The presidential debates this month not only allowed Mitt Romney to break through the caricature of him painted by Obama and the media, they breathed life into the GOP base. At the end of the summer conventions, Democrat voters expressed more interest in the election than Republicans. According to new research from Pew, however, the Democrats' advantage evaporated in October. With less than two weeks to go, the GOP has a substantial lead in voter enthusiasm.
At the close of the two parties' conventions, 66% of Democrats said they were interested in the coming election, against just 50% of Republicans. Today, however, the same 66% of Democrats express interest, but GOP interest has rocketed to 73%, a 23-point movement. Moreover, Independents' interest in the election has also increased markedly, rising from 45% in September to 56% today. Virtually every poll shows Romney with the advantage among Independents.
Democrats interest in the current election is substantially off levels seen in 2008. In October, 2008, 80% of Democrats expressed an interest in the election, a full 14 points higher than seen today. Republican interest, meanwhile, is up slightly. In 2008, 70% of GOP voters were interested in the election; today 73% are.
Interestingly, in 2008, 62% of GOP voters said the campaign was too long. This year, only 42% of GOP voters say the campaign is too long. This just proves that things are more fun when you sense you're winning.
This is yet another bit of data for why the electorate this year won't look anything like the electorate in 2008. Four years ago, Democrats had a considerable edge over the GOP on voter enthusiasm. This year, that edge is reversed. In 2008, Democrats had a 10-point advantage over the GOP in enthusiasm. The electorate that year bore that out, with Democrats racking up their largest advantage in turnout in decades. The Democrats' turnout advantage over the GOP was 7 points.
This year, however, the GOP has a 7 point edge over Democrats in enthusiasm. Worse for Democrats, they've seen exactly zero movement in enthusiasm throughout October. Its conceivable that the GOP's advantage will increase even further as the powerful force of momentum kicks in.
Every media poll using 2008 turnout as a baseline for this year's election is peddling a fantasy. Romney has fired up the GOP base with his debate performances. With less than two weeks to go, the momentum is on his side.
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