GOP has intensity edge right now
April 30th, 2014
03:34 PM ET
5 months ago

GOP has intensity edge right now

Washington (CNN) - With just over six months to go until November's midterm elections, two new national polls suggest Republicans have an enthusiasm edge over Democrats.

And in midterm contests, which traditionally have a much lower turnout than presidential elections, getting out the base is crucial.

According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Wednesday, 45% of registered voters say they want the November elections to result in a Republican-controlled Congress, with an equal amount saying they'd like to see Democrats in control on Capitol Hill.

But among voters with the highest interest in the midterms, the GOP holds a 15-percentage point lead (53%-38%) over the Democrats on the question of which party should control Congress.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll released Tuesday indicates the two major political parties are all tied up in the generic ballot, which asks respondents to choose between a Democrat or Republican in their congressional district without identifying the candidates. But among those who say they'll definitely vote in November, the GOP has a slight five point edge.

Seventy percent of registered Republican voters questioned in a CBS News poll conducted late last month said they are very or somewhat excited about voting in November, compared to 58% of Democrats. Only 47% of independent voters said they're very or somewhat excited to cast ballots in the midterms. And 81% of registered Republicans said they'll definitely vote in November, compared to 68% of registered Democrats.

The surveys seem to back up the conventional wisdom that the GOP has an advantage over the Democrats in midterm contests. White voters and older voters, key to the Republican base, tend to cast ballots in bigger percentages in midterms than younger voters and minorities, who are an important part of the Democrats' base.

A new Harvard University Institute of Politics poll on millennials – those between the ages of 18 and 29 – suggests a shrinking percentage of younger voters who say they'll cast ballots come November. According to the online survey, which was released Tuesday, 24% of Americans under the age of 30 say they'll definitely vote in the midterms, a 10 point drop from last autumn, and seven points lower than what they said at a similar time in the 2010 midterm election cycle.

2014 Midterms: CNN special coverage

Voter intensity is just one of a slew of indicators used to gauge what may actually happen come Election Day, and it's not always accurate.

"The difference in enthusiasm and turnout explains why the Republicans benefitted from 'change elections' in 1994 and 2010, yet Bill Clinton and Barack Obama both scored fairly easy re-election victories just two years later," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "It's not that voters changed their minds and changed them back again - it's a question of motivating your supporters, and Democrats seem to be harder to motivate in non-presidential years."

The Obama factor

Another midterm indicator is the President's approval rating. A new CNN Poll of Polls indicates that 43% of Americans approve of the job President Barack Obama's doing, with 51% giving him the thumbs down.

The CNN Poll of Polls, compiled and released Wednesday, is an average of the three non-partisan, live operator, national surveys of the President's approval rating conducted over the last week: Gallup daily tracking poll (April 27-29); ABC News/Washington Post (April 24-27); and NBC News/Wall Street Journal (April 23-27). Since it is an average of multiple surveys, the Poll of Polls does not have a sampling error.

Obama's approval rating has hovered in the low to mid 40's this year in most national polling. That's slightly higher than where the President stood in November and early December, when his approval rating was at or near all-time lows in many national surveys.

The approval rating is considered one of the best gauges of a president's standing with Americans and of his clout with lawmakers here in Washington. And during a midterm election year, the approval rating is constantly under the national spotlight, as it's considered a key indicator of how the president's political party may fare on Election Day.

Key races to watch in 2014

State of Play

Democrats hold a 55-45 majority in the Senate (53 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the party), but are defending 21 of the 36 seats up in November, with half of those Democratic-held seats in red or purple states.

In the House, Democrats need to pick up 17 GOP-held seats to win back control of the Republican-led chamber, a feat political handicappers say is unlikely considering the shrinking number of competitive congressional districts.

When it comes to governors' races, the GOP's defending 22 of the 36 seats up for grabs in November. And some of them are in states that Obama carried in both 2008 and 2012, such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, Maine, Nevada and New Mexico.

 


Filed under: 2014 • Congress
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. rs

    While things do seem to look better for the GOP in the next election cycle (including perhaps most simply the historical trending), the one question that I think needs to be addressed is "which GOP?"
    Certainly the TEA Party folks have had a certain mania which has made them very effective in the GOP primary cycles- but clearly less so in actual elections. As they become even more radicalized, the GOP as a whole shifts ever Rightward. At some point (and perhaps not in 2014) that becomes unsustainable.
    The GOP is at least two parties now, and we can almost delineate them by their candidates. If the more reliable (and I dare say reasonable ones ) win, that could lay the groundwork for re-popularizing the GOP. If they lose to the "scorched-earther" types, it may simply be a temporary victory, rife with inevitable over-reach and abuse that will lead to a long exile. And, it may not happen just with party members- there are a host of radical folks like Bundy and his "militia" who could sway opinion in the interim.

    This election isn't in the bag just yet.

    April 30, 2014 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    Intense and sociopathic often go hand-in-hand.

    April 30, 2014 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    Well, folks. Do you want to know what it will be like with Republicans in charge? Look at Michigan, with its' governor appointed czars that go into cities and towns to rule over the people. Look at Texas, where abortion and freedom choice has been all but outlawed. Look at Colorado, embracing the gun culture like there's no tomorrow. Look at the 20 states that have refused to permit their citizens access to better health care by expanding Medicaid.

    Look at the dozens of states that have enacted Voter ID laws, in a blatant attempt to suppress votes. Look at those same Voter ID states that have changed voting hours, early voting, polling locations, cut budgets to produce state issued IDs, reduced hours to state DMV offices.

