With voters depressed over the economy, upset with Obamacare and greatly disapproving of President Obama, Democrats are in a sweat over lackluster voter turnout in November when control of the Senate will be up for grabs.
New polling shows that Republicans are super-charged at getting a chance to vote against Democrats and Obama while two key Democratic voting groups, unmarried women and younger Americans, are checking out of the process.
“Turnout will be a major test for Democrats,” said pollster Celinda Lake. She called new polling data showing a 64 percent to 57 percent enthusiasm gap between Republicans and Democrats “pretty sobering.”
In midterm elections, Democrats typically lag Republicans in intensity by 10-15 points, but the gap is 17 points, she said.
A new George Washington University Battleground Poll, for example, found that just 36 percent of voters 18-29 are “extremely likely” to vote in the midterm elections. It's 38 percent for single women. Both were key Obama support groups in his two presidential elections.
The voter enthusiasm gap played out in the recent special election in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, where the GOP surprised the Democrats with an effective get-out-the-vote program — and victory.
Adding to the Democratic woes is the historic pattern of losses in the president’s party during his sixth year and just the fact that Obama isn’t on the ballot. “There is a huge turnout disadvantage and challenge,” said Lake, adding, “there is always a challenge in turnout in an off year, but it’s really dramatic this time.”
Worse, she said, as Democrats give up hopes of winning back the House to save the Senate, there is growing concerns that the GOP could hit House Democrats starved of money.
There is hope, however, and it is in the form of a broader middle class economic agenda than the White House is currently pushing, Lake advised.
In the poll, a majority disapprove of Obama’s handling of the economy, his ability to solve problems, and his effort to create jobs. To turn that around, Lake and others are encouraging the White House to bring before America a “more muscular bigger economic agenda” that also woos small businesses.Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.