Democratic Voter Enthusiasm Hits A Ten Year Low

If the 2012 elections are going to be decided by voter turnout, then the Democratic base is going to need some prodding:

In thinking about the 2012 presidential election, 45% of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic say they are more enthusiastic about voting than usual, while nearly as many, 44%, are less enthusiastic. This is in sharp contrast to 2008 and, to a lesser extent, 2004, when the great majority of Democrats expressed heightened enthusiasm about voting.

Democrats’ muted response to voting in 2012 also contrasts with Republicans’ eagerness. Nearly 6 in 10 Republicans, 58%, describe themselves as more enthusiastic about voting. That is nearly identical to Republicans’ average level of enthusiasm in 2004 (59%) and higher than it was at most points in 2008.

To show you how stark the differences are between the parties, here’s the Democratic chart:

And here’s the Republican chart:

As both charts show, these numbers are subject to variations over even short period of times, but this does not bode well for the Democrats. Voter enthusiasm is unlikely be that high during the coming months for Democrats because there’s no primary race for them to focus on,  while the GOP has both a primary race and plenty of signs that they have a good chance of winning in 2012. Obviously, things are likely to change to some degree once the General Election campaign heats up, but if the economy remains stagnant and the GOP doesn’t implode by nominating a true wacko, then there are likely to be many Democrats looking at November 6, 2012 with an impending sense of dread that is quite different from what they felt on Election Day 2008. How many of those people end up staying home that day is likely to be a question that haunts the Obama campaign.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Campaign 2012, Politicians, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. MBunge says:

    While the economy is obviously at the heart of this, there’s no doubt another factor has been the relentless drumbeat of Obama criticism that has sounded from liberal thought leaders. From Paul Krugman on down, the assault on Obama from the left has been one of the most self-destructive things I’ve ever seen in politics. You want to talk about how irrational the Tea Party is? Barack Obama achieves the greatest progressive victory in health care reform in two generations, a victory both Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton utterly failed to achieve, and he’s gotten more virulent crap for that accomplishment from his alleged supporters than most politicians ever get for their worst failures. Then there’s Obama getting more heat over ending DADT than Clinton ever got for creating it. I’ve never seen anything like it.

    Mike

  2. Franklin says:

    @MBunge: Yup, and that’s *just* from the left. The derangement from loud representatives of the right have been much worse, even though Obama is at worst a moderate.

  3. John Burgess says:

    Moderate? I guess how it looks depends on where you stand.

    While I certainly wouldn’t agree with those who put him on the far, far left, he’s further left than Clinton and about as deft as Carter.

  4. Tlaloc says:

    Barack Obama achieves the greatest progressive victory in health care reform in two generations, a victory both Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton utterly failed to achieve, and he’s gotten more virulent crap for that accomplishment from his alleged supporters than most politicians ever get for their worst failures.

    That’s serious historical revisionism. Obama had an opportunity, the famed once in a lifetime opportunity, to fix our healthcare system.

    But he decided he’d rather pass the republican alternative to hillarycare, which is a complete mess guaranteed to exacerbate the worst aspects of our system. So, no, he did not achieve a great progressive victory. He sold out progressives (once again), and we rightly hold him in the same contempt he holds us. Hopefully come election day he’ll find that pissing all over his base was a spectacularly dumb thing to do.

    I’ve never seen anything like it.

    Well, pretty obviously you aren’t really paying attention to what he’s done. On civil rights he’s been worse than bush. On militarism just as bad. On the environment he’s been pathetic. On gay rights he had to be dragged kicking and screaming into getting rid of DADT despite how incredibly safe that position is now. On transparency he’s been just as bad as bush.

    Almost every policy he’s pushed for (actually pushed for, not given lip service to while undercutting behind closed doors as with single payer) has been a republican policy from the 90s. So why should we support him? He’s not measurably better than Romney.

