The U.S. Capitol is pictured on Oct. 16, 2013, in Washington, D.C.
Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

Democrats: Winning the midterm battle, losing the intensity war

With 44 days to go until the midterm elections, Democrats are holding an overall lead among registered voters, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Annenberg poll has found. But in terms of enthusiasm – the all too important factor that can mean the difference between a voter showing up on Election Day, or staying home to watch Law and Order – it’s Republicans who have the edge.

Forty-six percent of voters prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress, according to the survey, versus 42% who favor the GOP. Among “high-interest” voters, however, Republicans have the advantage, 51%-43%.

Additionally, the poll found lackluster enthusiasm among key groups of the Democratic base, as compared to those that make up the GOP’s. Forty-two percent of women, 31% of African-Americans, 23% of Hispanics, and 20% of voters aged 18-34 said they were highly interested in the election. By contrast, traditionally GOP-leaning constituencies – seniors, Tea Party supporters, and white males – all polled 50% or higher as saying that they were highly interested. (For seniors, it was 62%; Tea Partiers, 63%.)

All in all, 54% of GOP voters said they had a high interest in the upcoming election, registering a “9” or “10” on a 10-point scale, versus 44% of Democrats who said the same. Furthermore, three in four Republican respondents said that this election is more important than previous cycles, while 57% of Democrats said it was the same level of importance.

The enthusiasm gap is not a new story for the Dems. In fact, it’s persistently plagued the party in the lead-up to November, raining down on their hopes to pick up 17 House seats and retake the majority. If that doesn’t happen, the intensity war will surely be to blame.

The poll of 815 registered voters was conducted September 14 to September 18. The margin of error is +/- 4.31.

Polling

Democrats: Winning the midterm battle, losing the intensity war