In his post on how Obamacare is threatening the careers of Democratic politicians, Michael Barone reminds us of a truth about polling which tells us a lot about the dire straits of Democrats this fall, “it’s highly unusual for an incumbent House member to trail a challenger in any poll or to run significantly below 50 percent.”
And we have many Democratic incumbents — not just in the House — polling well below 50. Couple that with the enthusiasm factor. Doug Powers alerts us to another poll which shows us just how dispirited Democrats are this fall:
Nearly two years after putting Obama in the White House, one-quarter of those who voted for the Democrat are defecting to the GOP or considering voting against the party in power this fall. Just half of them say they definitely will show up Nov. 2, according to an Associated Press-Knowledge Networks poll released two weeks before Obama’s first midterm elections. . . . . McCain voters — to borrow Obama’s campaign rallying cry — are far more “fired up, ready to go.” Two-thirds say they are certain to vote next month.
(Though some McCain voters may be voting Democratic!)
But, how do you measure this enthusiasm gap? Over at fivethirtyeight, Nate Silver, a master of statistics, has so tinkered with polls, surveys, fundraising totals, etc., etc., that he has this all down to a science, forecasting down to the nearest decimal just how many Republicans and Democrats will win election next month.
And while I admire his effort, you can’t really measure voter enthusiasm with a slide rule or computer algorithm. And voter enthusiasm may be the key factor in determining who shows up to vote next month–and thus how many seats the GOP picks up.
Back in 2002, I learned last night, the last Field Poll in the California gubernatorial contest showed then-(soon-to-be-recalled) Governor Gray Davis with an 11-point leader over his Republican challenger Bill Simon. His final margin come Election Day was less than half that–just under 5 points.
People just didn’t want to go out and vote for Gray Davis. I think Democrats this year will suffer from a similar problem. People just can’t get enthusiastic about candidates like Dick Blumenthal, Patty Murray, Jerry Brown, Barbara Boxer, Harry Reid, Alex Sink and Chris Coons while they can, in many cases, get fired up about their opponents. Couple that with opposition party’s base being more more fired up than that of the party in power.
Will it count for 6-points as it did in the 2002 California gubernatorial election?
Possibly, but we don’t really know. Davis had a whole host of problems, more so than many of the above candidates. His entire campaign was a negative one. All that said, given the discrepancy between polls and the final result in California in 2002, perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised if a candidate who’s five points behind in the final poll ends up on top when Election Day rolls round.