  5. An Interested Party says:

    If the 2012 elections are going to be decided by voter turnout, then the Democratic base is going to need some prodding…

    The specter of a Republican-controlled Congress and a Republican president will work wonders in the prodding department…

    But he decided he’d rather pass the republican alternative to hillarycare, which is a complete mess guaranteed to exacerbate the worst aspects of our system. So, no, he did not achieve a great progressive victory. He sold out progressives (once again), and we rightly hold him in the same contempt he holds us. Hopefully come election day he’ll find that pissing all over his base was a spectacularly dumb thing to do.

    Umm, just curious, but how, exactly, was he supposed to get a more progressive health care plan passed in Congress? Wave a magic wand, perhaps?

    Almost every policy he’s pushed for (actually pushed for, not given lip service to while undercutting behind closed doors as with single payer) has been a republican policy from the 90s. So why should we support him? He’s not measurably better than Romney.

    I suppose you will be happier with Romney or Perry as president along with a Republican-controlled Congress…

  6. Tlaloc says:

    Umm, just curious, but how, exactly, was he supposed to get a more progressive health care plan passed in Congress? Wave a magic wand, perhaps?

    60% majorities in both houses of congress, a huge electoral victory and the other party’s brand tarnished terribly. Yeah, there’s just no way that could possibly have been used to pass actual progressive legislation.

    He had all the political capital he needed to push through a hell of a lot of stuff if he’d wanted to. the thing is he didn’t want to. He never wanted to. At every step he’s been flippant if not downright hostile to the left and conciliatory towards the right.

    Pretending he was somehow forced to pass the republican health care plan is ridiculous.

    I suppose you will be happier with Romney or Perry as president along with a Republican-controlled Congress…

    I won’t be less happy with them. It’ll be refreshing to go back to the state of things where it isn’t the dems destroying everything the left has worked for for decades.

    let me put this frankly- Obama has asserted an inherent right to order the assassination of american citizens on american soil with no review or oversight whatsoever. How can you vote for someone who does that? What does it say about you that you could be so terrified of the other party that you’d vote FOR such a despicable person?

    I won’t vote for the republican this cycle because they’re all crazy, but nothing could possibly motivate me to vote for Obama. My guess is I’m not alone. There may not be a lot of conscience remaining on the left but it doesn’t take much to flip an election.

  7. freckle says:

    Ha. Obama has succeeded wildly at proving that “socialism is wonderful until you run out of other people’s money” and that a community organizer mentality does not serve the American people, including the groups who clamoured over the annointing of “The One”. Obama has done a fantastic job of alienating just about every sub-group with his mouth and incompetence.

    The mantra against the Tea Party, the GOP, Bush, etc has proven that we the people are sick of being blamed for the corrupt, self serving and destructive actions of the elected officials.

  8. MBunge says:

    @Tlaloc: “60% majorities in both houses of congress, a huge electoral victory and the other party’s brand tarnished terribly. Yeah, there’s just no way that could possibly have been used to pass actual progressive legislation.”

    That’s for perfectly illustrating what I mean. There is NO EVIDENCE that Obama could have gotten a substantially more liberal health care reform package through Congress. And you join the long list of bitchy leftists who can’t even offer up a vaguely logical or reasonable strategy for how it could have been accomplished.

    Liberals who say “try harder” on health care are no different than the conservatives who said “clap louder” on the Iraq War.

    Mike

  9. Tlaloc says:

    That’s for perfectly illustrating what I mean. There is NO EVIDENCE that Obama could have gotten a substantially more liberal health care reform package through Congress. And you join the long list of bitchy leftists who can’t even offer up a vaguely logical or reasonable strategy for how it could have been accomplished.

    That’s ridiculous. There’s a very clear path to getting a more liberal package through: you propose it and then you pass it without a single republican vote if need be, and if any lieberman types complain you hammer them politically with how amazingly popular single payer is until they capitulate. it’s politics and strangely people in much weaker positions politically have accomplished vastly more. Hell the right was in the extreme minority position and accomplished what it wanted.

    How is it you think they did that but Obama couldn’t possibly have done better?

    Obama started off by saying that single payer was off the table. that’s idiotic. He was giving up on items without using them as negotiating tools. He could have started by arguing passionately for single payer and then allowed himself to be negotiated down to a public option.

