The predicate for Obama winning reelection on Tuesday is that he replicates the strong Dem turnout that swept him into office in 2008. That election saw a greater percentage of young, minority and Hispanic voters than previous elections. It also saw one of the lowest turnouts of GOP voters in the modern political era. Every state or national poll showing Obama in the lead is based on the assumption that Obama can craft a similar turnout. Signs are increasing, however, that this assumption is a fantasy.
Politico talked to an Obama canvasser in Ohio, a state critical to Obama’s reelection:
Can the Democrat put his finger on the difference in energy in 2012?
“It’s hard to quantify, but there is significantly less enthusiasm,” said Roan. “I think there’s sort of grim determination on the part of some people, more than enthusiasm. … And it shows up in our volunteers. … We don’t have the number of young people volunteering like we did last time.”
This single statement captures the state of the race today. Virtually every poll, even those with ridiculous samples, have found the GOP with a big edge on enthusiasm. Pew recently released a survey showing Republicans with a 14-point advantage over Democrats on likely voting. In every state, Democrats are underperforming their early voting numbers from 2008.
The Dem hangover is showing up in rally attendance too. My colleague John Nolte reported that a recent Romney rally in Ohio attracted 30,000. At the same time, an Obama rally attracted just 2,800. This weekend, Obama held another rally in Cleveland, the Dem citadel in Ohio. Just 4,000 attended. Four years ago in Cleveland, Obama attracted a staggering 80,000.
Outside of polls by Quinnipiac, Marist and PPP, who all assume big Dem turnout, there are no signs that Obama will be able to “get the band back together” to win reelection. With a stalled economy, a litany of broken promises and a massive pile-up of debt, its understandable that Obama is having a hard time recapturing the magic of 2008.
2008 was one hell of a party for Dems. 2012 is looking more like a monster hangover.