Intensity, which translates into enthusiasm and therefore turnout, is an important factor in elections. One of President Obama’s fundamental problems is that, while his approval/disapproval ratings have hovered around 50/50 throughout his term, the intensity of those who disapprove of his performance has consistently been greater. We have noted this many times by referring to Scott Rasmussen’s Approval Index, which compares strong approval with strong disapproval. An incumbent who is in negative territory by this measure is likely in trouble. This graph shows Obama’s Approval Index from his inauguration to the present; currently he stands at -11. His strong approval numbers have improved somewhat over the course of the campaign, as Democrats express more loyalty, but note how consistent the strong disapproval has been:
This situation, which has existed for nearly all of Obama’s term, is reflected in the many polls that show Republicans are much more enthusiastic about voting this year than Democrats. Since there are about an equal number of Republicans and Democrats, that bodes well for the GOP.
The enthusiasm gap, while rarely commented on in the mass media, is reflected on the campaign trail just about every day. Barack Obama and Joe Biden generate relatively small crowds–far smaller than in 2008–and both Obama and his surrogates generally prefer to appear on college campuses, about the only remaining venues where they can hope for an enthusiastic crowd.
The opposite is true for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. They draw large, excited crowds pretty much everywhere they go. I was reminded of what it takes to draw a big crowd on the stump when I got an email invitation to Paul Ryan’s appearance in Minnesota on Sunday. The event will take place in an airplane hangar, and, with security requirements, the doors will open a full two hours before the rally is scheduled to begin. I am a “broken glass” voter, but I probably won’t devote my whole Sunday afternoon to getting in and out of a Romney/Ryan rally. The fact that tens of thousands are willing to commit to that kind of time and inconvenience demonstrates how dedicated Republican voters are this year.
Today in West Chester, Ohio, a crowd estimated at 25,000 turned out to cheer Mitt Romney. Twitchy has lots of photos, including this one:
The enthusiasm gap is one reason why I am optimistic that Michael Barone’s prediction of a Romney victory will prove correct.