New Gallup poll shows Dems downbeat going into 2012

The poll also finds that since 2008, the number of those who identify themselves as Democratic or Democratic-leaning in the swing states has gone down by 4 percentage points, while self-proclaimed Republicans are up by 5 percentage points.

Now it shouldn't be surprising that Republicans are paying more attention (68 percent of the R's vs. 48 percent of the D's) to the campaign, since it's dominating TV news, with the candidates appearing together for 17 presidential debates this year.

But the index of voter enthusiasm — which has proven to be extremely accurate in recent wave elections (2006, ’08 and ’10) — is coming up very positive for Republicans this December.

Of groups in the survey listed as "most enthused" about voting for president next year, leading the way with 61 percent are conservative Republicans, 60 percent of men 50 years and older, and 54 percent of those aged between 50-64.

Among those listed as "least enthused" are young voters, listed as 18-34 years of age, where only 32 percent appear excited. Of non-whites, only 31 percent are enthused, and just 35 percent of moderate/conservative Democrats say their enthusiastic.

What that means for President Obama is that he may need more independents and less of his base to thread the needle in terms of the electoral college.

The USA Today story quotes Lanae Erickson of the Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank that recently released a study tracking trends in voter registration in battleground states.
"This time, it's going to be much, much closer, and in a closer race those independents are going to put him over the top," Erickson said.

The Third Way's report is about the voters who they say will decide the 2012 election — what they call the "droppers" and the "switchers." The droppers were those Obama voters from 2008 who stayed home in 2010, while the "switchers" are those who flipped to the GOP last year. The authors of the study, Erickson and Jim Erickson, write that for Obama and congressional Democrats to win in 2012, "droppers must show up and a large number of switchers must return to the fold in 2012. "

They write (these are centrists, mind you) that for that to happen, Democrats need to position themselves as "growth Democrats, not tax and spend Democrats."

Meanwhile, the Obama presidential campaign is doing lots of solid work building up their infrastructure for the general election. The past two weekends here in Ybor City, they've held trainings on registering new voters (banning reporters from observing their trade secrets) and look geared to put on as professional an effort as they did in 07-08. They may even have as much money, if not more (we've previously discounted the idea that Obama will raise $1 billion in this election cycle, but they'll be close enough), but it will be impossible to recapture that wild-eyed enthusiasm that some of their fervent supporters felt the first time around in 2008.

But giving the base more speeches like he gave in Osawatomie, Kansas, last week, in which he echoed the sentiments of the OWS movement, earning him praise from progressives like Robert Reich (who called it Obama's most important economics speech yet) may be the ticket to igniting that passion within.

A USA TODAY/Gallup Swing States Poll is filled with interesting survey numbers, but the aggregate isn't at all good for Democrats looking ahead to what may occur in 2012.

In a nutshell, the national survey of 12 battleground states (which of course includes Florida) shows Republican voters to be more attentive to the campaign, more enthusiastic about the election and more convinced that the outcome matters.

If 2010 is your guide, you have to wonder when Democratic voters will begin to start feeling similarly engaged.

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