The Voter Enthusiasm Gap
44% of Republicans strongly disapprove of President Biden's performance while only 22% of Democrats strongly approve.
CNN editor-at-large Chris Cillizza points to “One number that should worry every Democrat in Virginia.”
Just days before the crucial Virginia governor’s election, there appears to be a passion gap between the parties that should worry every Democrat looking at the race as a harbinger of things to come in 2022.
The top-line numbers in a new Washington Post-Schar School poll suggest that the race between former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and businessman Glenn Youngkin (R) is a toss-up. McAulliffe is at 49% to Youngkin’s 48% among likely voters.
But dig into the numbers a bit and you find something concerning for Democrats.
Overall, 46% of likely voters approve of the job Joe Biden is doing as President, while 53% disapprove. Which isn’t terrible — although both Biden and McAuliffe would prefer if those numbers were reversed.
The problem becomes more apparent when you look at those who “strongly” approve of Biden’s performance in office and, conversely, those who “strongly” disapprove of how he’s done.
Biden’s strong approval number is 21%. His strong disapproval number? 44%. That’s more than double because, well, math.
What those “strong” numbers generally indicate is base engagement and enthusiasm. And what those numbers, in particular, tell us is that Republicans are far more motivated at the moment than Democrats.
Yesterday, I pointed to a Fox poll showing Youngkin pulling ahead and noted that, since some 900,000 Virginians had already voted, late swings may not matter all that much. But the race has definitely tightened and in Youngkin’s direction.
Still, I’m not sure the enthusiasm gap is all that surprising. The electorate remains incredibly polarized. Republicans, naturally, are quite unhappy with Biden and his attempts to push through a massive expansion of the social safety net. Democrats, meanwhile, are naturally discouraged that, nine months into the administration, their party has not managed to pass any of Biden’s major campaign promises into law.
Ultimately, it’s simply easier to be united in opposition to something than in support of something.