Saturday, November 28, 2009

Enthusiasm Gap

Numbers from the latest DK/Research2K tracking poll on "likely" (first number) and "unlikely" (second number) voters by party ID:

Republican Voters: 81/14
Independent Voters: 65/23
Democratic Voters: 56/40
And fundraising numbers, via a USA Today report:
The Democratic National Committee, along with the fundraising arm for House Democrats, outraised Republican committees last month. Overall, all Democratic committees ended October with nearly $38.8 million cash on hand, compared with $21.3 million for Republicans.
The first set of numbers point to a rough 2010 for Democrats. I'm hearing a lot of explanation, but the two most prominent and logical seem to be a combination of disappointment over delays on health care reform, Gitmo closings, and stalled cap-and-trade legislation, paired with a general sense from less dissatisfied Democrats that they "got the job done" in 2008, and are now resting back.

But the second set of numbers paints a different story. 2010 will be a GOTV midterm, assuredly. And Tea Baggers will be out in full force, but so far, they aren't opening their wallets or inspiring other Republicans to do so. They'll come out to cast their angry, irrational votes, babbling nonsense and debunked conspiracy theories while they pull the lever, but if they stay at the forefront of Republican Party messaging, they may serve as a boon, not boost. The parity and detachment from reality they embody can be used to waken "resting" Democrats, still riding the 2008 victory high. The "likely" voter numbers should cause concern, but contrasted with the fundraising numbers and the likely 2010 rhetoric of GOP candidates nationwide, there's no reason to panic. Yet.

If the GOP keeps Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin in an increasing spotlight, dumbs down their own candidate field with purity tests and head stomping the moderates, we may see that 3-to-1 fundraising advantage for Democrats manifest as a voter turnout advantage. Disappointment over reform delays and weak cap-and-trade legislation won't keep Democrats from the polls if candidates and state parties can tie turnout to combating tea-baggery.

We can call it the "Vote Against Crazy" movement.

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