicating how the battle for control of the House and Senate are likely to turn out in a given election. In the run-up to the 2010 elections, for example, Republicans and Democrats were pretty much even in the Generic Ballot for most of the year, and indeed there were even times when Democrats led in the Generic Ballot for brief periods of time. It wasn’t until roughly August of that year that the Generic Ballot began to show the GOP pulling ahead in a race that would ultimately see them pick up more than 60 seats in the House and nearly gain control of the Senate. Prior to then, though, it had been clear for much of the year that Republican voters were far more enthusiastic about voting in the 2010 midterms than their Democratic counterparts, and that enthusiasm continued to grow as Election Day 2010 got closer. When combined with the fact that turnout in midterm election years tends to favor the GOP to begin with, that enthusiasm was a large part of the reason that Republicans score the victories that have shaped the political landscape for the last four years. If the same thing happens this year, then the GOP could once again see itself with a very good year that lands it control of not just the House of Representatives, but the Senate as well.
Looking at the specifics, it seems quite obvious that there is little to no danger that the GOP will lose control of the House Of Representatives this year. First of all, the state of the polls are such that there does not appear to be anything that would give rise to a the kind of widespread repudiation of the GOP that would be required for that to happen. Indeed, the fact that Republicans held on to the House in 2012 notwithstanding the fact that President Obama won re-election and Democrats picked up seats in the Senate is itself a pretty strong indication of just how solid their House majority is for the the foreseeable future. Second, as we’ve noted here at OTB in the past, there are far fewer truly contestable seats in the House now than there were even as recently as 2008 or 2006. Given that, the only way Democrats would be able to chip away at a GOP majority would be to win seats in largely Republican districts, something that only tends to happen when there’s the kind of wave election that seems very unlikely this year. Finally, the Republicans continue to benefit from very favorable Congressional Redistricting that happened to coincide with their victories at the state legislative level in the 2010 elections. Those benefits will most likely continue at least through the 2020 elections. Given all of that, and absent another political tsunami election year, the GOP is not going to lose control of the House in 2014 or at any other point in the forseeable future.
The Senate, of course, is a different story. It was already clear going into 2014 that the GOP was looking at a rather favorable map. In recent months, though, it’s become apparent that the list of potentially winnable Democratic seats has expanded, thus making it more likely that the GOP would regain control of the Senate in November. Indeed, just this week Nate Silver posted his first forecast of the 2014 elections in which he presently gives the GOP a 60% chance of winning Senate control. That’s a pretty good place to be in with more than seven months to go until Election Day, and if voter sentiment continues as it is reflected in this new poll then Democrats will be in for a very difficult night in November and an even more difficult two years between now and the 2016 election.