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Posted by on Oct 23, 2010 in Politics | 0 comments

Newsweek: Democrats Closing the Enthusiasm Gap?

Is this yet another instance of the up again down again media narrative that often marks big stories? Amid predictions that the Democrats are going to lose the House — and lose big — and others that there is an outside chance the GOP could secure the Senate, Newsweek has a story that says Barack Obama’s poll numbers are up. And that the Democrats are closing the enthusiasm gap:

Despite doom-saying about Democrats’ chances in the midterms, the latest NEWSWEEK Poll (full results) shows that they remain in a close race with Republicans 12 days before Election Day, while the president’s approval ratings have climbed sharply. The poll finds that 48 percent of registered voters would be more likely to vote for Democrats, compared with 42 percent who lean Republican (those numbers are similar to those in the last NEWSWEEK Poll, which found Democrats favored 48 percent to 43 percent).

President Obama’s approval ratings have jumped substantially, crossing the magic halfway threshold to 54 percent, up from 48 percent in late September, while the portion of respondents who disapprove of the president dropped to 40 percent, the lowest disapproval rating in a NEWSWEEK Poll since February 2010. However, his approval rating, which is notably higher than many recent polls of the president’s popularity, may be evidence of a closing “enthusiasm gap” more than a sea change in voter attitudes, and may not substantially affect Democrats’ fortunes come Election Day. In 1994, NEWSWEEK Polls showed a similar steep climb in President Clinton’s approval between late September and late October, but Democrats still suffered a rout in the midterms.
While two thirds (69 percent) of self-identified Republican voters say they’ve given a lot or some thought to the election, 62 percent of Democrats say they have. This result indicates that the difference in enthusiasm between Democratic and Republican voters may be less stark than some other polls have suggested. A small plurality of registered voters—48 to 43 percent—would prefer that Democrats keep control of Congress. (The poll’s margin of error is 4.3 percent.) The new survey also offers a morsel of evidence that Democrats’ strategy of gaining an edge among early voters might be succeeding. They hold a 10-point lead among those who have already voted, 52 points to 42, but because the sample only represents 92 voters out of the 1,005 polled, Hugick says more polling is necessary for a conclusive picture. Early voting—which has steadily gained popularity in recent years—is expected to have an impact on the election, with three in 10 voters expected to cast ballots before Nov. 2.

It’s an interesting take but needs to be put into context:
–Most polls show the Democrats are in big trouble and that even some Democrats are now concluding they will lose the House.

–Forget the partisan advocate Dick Morris and some other pundits with a political vested interest, follow the University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato. And Sabato’s basic forecast has not changed: the Democrats will likely lose the House.

–Sabato has also noted how the close you get to an election, the more the media finds new dramatic twists when oftentimes the races are basically over. This is not due to any big conspiracy or falsification. It’s looking to see if there is a new angle. It’s not trying to pursue a political line it’s along the lines of “OK, now what’s the newest twist in this story?”

–The infusion of special GOP-sympathetic groups’ megabucks into the campaign could offset any late awakening of many Democrats. The real story of 2010 is the role of big bucks unidentified money from outside groups. If this role continues, then there will have been a major shift in our political system.

–Most likely the Democrats will lose the House and after the election those who didn’t vote will complain bitterly about actions the new Republican majority takes or doesn’t take. But the consequences of sitting on your hands include more than your hands being warmer..