News Wrap: Enthusiasm Gap Narrows, Obey Retires
by Nathan Empsall, Wed May 05, 2010 at 06:54:41 PM EDT
Two big process stories today, in a good news/bad news sort of way for Democrats. The good news is that the latest Gallup poll shows Democrats are catching up to the Republicans in the enthusiasm gap, a number almost if not just as important as the generic ballot. According to Gallup,
Republican registered voters' enthusiasm about voting in this year's midterm elections has declined significantly in recent weeks. As a result, Republicans' advantage over Democrats on this measure has shrunk from 19 points in early April to 10 points in the latest weekly aggregate.
In late March and early April, after Congress' passage of healthcare reform, both Republican and Democratic registered voters became more enthusiastic about voting in this year's elections. Republicans' enthusiasm peaked at 54% "very enthusiastic" in late March and early April, but is 43% in the latest weekly update, from April 27-May 2 -- essentially where it was before healthcare passed. By contrast, Democrats have more or less retained the slightly higher level of enthusiasm they showed right after the healthcare bill milestone.
The specific numbers are 43-33.
The bad news is that House Appropriations Chair David Obey is retiring. According to the Hill, this announcement comes "much to the shock of his colleagues." This is our 18th open seat, compared to 21 open Repub seats. Obey pointed to the death of two former colleagues, Jack Murtha and Charlie Willson, and said he's "bone tired." He is 71 and has been in Congress for 41 years, and is the fourth longest serving member of the House. In the latest National Journal rankings, he was listed as thte 70th most liberal House member, and came in at 21 the previous year.
We should be able to hold this seat, but it won't be easy. His district, the Wisconsin 7th, went to Obama with 56% of the vote, but Kerry only had 51%, and this year the Republicans have a strong candidate in Palin-endorsed district attorney and sportscaster Sean Duffy. At least there's plenty of time to recruit a candidate, with a primary on September 14 and filing deadline on July 13. What's more, First Read claims the Democrats have a deep and strong bench in the district, naming ten potential candidates. The flip side, of course, is that it might help in anti-incumbent year to say hey, two of our top House leaders won't be leaders next year (ex-Chairman Rangel being the other).