If you’ve noted a general tendency to ignore the run for the presidency and all the nonsense that includes here at QandO, you’re an astute observer. It’s just silly right now, especially on the Republican side. Cain is up, Cain is down. Romney is the front runner, Romney is an also ran. Paul is a side show, Paul surges. Gingrich is out of it, Gingrich is the man.
When all the dust settles I’ll renew my interest. However, all of what has been happening has had an effect. Gallup reports:
Republicans’ enthusiasm about voting in the election for president next year has decreased, with 49% of Republicans and independents who lean Republican now saying they are more enthusiastic than usual about voting, down from 58% in September. This narrows the gap between them and Democrats, 44% of whom are more enthusiastic than usual, essentially the same as in September.
Of course the mitigating circumstances are outlined in my lede. Without a single nominee and with the daily barrage of negativity, voters are turning off. That doesn’t mean they won’t turn back on when that nominee is named (regardless of which of the bunch he is) as Gallup further notes:
The decrease in Republicans’ enthusiasm could reflect the intensive and bruising battle for the GOP nomination going on within the party, and the rapid rise and fall of various candidates in the esteem of rank-and-file Republicans nationwide. Once the Republican nominee is determined next year, Republicans’ voting enthusiasm may steady, but whether this is at a high, medium, or low level remains to be seen.
But this is a key component of predicting who will eventually win the White House so stay tuned to this particular poll on enthusiasm throughout the campaign.
Meanwhile, before Democrats start celebrating the narrowing of the gap (even temporarily), they may want to consider this next poll:
President Obama’s uphill battle to re-election is getting steeper.
A report released today by the centrist think-tank Third Way showed that more than 825,000 voters in eight key battleground states have fled the Democratic Party since Obama won election in 2008.
“The numbers show that Democrats’ path to victory just got harder,” said Lanae Erickson, the report’s co-author. “We are seeing both an increase in independents and a decrease in Democrats and that means the coalition they have to assemble is going to rely even more on independents in 2012 than it did in 2008.”
Amid frustrating partisan gridlock and unprecedentedly low party-approval ratings, the number of voters registering under a major party is falling fast, but it is also falling disproportionately.
Of course the flight of independents from Democrats has been noted for quite some time. Fewer and fewer are identifying with or leaning toward the Democratic side.
“People are frustrated and the way you tune out in American politics is that is you drop the label of the two parties,” said Steven Jarding, a Harvard public policy professor and Democratic campaign strategist. “The danger for Obama in this is he is not only going to have to capture them but capture more of them because there are less Democratic voters.”
So Jarding has a grasp of the obvious. Good. He then says:
“On paper, it looks like, ‘Well, it’s just going to be bad for Obama,’ but a part of me says, ‘Bad in what sense?’ He’s proven that he can get independent voters,” Jarding said.
He’s proven he can get independent votes with no resume and nothing but an emotionally appealing campaign based on absurd promises and bashing an unpopular president.
Now he’s the guy with the negative approval rating and a record he has to defend. Whole different ballgame. Whole different stadium. It is more than a problem “on paper”.
“People are very, very disillusioned and the danger for Obama is when people are disillusioned and when they are hurting they tend to throw the guy in power out,” Jarding said. “If Obama can’t turn out the vote that he did in 2008, he’s in trouble.”
He’s in trouble, which, for the most part, is a good thing.