For the past few weeks, conservatives have been contending that polls giving Obama a substantial margin have done so largely by oversampling Democrats. The most recent CNN poll, for example, favored Democrats by 8 points. In 2008, a year very favorable to the president’s party. Democratic was only 7 points higher than Republican turnout.
This year, most serious pollsters forecast a much narrower Democratic margin. Scott Rasmussen thinks Democrats will likely have a 2-4 point advantage this November. I tend to think it will be loser to 2 points, but sometimes I wonder if Republicans will run even with Democrats, each party’s partisans making up a near identical portion of the electorate.
The last time this happened in a presidential race was 2004 when “Republicans managed to turn out their base at ‘supercharged’ levels.” Republicans weren’t the only ones eager to vote that year. Democrats were eager to evict George W. Bush from the White House.
Family members reported high school friends returning to Cincinnati to canvass for John Kerry. Democrats were motivated to vote and doing what they could to get their vote out. They were not depressed or otherwise, dispirited. They wanted to win; they thought they could win.
Given that in 2004, when both parties were motivated, turnout was even, I wonder sometimes if we could see a similar pattern this year.
Let me submit a few facts for your candid consideration:
- Republican enthusiasm is way up, with most surveys showing it even with — or greater than — Democratic enthusiasm. (In 2008, Democrats were enthusiastic, Republicans dispirited.)
- We see that particularly in the abundance of Romney-Ryan yard signs and bumper stickers in swing states. (And not just swing states.) (Does the drop in the number of Obama bumper stickers indicate a decline in Democratic enthusiasm?)
- “Scott Rasmussen“, John Hinderaker reminds us, “finds that more voters identify themselves as Republicans than Democrats“.
- In a parallel development, we learn that since 2008, the Democratic registration advantage has shrunk considerably “in several key swing states“. Fox News recently reported “that a recent study by a left-leaning think tank, Third Way, shows a precipitous decline in voters registering as Democrat in key swing states.” (Latter link via Elizabeth Price Foley blogging at Instapundit.)
- The Republicans have a much better ground game to get out the vote than they did in 2008.
Now, the Democrats also have a good ground game. There are many people eager to vote for Barack Obama. They should be able to get their base out.
That said, we do seem to have the ingredients in place for a “supercharged” Republican turnout again this year. I’m not saying Republican turnout is going to be even with Democratic turnout, but am suggesting that it is within the realm of possibility.