    Why are they dong these things. Because most conservatives are issues voters. They will vote for someone who espouses the same positions on certain issues that the voter has. They seem to ignore all of the other issues and positions that the politician may have, just as long as they stick to this one position. That's how people vote against their own personal interests, because once elected, the Republican politicians have an entirely different agenda.

    April 30, 2014 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  4. Chris-E...al

    Enthusigasm polls whats next the hyper poll sugar poll bean poll corn state poll ? ?

    April 30, 2014 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  5. salty dog

    That's the difference between a live and let live mentality, and an I want to control what happens in your life mentality .

    April 30, 2014 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  6. Rusty Krus

    Oh Dear! What will the GOP do when they don't have a black man to hate and rally against?

    April 30, 2014 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  7. Tony

    Republicans had the intensity edge in 2012 too, and we all know what happened. Intensity does not matter; turnout does. Democrats, if you are sick and tired of people telling you that you will lose because you won't turn out for midterm elections, make that your motivation.

    April 30, 2014 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    "Enthusigasm polls whats next the hyper poll sugar poll bean poll corn state poll ? ?"

    The pole up your hole poll. Clearly, the GOP/Teatrolls win that one.

    April 30, 2014 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  9. Silence DoGood

    Vote GOP! Then get ready to re-fight the same battles for rights and equality over and over and over......

    April 30, 2014 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  10. truth hurts but reality bites

    Democrats have been in charge of most of the fderal government now for nearly 8 years. They lead us into a recession (control of the house & Senate 2 years prior) and claimed to have the solution to get back. Still record unemployment and pathetic jobs numbers month after month. Obamacare wrecking our healthcare system, USA being laughed at around the world. I wouldn't call it an intensity edge. I would say the American people have seen and heard enough and been lied to to often by the Democrats.

    Basically, enough is enough. The country simply can't afford much more of this divisive failure and incompetence.

    April 30, 2014 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  11. steve

    The GOP,hear,speak,and see no evil!

    April 30, 2014 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  12. Bert Lahr

    @Chris-E...al
    Enthusigasm polls whats next the hyper poll sugar poll bean poll corn state poll ? ?

    Well Said!

    April 30, 2014 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    "Democrats have been in charge of most of the fderal government now for nearly 8 years. They lead us into a recession (control of the house & Senate 2 years prior)"

    If you think the recession occurred because of things the Dems did or did not do after taking control of Congress in 2007, then you do not have the rudimentary understanding of the economy or the recession itself that a turnip could have gathered from simply living through it all as we did.

    April 30, 2014 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  14. Lynda/Minnesota

    Intensity? Whatever happened to ... oh, what was we kept hearing over and over again in 2010?

    Oh yeah. Enthusiasm. Guess that word is all used up.

    As a matter of curiosity, whatever happened to Frank Luntz' focus group talking points "words to use"?

    April 30, 2014 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  15. steve

    @truth hurts but reality bites

    I suppose you think those 2 unfunded wars that Bush got us into have no effect on the economic problems that we are still in.
    go bury your head back in the sand and pretend that idiot nixon is still president.

    April 30, 2014 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  16. The Real Tom Paine

    @ truth hurts but reality bites:

    Of course everything happened because the Democrats won control of Congress in 2006. Remember how great things were with the GOPers controlling both the Congress and the White House? Remember how united we were when we got a tax cut in wartime, and 2 unfunded wars off the books? Remember all the wonderful ways the GOP sat back and did nothing while the warning signs of economic collapse were obvious? I guess you forgot the bliss of standing back and doing nothing and telling people " you're on your own". Such noble values in action. I guess your lot have done a remarkable job of balkanizing our country so that inaction is confused with actually doing something and standing for something.

    April 30, 2014 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  17. Dallas

    I have fear for America if these Tea Bags are allowed to take control of our government. They despise everyone except rich white people. Democrats cannot sit this one out – it is too important – we must vote to ensure that this nightmare scenario does not happen.

    April 30, 2014 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "GOP has intensity edge right now"

    Bath salts will do that to ya.

    April 30, 2014 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  19. Dumbas[R]ocks

    This is nothing new. There has always been a frantic intensity to today's [R]s. That is because the [R] religion runs 99% on emotion, and 1% on fear, leaving 0% for intellect. When you are so intellectually bankrupt that you cannot even muster an honest speech in Congress or an honestly conducted press interview, you can only gain support from the intellectual underbelly who readily responds to propaganda that feeds on intense fear and emotion.

    Intense indeed. Intensely STUPID!

    April 30, 2014 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  20. truth hurts but reality bites

    Sniffit
    --
    "Democrats have been in charge of most of the fderal government now for nearly 8 years. They lead us into a recession (control of the house & Senate 2 years prior)"
    -–
    If you think the recession occurred because of things the Dems did or did not do after taking control of Congress in 2007, then you do not have the rudimentary understanding of the economy or the recession itself that a turnip could have gathered from simply living through it all as we did.
    -–

    Democrats were in charge of oversight for Fannie mae and Freddie Mac and FAILED TO ACT even after numerous warnings. Barney Frank even denied there was a problem and openly attacked those that told the truth.

    Please don't lie and be so dishonest. Congressional Democrats were FAR more responsible for the recession than Bush was. You are just better at spinning your lies and blaming others.

    April 30, 2014 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  21. Dead Bear

    Yeah, insane people are usually pretty intense. Want to tell us something we don't already know?

    April 30, 2014 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  22. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Please don't lie and be so dishonest. Congressional Democrats were FAR more responsible for the recession than Bush was. You are just better at spinning your lies and blaming others."

    Ah yes. The TeaParty conversation of "hey, let us ALL work together and correct past mistakes".

    Nah. Just kidding. Better to throw temper tantrums over who did what first. Or whatever.

    April 30, 2014 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |