Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Two new polls show the same result: Voters favor Democrats over Republicans in the 2018 midterms by a wide margin -- but Republicans have more voter enthusiasm. One of these polls comes from The Washington Post and ABC:
A slight majority of registered voters — 52 percent — say they want Democrats to control the next Congress, while 38 percent favor Republican control to promote the president’s agenda, according to the poll.

Yet a surge in anti-Trump protests does not appear to have translated into heightened Democratic voter enthusiasm....

The Post-ABC poll shows that Republicans actually hold the advantage in enthusiasm at this early point in the campaign cycle. A 65 percent majority of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents say they are certain they will vote next year, versus 57 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents.
There are similar results in the latest Public Policy Polling survey. We're told,
Democrats have a 50/40 lead on the generic Congressional ballot.
However, Republicans are more excited about voting in 2018:

As are whites:

And older people (the poll makes clear that the young are more anti-Trump):

But this is a change since April, when a PPP survey showed a big Democratic enthusiasm advantage:
Democrats lead the generic Congressional ballot 47-41. But what's more notable is the enthusiasm imbalance. 63% of Democrats say they're 'very excited' about voting in the 2018 election, compared to only 52% of Republicans who express that sentiment.
So according to PPP, the Democrats' advantage on the generic ballot question has increased -- but Democrats' big enthusiasm advantage has disappeared.

I'm not sure why that happened. My guess is that in April many Democrats thought America was on the verge of totalitarian dictatorship, or at least a swift extreme-right upending of the status quo -- but now President Trump just seems inept and ineffectual. We shouldn't be complacent, but I suspect that while many Democrats continue to be engaged and active, others are losing interest in politics.

What's important to note is that Republicans are maintaining a level of enthusiasm. They usually do -- politics is entertainment for conservative voters, because right-wing media outlets carefully nurse grievances and sustain outrage, whether or not we're in an election season. A smaller percentage of Democrats are politically engaged all the time.

Trump also keeps GOP voters engaged -- every morning's tweetstorm is a mini-campaign rally. Elected Democrats aren't visible on MSNBC prime time, but for the vast majority of Democratic voters who aren't watching MSNBC at night, Democratic officeholders are largely invisible

But we're a year away from the 2018 campaigns. The president and the GOP Congress are likely to do (or try to do) many more terrible things. The Trump-Russia revelations won't stop, and it will be obvious that Trump is evading justice because he's being protected by congressional Republicans. Also, it's possible that some of the Republican enthusiasm will lead to punishing primary campaigns against GOP incumbents who are deemed insufficiently purist.

So there's plenty of reason to hope. But for now, Democratic engagement is fading a bit.

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