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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Turnout Rumblings

As we inch closer to the November 2010 elections, some of the early indicia affecting turnout are showing remarkable numbers predictive of an unusually high turnout for a midterm election.
Now it should come as no great surprise that when asked by USA Today/Gallup if they are “more enthusiastic than usual” about voting in November, 69% of Republicans respond affirmatively. This comports with the general sense that Republicans are getting ready to joyfully snake dance to the polls in November to get rid of the socialist usurpers in Washington and restore the natural order of things. But as Nate Silver has pointed out, the same survey shows 57% of Democrats expressing unusual enthusiasm as well–a higher percentage than ever registered before a midterm by voters in either party, until now.
At pollster.com, turnout guru Michael McDonald of George Mason University stares at the data and suggests we could be seeing a historic turnout rates this November, since overall enthusiasm levels are about where they were two years ago. He’s pretty sure turnout will exceed that of the last midterm election, in 2006, which was considered a very good turnout year by historic standards.
Normally high overall turnout in a midterm election would be good news for Democrats, but turnout predictions based on voter enthusiasm must note the advantage GOPers have on that measurement. We’ll see if conservative excitement about November can be sustained at its current high-pitch chattering whine, and if Democrats can maintain or increase their own level of engagement.

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