Patterico's Pontifications


GOP Debate: Open Thread

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:33 pm

I was out all night last night, but apparently there was another debate.

What did you think?

P.S. Word is Perry did better than in previous performances, while people piled on Gingrich.

Did any of it make any difference?

Curb Your Enthusiasm?

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 7:16 am

[Posted by Karl]

Gallup‘s Frank Newport 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.

However, there are several reasons to not panic about the current level of GOP enthusiasm.

First, Republicans still maintain an enthusiasm gap consistent with the GOP controlled years of 2000-04. 

Second, Gallup is polling this question earlier than in past cycles, so the comparison is not apples-to-apples. 

Third, as Newport 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.”  This theory, which I think is related to second point, finds support in Newt Gingrich’s current front-runner status.  It is more difficult for Republican voters to be enthsiastic during the part of the campaign where the candidates are focusing on each other’s negatives.  Although Gingrich is having to go a bit negative now that he’s at the top, he got there in part by not criticizing rivals whose voters he wanted and by bashing debate moderators for encouraging intramural fights (even though that’s what a nomination campaign is).

Fourth, Gallup has previously noted it has “less historical data on the ‘more enthusiastic than usual about voting’ question, and thus far, it has not established a strong link between enthusiasm and voter turnout.”  Although it seems intuitive that such a link should exist, and the more enthusiastic side does seem to do better in elections, enthusiasm does seem to have its limits as a predictor.  Dem pollster Mark Mellman noted this before the 2010 midterm:

One final piece of evidence on the relevance of enthusiasm to turnout is provided by George Mason Professor Michael McDonald, who noted that the 62 percent who told Gallup they were enthusiastic about voting in this year’s election was “the highest level of enthusiasm among registered voters in a midterm election since Gallup began asking this question in October 1994. 

The next highest level was recorded at 49 percent in a June 2006 poll, a difference of 13 percentage points.” Moreover, that 62 percent is on par with responses in presidential years. Indeed, it is just seven points lower than the level of enthusiasm expressed before the 2008 presidential election and almost 20 points higher than that leading into the 2000 presidential. 

Anybody want to bet that turnout in this midterm will be higher than in the 2000 presidential?

Although 2010 was a good year for the GOP, that would have been a bad bet — turnout was lower in 2010 than in 2000, both in raw numbers and (more significantly) in the percentage of voting-age turnout.  Indeed, by the second measure, 2010 turnout was below the GOP wave year of 1994.  This point goes to overall turnout, rather than the enthusiasm gap between the parties, but ask yourself whether that gap — even in a wave year like 1994 — is itself a residual effect of the economy.


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