San Jose, California (CNN) - President Barack Obama says when it comes to this year's midterm elections, Democrats have a problem: they don't vote.
"Democrats have a congenital defect when it comes to our politics, and that is we like voting during presidential years and during the midterms we don't vote. And so you already have lower voting totals during the midterms, and it's our folks that stay home," the President said a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in San Jose, California Thursday night.
The event was the last in a series of Democratic party fundraisers Obama headlined the past two days during a swing through California. Besides bringing in the bucks for the DNC and the party's House and Senate re-election committees, the President was also trying fire up the base, to motivate Democratic voters to do just that this November: vote.
And Democrats, more than Republicans, appear to have more work ahead of them when it comes to firing up the base. Conventional wisdom dictates 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
"Maybe in normal times that's okay - although I don't think it's ever okay for us not to vote. But in this midterm, with the stakes as high as they are, with the progress that needs to be made, with families out there who are desperate to see a Washington that is on their side - we're going to have to make sure that we are coming out with the same urgency and the same enthusiasm that we typically show during presidential years," Obama added.
Three recent national polls indicated that Republicans are more enthusiastic about voting this November than Democrats.
According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 45% of registered voters said 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 held a 15-percentage point lead (53%-38%) over the Democrats on the question of which party should control Congress.
An ABC News/Washington Post survey indicated 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 said they'll definitely vote in November, the GOP had a slight five point edge.
Seventy percent of registered Republican voters questioned in a CBS News poll said they are very or somewhat excited about voting in November, compared to 58% of Democrats. And 81% of registered Republicans said they'll definitely vote in November, compared to 68% of registered Democrats.
And a Harvard University Institute of Politics poll on millennials – those between the ages of 18 and 29 – suggested a shrinking percentage of younger voters who say they'll cast ballots come November. According to the online survey, 24% of Americans under the age of 30 said 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.
The Democrats currently hold a 55-45 majority in the Senate (including two independents who caucus with the party). But the party's defending 21 of the 36 seats in play, 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 chamber, a feat political handicappers say is unlikely considering the shrinking number of competitive congressional districts.