Amidst hotly contested midterm election races voter enthusiasm is down among Americans. According to a recent Gallup poll of more than 1,500 adults in all 50 states, 53% of Americans are less enthusiastic than usual about voting and just 35% of Americans are more enthusiastic about voting than usual. That 18 point gap is the largest in recent history, including the 2010 midterm election that witnessed a record high number for voter enthusiasm. Among Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents, just 42% are more enthusiastic than usual about voting, compared to 50% who are less enthusiastic than usual. That 8 point deficit is small compared to the 23 point deficit among Democrats and Democrat-leaning Independents.
In 2010 Republicans voters were an astounding 62% more enthusiastic to vote than usual and just 28% were less enthusiastic to vote than usual, a net advantage of 34 points. Democrats, on the other hand, broke even with 44% being more enthusiastic to vote and 44% being less enthusiastic to vote than usual. The massive enthusiasm gap in 2010 resulted in the Republican takeover of the House. In 2006, voter enthusiasm numbers favored Democrats, at an advantage of 14% compared to Republicans’ meager 1%, as they went on to take control of the House. The precedent then tends to be that the party with a more enthusiastic base oftentimes wins the midterm election.
The Gallup survey also indicates that just 26% of Americans have given “quite a lot” or “some thought” to the midterm elections. This number tends to increase as the race gets closer and voters begin to decide for whom they will vote. At this point in 2010, the number of voters who had given “quite a lot” or “some thought” to midterm elections was much higher at 37%. However, this year’s number is right on track with 2006, in which just 28% of Americans had thought a considerable amount about the upcoming midterm elections.
Unlike 2010, the Republican voter enthusiasm is not staggering, so it remains to be seen if these numbers will result in a Republican advantage in both statewide and national races. However, given Democratic voter enthusiasm, or lack thereof, Republicans enjoy a fairly substantial 15 point net advantage. If the trend from the 2010 and 2006 elections continues, Republicans are in a solid position for a good midterm election performance.