In the context of polls, the enthusiasm gap manifests itself through likely voter models. Over the past month or so, the typical likely voter poll has projected a Republican turnout advantage of about 6 points, relative to the number of registered voters ....
The enthusiasm gap could mean one of two things:
It could mean that Democrats were particularly unenthusiastic, relative to a typical midterm election year -- whereas Republican enthusiasm was about average. That would produce an enthusiasm gap, and would tell us a story about a depressed (or dissatisfied, or complacent) Democratic base.
Or, it could mean that Republicans were unusually excited about the elections, while Democratic enthusiasm was just at par. That would also produce an enthusiasm gap. But it would be much more a story about Republican excitement than one about disarray in the Democratic base.
In fact, it's the latter explanation that seems to hold this year. The enthusiasm gap has more to do with abnormally high levels of Republican interest in the election than with despondent Democrats.
Gallup periodically asks a question about whether voters are more enthusiastic than usual about voting in the midterms. When they did so in March, shortly after passage of the health care bill, 57 percent of Democrats said they were more excited than usual about voting in the November elections. This was, in fact, the highest figure that Gallup had ever recorded among Democrats in a midterm year (they began tracking the question in 1994). The problem for Democrats? Some 69 percent of Republicans also answered the question affirmatively.
Well, I think the thing that motivates me most is a fundamental belief in the individual. The individual, not the collective and not the state, is what matters. It's about protecting the rights, dignity and potential of every single human being. In my office, I have two photographs; one is of Martin Luther King and the other is of Ayn Rand.
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