An average of 59% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents have said they are more enthusiastic than usual about voting this year compared with past elections, the highest average Gallup has found in a midterm election year for either party since the question was first asked in 1994.
The prior high for a party group was 50% more enthusiastic for Democrats in 2006, which is the only one of the last five midterm election years in which Democrats have had an enthusiasm advantage. In that election, Democrats won back control of the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time since 1994. . . Republicans’ net score of +14 more enthusiastic in the latest poll compared with the Democrats’ net score of -21 represents the largest relative party advantage Gallup has measured in a single midterm election-year poll.
We’ll see if this phenomenon lasts through the fall, but for now, it seems that the Republicans’ decision to oppose Obama and his agenda at every turn — rather than accommodating it and splitting the differences — was precisely the right strategy. The GOP’s base is energized; the Democrats’ base is demoralized. Democrats who stuck with Obama and who hoped liberal support would emerge to counteract the tide of opposition from angry conservatives and independents will, I suspect, look back upon that decision (a career-ender in some cases) with regret.