GOP voters 'more enthusiastic' despite negative campaign - Gallup
The only problem with this poll is that it survey's all voters, not just registered or likely voters.
Still, as a barometer of national mood, it is instructive regarding the GOP race and how badly Republican and GOP-leaning independents want to vote out the current occupant of the White House.
By 53% to 45%, Republicans, including independents who lean Republican, are slightly more likely than Democrats and Democratic leaners to say they are "more enthusiastic than usual about voting" this year. Republicans have consistently led Democrats in voting enthusiasm since last fall, but to varying degrees.
The latest reading is from a Feb. 16-19 USA Today/Gallup poll.
The 53% of Republicans who feel more enthusiastic about voting today -- as Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are engaged in a pitched nomination battle -- is greater than the 44% found in February 2008 when John McCain and Mike Huckabee were still dueling in the primaries.
Still, Republicans today are not nearly as enthused about voting as Democrats were in February 2008, during the competitive nomination battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
At that time, 79% of Democrats said they were more enthusiastic than usual about voting, higher than the 53% of Republicans today and the 44% of Republicans in 2008.
The enthusiasm question is important because, in the last several presidential and midterm elections, the party whose rank-and-file members showed the most enthusiasm about voting toward the end of the campaign either gained congressional seats or won the presidency. That includes, for instance, Barack Obama in 2008, the Republicans in the 2010 midterm congressional elections, and the Democrats in the 2006 midterm elections. Thus, Republicans' ability to maintain their 2012 enthusiasm advantage through the fall could be an important factor in the election outcome.
Republicans seem to be able to keep their eye on the prize despite some of the most vicious campaigning in recent memory. While no candidate appears to excite the rank and file, the prospect of running against a vulnerable incumbent who enrages many gives the eventual nominee a running start in the fall campaign.
If the Republicans can raise enough cash to mount a credible get out the vote program, that enthusiasm gap will actually mean something.