Organizing for America and the “Enthusiasm Gap”

The 2010 election 

WASHINGTON — Democrats desperately need other Democrats – to vote. – Liz Sidoti, of the Huffington Post 

The 2010 Senate elections are barely a month away, and Democrats across the country are getting worried. 

In a new poll released last month by Public Policy Polling, Quantifying the Enthusiasm Gap, pollsters have found that in 10 key Senate and gubernatorial races across the country, Republicans are leading by wider margins. 

Although the country is more or less split in half between Republican and Democratic party supporters when all eligible voters are asked (about 43% for both, according to the latest NBC/WSJ poll), when likely voters are polled, the Republicans take a substantial lead by roughly 9 points. 

“We have two ways of looking at the enthusiasm gap,” Public Policy Polling’s Tom Jensen said in an interview with Evan McMorris-Santoro. “Measuring whether voters are very, somewhat, or not at all excited about voting this fall, and then a step beyond that looking at how they voted for President in 2008. 

“”We’re consistently finding that very excited voters are going strongly toward the GOP while somewhat and not at all excited voters are supporting Democrats.” To readers of the Trial by Fire, this should be no surprise. Obama’s administration and the Democratic Party have made good on very little of what they promised during their campaigns, and formerly hysteric supporters of these campaigns are beginning to realize that the rhetoric of change the Democrats harp on is just that – rhetoric. 

After four years of Democratic Party control of the Congress, and nearly two years into Obama’s Presidency, the Democrats are beginning to lose their base’s support.Deputy National Director of Organizing for America, Obama’s re-mobolized campaign organization, Jeremy Bird, remains hopeful, however: 

“The past week alone has shown clear signs the enthusiasm-gap theory made popular by the chattering class is overblown. On Tuesday, President Obama kicked off the first of five “Moving America Forward” events with a rally at the University of Wisconsin in Madison “Dwarfing a February 2008 rally on the same campus that drew a crowd of 17,000, last week’s Madison rally brought together 26,500 people…”   

He went on, 

“[The crowd] cheered as the president ticked off the progress made on behalf of young voters in the past two years… And they cheered wildly as the president asked them to canvass, to phone bank, and most importantly, to vote on Nov. 2.”Geared toward young voters, the president’s speech was part of a larger organizing effort across the country, with students at more than 200 colleges hosting “watch parties” to see a live webcast of the Madison event… [college activists also] committed to vote and planned campus organizing drives for the last few days of voter registration.”  

Despite this last-minute surge in support by university students, however, (and Obama’s repeated embarrassing reminders to the young crowd of just what elected officials were “in the house”), the polls are fairly clear: Democrats are not likely to convince enough of their base that this next round of voting will usher in anything better than the past four years. A recent GALLUP Poll confirms, where 47 percent of Republicans say they were very enthusiastic about voting, only 28 percent of Democrats said the same. Indeed, of the Democrats who are expected to turn out to vote, the prime motivation was simply out of “party loyalty,” according to GALLUP, and not to any particularly strong faith in candidates. 

It only makes sense. The Democrats have failed time and time again to put through needed reforms for American workers. 

The Dem’s have had an incredible amount of power over the past four years – a supermajority in Congress, an extremely enthusiastic base, as well as one of the most liberal Democratic presidents in memory. But for all of those electoral victories – and voters are noticing – there has been little substantial change in the quality of life for American’s; the recession just keeps rolling on. 

Regardless of whether or not it was Bush’s fault to begin with, people are looking for hope. 

Nearly 19% of American workers are underemployed this month, meaning they only work part-time but want to work full-time or are simply unemployed, according to the most recent study done by GALLUP. Meanwhile, consumer spending remains the lowest its been since the beginning of the economic meltdown, 30 million people remain uninsured and incapable of receiving quality healthcare, and nearly 43% of American workers complain that they are underpaid for what little work they can find.


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