Dem Voters: Not Scared Enough

| Fri Jul. 2, 2010 9:13 AM EDT

A new Pew Research Center poll confirms the yawning enthusiasm gap between Republican and Democratic voters this year—a difference that's becoming all the more worrisome for Democrats as the midterm elections creep closer. The GOP has a large advantage among older voters, who are far more likely to come out to the polls this fall than younger voters, the vast majority of whom vote Democratic. The result?

Fully 56 percent of Republican voters say they are more enthusiastic about voting this year than in previous elections—the highest percentage of GOP voters expressing increased enthusiasm about voting in midterms dating back to 1994. While enthusiasm among Democratic voters overall is on par with levels in 2006, fewer liberal Democrats say they are more enthusiastic about voting than did so four years ago (52 percent then, 37 percent today).

The Republican Party now holds about the same advantage in enthusiasm among its party’s voters that the Democratic Party held in June 2006 and the GOP had late in the 1994 campaign.

Though this trend is nothing new, the Pew findings give another clue as to why Democrats are still falling short. Almost three-fourths of Republican and GOP-leaning voters expect the GOP to do better than it has in recent years—which is also the prevailing sentiment among politicos, analysts, and pollsters across the board. But Democratic voters don't seem to share the same fears—and half of them expect the party to do the same as they had in recent elections:

However, Democratic voters this year are not particularly pessimistic about the election: 29 percent expect the Democrats to do better in this year’s midterm, far more than the percentage of GOP voters who said that four years ago (16 percent). Nearly half of Democratic voters (48 percent) expect the party to do about the same this fall as in recent elections, while just 18 percent say it will do worse.

Palm smacks forehead. The reality is that Democrats are expected to bleed anywhere between 30 and 40 seats in the House, losing their majority, as well as five to seven seats in the Senate, which could make it impossible for them to overcome a GOP filibuster. A number of major governorship are up for grabs as well. All of this will most definitely give Republicans a much stronger hand in obstructing Obama and the Democratic agenda—and will give them far more authority to impose their agenda on the country. Elections have consequences. And, yes, Democratic voters should be very, very afraid.

But Dem supporters don’t seem to realize how far the pendulum could swing in the other direction. And it’s clear that the Democratic Party is failing to communicate what’s really at stake in this year’s elections.

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