    You’re simply engaging in revisionism to pretend there was never an option for anything better. I don’t particularly feel like letting you rewrite history to cover up for Obama’s utter failure.

  10. MBunge says:

    @Tlaloc: “There’s a very clear path to getting a more liberal package through: you propose it and then you pass it without a single republican vote if need be, and if any lieberman types complain you hammer them politically with how amazingly popular single payer is until they capitulate. it’s politics and strangely people in much weaker positions politically have accomplished vastly more. Hell the right was in the extreme minority position and accomplished what it wanted.”

    I appreciate your continued efforts to demonstrate that Obama’s liberal critics don’t know what they hell they’re talking about, but I think we all get the point. Again, “try harder” is the same thing as “clap louder”.

    Mike

  11. MBunge says:

    @Tlaloc: “He could have started by arguing passionately for single payer and then allowed himself to be negotiated down to a public option.”

    I do have to say, this is the best example of liberal cluelessness I’ve seen in a while. Starting with the most extreme position possible and allowing yourself to be negotiated down works in theory exactly the way communism works in theory. It’s why unions don’t go into every contract negotiation demanding 300% pay hikes, triple the vacation days and free blow jobs during lunch hour.

    Mike

  12. Tlaloc says:

    I do have to say, this is the best example of liberal cluelessness I’ve seen in a while. Starting with the most extreme position possible and allowing yourself to be negotiated down works in theory exactly the way communism works in theory. It’s why unions don’t go into every contract negotiation demanding 300% pay hikes, triple the vacation days and free blow jobs during lunch hour.

    Wow. So you have no idea how actual negotiations work. Okay then. Yes, for that matter, every competent negotiator starts with far more than what they hope to achieve. Frankly given how insanely strong Obama’s position was single payer was not out of the question and public option should have been a slam dunk. Again you can try to rewrite history all you want but plenty of us remember how it actually happened. besides which if your goal is to encourage recalcitrant dems to vote for Obama anyway you frankly suck at it.

  13. MBunge says:

    @Tlaloc: “Frankly given how insanely strong Obama’s position was single payer was not out of the question and public option should have been a slam dunk.”

    I don’t know if you’re smart enough to understand it, but I guess I have to do my civic duty and try and improve the level of the public discourse.

    The President did not give up on the public option because he’s an evil bastard. He did it in exchange, formally or informally, for the health insurance industry not going all out to defeat health care reform. That was probably the single biggest factor in reform actually coming to pass. Given how difficult it was to pass health care reform in the absence of strident insurance industry opposition like what was seen during the Clinton reform effort, it is virtually impossible to conceive of a way in which reform could have been passed without that deal.

    Again, there’s NO EVIDENCE that another approach would have worked better and you still haven’t presented any strategy or technique other than “try harder”.

    Mike

  14. Tlaloc says:

    The President did not give up on the public option because he’s an evil bastard. He did it in exchange, formally or informally, for the health insurance industry not going all out to defeat health care reform.

    And that was a terrible idea because the health industry is exactly the problem with health care in the US. Without getting rids of that there’s no hope of reform.

    That was probably the single biggest factor in reform actually coming to pass. Given how difficult it was to pass health care reform in the absence of strident insurance industry opposition like what was seen during the Clinton reform effort, it is virtually impossible to conceive of a way in which reform could have been passed without that deal.

    Yeah it’s funny how when you give the opponent everything they want you can manage to get a deal rather easily. Who would have thought?

    Yes it would have been a hard fight for single payer but you know what didn’t make that fight any easier? Killing the option in secret meetings. You can fight for something, or you can give up. he chose to give up despite having the winning hand. Under the circumstances he could have made an impassioned plea for single payer, fought for it through the court of public opinion. Both the polls and the facts would have been squarely on his side. He could even have argued it as an economic boon, and there’s evidence that segments of the business community would have backed that.

    And if he lost that fight the next line would have been a public option.

    Instead he capitulated to a position that’s actually worse than the status quo. And people like you cheer him mindlessly despite it all.

    Again, there’s NO EVIDENCE that another approach would have worked better and you still haven’t presented any strategy or technique other than “try harder”.

