Strong Excitement Deficit Still Afflicts GOP
by Jonathan Singer, Fri Apr 27, 2007 at 09:19:12 AM EDT
Throughout this year, polling has quite consistently shown a noticeable excitement deficit afflicting the Republicans, with the GOP base significantly less happy with their pool of presidential candidates and generally dour on politics than the Democratic base. The latest polling from NBC News and The Wall Street Journal only confirms this trend.
On the generic presidential ballot question the Democrats still hold rather large leads, both overall and in terms of hard support. Fully 49 percent of Americans favor a Democratic candidate in 2008, 39 percent strongly, while just 31 percent favor a Republican candidate with just 25 percent doing so strongly. Certainly this is not an indication that the Democrats are destined to win the presidential election by an 18-point margin. On the same token, such a margin in the popular vote is not impossible either, having been achieved six times during the 20th century, most recently by Ronald Reagan in 1984 and most recently by a Democrat by Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
Realistically, though, these numbers point to two things: Independents are identifying with the Democrats by a greater rate than almost any other point in recent memory and the Republicans just aren't sold on their own party. To this second point, the NBC/Journal survey provides further evidence, notably in the form of poll questions on satisfaction with the respective party's cadre of candidates. The vast majority of Democrats and Democratic-leaning Independents -- 78 percent -- say that they are satisfied with their choices for their party's nomination, while just 13 percent say they are dissatisfied. On the Republican side, however, just 53 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents -- down three points in the last month -- say they are satisfied with their candidates while 33 percent -- up 7 points from last month -- say they are dissatisfied. Though this set of numbers is no doubt at least somewhat a result of the fact that Fred Thompson and Newt Gingrich have not yet entered the race, the great difference between Democrats' satisfaction and that of Republicans still points to an excitement gap that could make it extremely difficult for the Republicans to hold on to the White House in 2008 or even pick up seats in Congress.