Minority and young voters made a significant mark on the 2008 presidential election with their high turnout; today, however, these groups appear to have reverted to previous levels of interest in voting in the context of midterm elections. Most notably, in contrast to 2008, when whites and blacks were about equally likely to say they were giving “quite a lot of” or “some” thought to the presidential election, whites are much more likely than blacks to be thinking about the 2010 elections: 42% vs. 25%, a gap exceeding those from recent midterm elections.
So much for the notion that measures unpopular with the rest of the electorate (e.g. ObamaCare) could stir up the base in sufficient numbers to offset the opposition that Obama was creating.
Recall also that the punditocracy has been saying that Republicans need to run on a specific platform to win. There is good reason to have a conservative reform agenda (especially if Republicans get control of one or two houses of Congress), but it doesn’t at this stage appear to be critical to beating the Democrats. Again, Gallup tells us:
The Republicans’ lead in the congressional generic ballot over the past month may be due as much to voters’ rejecting the Democrats as embracing the Republicans. Among voters backing Republican candidates, 44% say their preference is “more a vote against the Democratic candidate,” while 48% say it is “more a vote for the Republican candidate.” …
The 44% of Republican voters who say they are voting more against the Democratic candidate exceeds the level of negative voting against the incumbent party that Gallup measured in the 1994 and 2006 elections, when party control shifted (from the Democrats to the Republicans after the 1994 elections and from the Republicans to the Democrats after the 2006 elections).
In short, Obama’s extreme agenda has whipped up a ferocious backlash without exciting his own supporters. (Just as conservative critics warned.) The result will be a more conservative electorate with one goal in mind: kick the Democrats out. There is simply no way Republicans could have achieved this on their own.