    I know you think you’re really clever demanding evidence for a future that never happened but i gotta tell you I don’t think anyone’s falling for it.

  15. MBunge says:

    Let’s sum up. Bill Clinton didn’t get heath care reform passed. Ted Kennedy didn’t do it. Paul Wellstone didn’t do it. Barney Frank didn’t do it. Jimmy Carter didn’t do it. Bernie Sanders didn’t do it. Russ Feinigold didn’t do it. For 40 years or so, liberal politicians have been trying to reform the health care system and they all failed, sometimes spectacularly so.

    You know what that is? It’s what we grown up people call EVIDENCE. It’s evidence that reforming the health care system is far from the simple process you imagine in your childish arrogance.

    Now, if Barack Obama had given up on the public option and NOT passed health care reform, it would be entirely reasonable to rip him a new butthole. But Barack Obama succeeded where two generations of liberal politicians before him failed. He won the greatest progressive health care victory since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid. And you and other liberals responded to that victory like petulant children denied a candy bar by their father.

    As I said, I’ve never seen anything like it.

    Mike

  16. Tlaloc says:

    No, what Obama accomplished was not reform. What Obama accomplished was giving the insurance companies a huge payday while not changing a damn thing about their business except forcing us all to be customers. That’s not reform, that’s rewarding the worst actors in the whole mess.

    He won the greatest progressive health care victory since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid.

    You can keep saying it but it remains completely untrue. Medicare and Medicaid help people. The PPACA hurts people. Badly. I will not sit by while you lie and call that abomination of an act a progressive goal. If you want to own it, by all means, but kindly do it the hell away from us progressives. You aren’t wanted or needed.

    And please do enjoy the political fruits of your actions. It’ll be an important lesson to future dems that want to follow in Obama’s footsteps.

  17. An Interested Party says:

    It’ll be refreshing to go back to the state of things where it isn’t the dems destroying everything the left has worked for for decades.

    Really? I had no idea that the Dems were in favor of dismantling Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid…

    What does it say about you that you could be so terrified of the other party that you’d vote FOR such a despicable person?

    So, I take it, if you had been able to, you would have voted for Thomas E. Dewey in 1944 because FDR authorized the internment of Japanese-Americans? As for being terrified…does the thought of a solid 5-4 or 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court fill you with joy? What would such a Supreme Court do to everything that the left has worked decades for, hmm?

    Ha. Obama has succeeded wildly at proving that “socialism is wonderful until you run out of other people’s money”

    It is a wonder that the President has been able to get anything accomplished, with stupidity like the above coming from the right and his supposed “betrayal” of the left…

    …you propose it and then you pass it without a single republican vote if need be, and if any lieberman types complain you hammer them politically with how amazingly popular single payer is until they capitulate.

    And if Lieberman still doesn’t capitulate, what do you do then, throw magic dust in his face?

    And that was a terrible idea because the health industry is exactly the problem with health care in the US. Without getting rids of that there’s no hope of reform.

    No argument here, but still, it must be nice to simply wave a magic wand and get rid of entities like the health care industry…while you’re at it, make sure to get rid of the oil companies, all lobbyists, and the agribusiness complex, among many others…

  18. Tlaloc says:

    So, I take it, if you had been able to, you would have voted for Thomas E. Dewey in 1944 because FDR authorized the internment of Japanese-Americans

    I wouyldn’t vote for FDR. WOuld you? Knowing that he authorized an atrocity, that he roundly ignored human rights, no I wouldn’t vote for him. Why on earth would you? It’s not that much to ask that a president not have committed the greatest civil rights breech since slavery, is it?

    As for being terrified…does the thought of a solid 5-4 or 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court fill you with joy? What would such a Supreme Court do to everything that the left has worked decades for, hmm?

    Finish the job a little faster?

    You cannot scare me into supporting Obama. He’s pursuing a righty agenda. At best the right would pursue it a bit faster, but you know the wonderful thing? Once Obama is no longer defacto head of the party they can go back to actually opposing the right instead of sucking up to them.

    his supposed “betrayal” of the left…

    Tell you what you give me a list of his accomplishments and we’ll go down the list, kay?

