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Gallup poll shows just how pumped Republicans are for midterms

About 59 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are ‘more enthusiastic than usual’ about voting in November than in previous elections, according to a new Gallup poll.

By Staff writer / June 21, 2010


We already knew the Republicans were pumped about the fall midterm elections. But a new Gallup poll shows just how big the enthusiasm gap is: An average 59 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are “more enthusiastic than usual” about voting in November than in previous elections, the highest such figure for either party in a midterm since Gallup started asking the question in 1994.

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Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters clock at 44 percent “more enthusiastic than usual” – not bad compared with previous midterm years. In 1994, when the Democrats lost control of the House for the first time in 40 years, only 32 percent of Democrats were enthusiastic. In 1998, Democratic enthusiasm came in at 36 percent, and in 2002, it was 38 percent.

In all three of those prior years, Republican enthusiasm was higher, and the GOP ended up doing better than the Democrats in the midterms.

“The enthusiasm question has generally provided an accurate indication of which party will fare better in the midterm elections,” Gallup analyst Jeffrey Jones writes.

The Gallup averages are based on four measures of enthusiasm taken since February. The USA Today/Gallup poll taken June 11-13 showed an enthusiasm gap that was particularly alarming for Democrats: Fifty-three percent of Republicans were more enthusiastic than usual, compared with 39 percent who were less enthusiastic. Among Democrats, 35 percent were more enthusiastic and 56 percent were less. The Republicans’ net positive of 14 percentage points, combined with the Democrats’ net negative of 21 points, makes for the largest relative party advantage for the GOP ever taken by Gallup in a single midterm-election-year poll.

But the Democrats, who currently enjoy large majorities in both houses of Congress, aren’t giving up. They fully expect to lose seats this fall, so the real question is how to limit the losses and prevent the Republicans from taking over either or both chambers. The Democratic National Committee is trying to build on its voter-registration success in 2008, particularly in terms of young and minority voters. But without President Obama on the ballot, the Democrats could have a hard time turning out the first-time voters of ’08, let alone new voters in 2010.