The GOP Choice: Now With Added Science!

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Last night I suggested that whenever Republicans do something that excites their tea party base, it scares off independent voters and actually helps Democrats. But all I did was eyeball a couple of Gallup charts to come up with this theory. Political scientist Phil Klinkner decided to run some numbers, which he emailed to me:

I correlated partisan levels of enthusiasm with independents’ support for Democrats in the generic ballot. Here are the results:

Dem Enthusiasm -0.05
Ind Enthusiasm -0.1
Rep Enthusiasm .17

So, Democratic and Independent enthusiasm has no relationship with Indendents’ generic ballot preferences. On the other hand, as Republicans become more enthusiastic, Independent support for the Democrats goes up.

This may be the key to a Democratic victory. Get Republicans so ramped up that they drive Independents into the D column. A quick estimate says that if 100 percent of the GOP is very enthusiastic about voting, then Independents will favor the Democrats by 3 points, in which case the Democrats should win by about 11 points.

Phil goes on to joke that Democrats should “buy blocks of TV time and give them free of charge to Joe Wilson, Michele Bachmann, and Mark Williams.” In any case, I just wanted to let everyone know that my gut feel is now Backed Up By Science™.

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If you're new to Mother Jones or aren't yet sold on supporting our nonprofit reporting, please take a moment to read Monika Bauerlein's post about our priorities after these chaotic several years, and why this relatively quiet moment is also an urgent one for our democracy and Mother Jones’ bottom line—and if you find it compelling, please join us.

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