    And if Lieberman still doesn’t capitulate, what do you do then, throw magic dust in his face?

    You twist his arm. You make his life hell. It’s politics. And when you;ve just won a huge electoral victory, are in the middle of a bad recession (and hence the populous is more disposed to populisrt measures) and you have 60% majorities in both houses, and the other side is wracked with scandal and has their brand in the toilet you have a hell of a lot of political power to throw around.

    If Obama can’t accomplish anything with all that why on earth re-elect him? He’ll be even weaker in his second term.

    No argument here, but still, it must be nice to simply wave a magic wand and get rid of entities like the health care industry…

    You don;t wave a magic wand. You bring them into a closed door meeting and you tell them point blank that in three years their business will not exist. then you tell them that if they play ball you’ll make it a nice orderly transition and they’ll e able to make a mint in the process. Frankly that’s all the executives care about- being able to have a soft landing. Then you tell them that if they try to make trouble you’ll do everything in your power to stir up a hungry angry populous that is just itching to blame someone against them.

    Meanwhile you task every agency you can think of to dig up every piece of dirt on the industry that can be used against them. Every case of recission against a grandmother, every dubious looking tax write off, every insinuation of illegal actions. Have it all ready to drip out to the media outlets in a never ending stream of bad news. The insurance companies already have one of the worst reps in business, people are willing to believe the very worst of them (with good reason). Then you start getting dirty.

    Is it ugly? hell yes. It’s low and and it’s underhanded and it’s politics, plain and simple. It’s how you actually get things done in a system that’s corrupt, and ours is surely that. But don’t bullsh*t me about it being impossible or requiring a magic wand. Obama had the power to put the fear of god into the insurance industry after his election. He just had no desire to.

  19. Ben Wolf says:

    @Mbunge:

    We know the president gave in on the public option at the beginning of health-care negotiations, then continued to publicly claim he would fight for its inclusion in the final bill. We know the insurance industry stated to the administration it would accept certain reforms in exchange for killing the public option and inclusion of the individual mandate. We know the insurance companies still have the right to eject citizens from their coverage if the company discovers the customer has committed fraud, a practice called recission whereby they go back through your medical records, determine you once were medicated for a cold you forgot to put on your application and then terminate your coverage just when you need that hip surgery (no doubt entirely by coincidence). Recission is without question the worst of industry abuses, and it continues.

    What we got was a program which forces me to become the customer of the same insurance companies which have been ripping us off for decades and have introduced very large premium increases since the PPACA’s passage, demonstrating the bill doesn’t do a damned thing to protect me from price gouging. Obama can take his health reform and eat it.

  20. MBunge says:

    @Ben Wolf: “What we got was a program”

    What we got was a program that guarantees people cannot be denied health insurance because of pre-existing conditions, in addition to many other policy changes liberals have wanted and dreamed about for years. Again, despite all childish, self-aggrandizing liberal whining to the contrary, Obama’s health care reform is the greatest progressive policy victory in over 40 years.

    Mike

  21. MBunge says:

    @Tlaloc: “You bring them into a closed door meeting and you tell them point blank that in three years their business will not exist.”

    Despite what Rush and Sean and Beck say, Barack Obama is not a dictator. He isn’t one, he shouldn’t act like one and, to his credit, doesn’t want to be one. Your pathetic desire for a Democrat who acts like the most cartoonish caricature of George W. Bush only further validates my entire point.

    But beyond the craven nature of your thinking, there’s also the fact that it’s stupid beyond measure. I mean, what do you think the health insurance industry does after being threatened by the President? Go back to their HQ’s and cower in terror?

    How many times do I have to make the same undisputed point? Barack Obama barely got his health insurance reform passed. Given the decades of failure before that, there is NO REASON to think a dramatically different or more expansive reform could have been passed in its place.

    Mike

  22. MBunge says:

    @Ben Wolf: “We know the insurance companies still have the right to eject citizens from their coverage if the company discovers the customer has committed fraud”

    Yeah, that pro-health care fraud message is really going to win the argument.

    Mike