Monday, February 6, 2012

What happened to the enthusiasm gap?

Steve Benen has a post out this morning with some numbers I've been wondering about. It turns out that just 32,930 people participated in the Nevada Republican caucuses. But that's just part of the story.

Going into Saturday's contest, Nevada GOP leaders told reporters they expected in upwards of 70,000 Republicans to participate. The final tally shows the party failed to even reach half that total.

What's more, if Nevada were the only state that struggled, it'd be easier to overlook. Unfortunately for the GOP, though, the poor showing in the Silver State fits into a larger pattern.

The Republicans' primary in Florida last week, for example, showed a sharp decline in turnout (about 14%) as compared to 2008. In the Iowa caucuses, GOP turnout fell short of expectations, and in the New Hampshire primary, it happened again. Turnout in South Carolina was strong, but given the party's difficulties in the other four contests, it's proving to be the exception.

On twitter, Dana Houle adds an interesting reminder.

Note, btw, that in only primary w good turnout, Romney got only 27%, lost by 13 to Gingrich

Could Houle have identified the source of the problem with Republican enthusiasm...when it comes to Mitt Romney - they're just not into him?


  1. Unfortunately, it doesn't really matter what the enthusiasm factor is right now. It matters in August, Sept. and Nov.

    HuffPo asked what it would take for an R to vote for Obama. The answer was it couldn't happen. A man being foreclosed on declared he would vote for Romney because Obama didn't do enough to stop foreclosures.

    With unreasoning hatred such as that, who needs a candidate to pump up enthusiasm?

    1. I think you're mistaking "may or probably will vote" for enthusiasm. Most Democrats have been seeing the results of a Republican House, as well as what's going on in a number of states - and that will gear up their enthusiasm later in the year. It's also not the Republican registered voters one needs to be concerned about. The "active" (or primary voters) are a percentage of the overall, and if their willingness to turn out is that low, it indicates that there are other problems in the party.

      Where this really hurts is when you talk about campaign efforts. The volunteers who go staff the local offices, hit the pavement, do the "get out the vote" work in a campaign. The lack of enthusiasm that Mitt is generating among the Republican base means that when those people are needed, they're either not going to show up, or they'll be half-hearted about it. So it doesn't matter if they vote for Mitt themselves, it's whether they're going to work to get other people to vote for him.

    2. I read a few Republican blogs to follow their discussions of the nomination battle among the various candidates' supporters, and there's a rising level of acrimony between the Mitttards, Newtrons, and Frothies (see for example the comment thread here). I've seen several Republicans say they won't vote for the nominee if it's not their own favored candidate. I've even seen some declare that if the Republican nominee is Gingrich, they'll vote for Obama.

      Yes, there's irrational anti-Obama hatred out there, but there's also a lot of infighting, and the real wingnuts are very unenthused about Romney.

    3. What I loved was the comment about 2008 being a "more diverse race" in the Republican Party. Seriously, a bunch of wealthy older white men from relatively privileged backgrounds is "diverse." At least, in Republican-speak.

    4. Well, they had Giuliani who was pro-choice and McCain who accepted evolution and anthropogenic global warming. In 2012 Republican terms, that's diverse to the point of heresy.

      The last thing I'd want to do is promote complacency, but.....savor the panic.

  2. The South Carolina result is significant. Evangelical Christians are now the true base of the Republican party. To them, Romney is too moderate, suspect on abortion, and a heretic (Mormon). South Carolina is the most Evangelical-dominated state of the ones that have voted so far, and they turned out in great numbers to reject Romney in favor of the most viable fruitloop candidate they had left (in Iowa there were still multiple fruitloops dividing the Evangelical vote, disguising the effect).

    Florida panhandle, same pattern. It's more culturally similar to Georgia and Alabama than to the rest of Florida where Romney won. In the panhandle there were lots of Evangelicals, turn-out was high, and Gingrich won.

    Evangelicals reject Romney and will swarm the polls to say so. Romney's supporters are luke-warm, hence the low turn-out where he wins.

    That's why Gingrich is staying in. Romney's going to have a string of low-turn-out wins in February, then in March the South gets its chance to say no to Romney. If Santorum's out by then, Gingrich cleans up.

    Romney will still be the nominee, but not only will his supporters lack enthusiasm, a lot of the base will have rejected him.

    1. Great point about the Florida panhandle.

      I'll go out on a limb here and suggest that some of the things I'm seeing right now indicate the possibility of yet another Santorum surge before all this is done.

      But in the end, I think your last paragraph describes the final result.

    2. You are right in your logical analysis ... and wrong in the implications.

      It is irrelevant what happens in SC, AL, MS, LA, AR, TN and some others about how much they dislike Romney.

      Those states would vote for a Hitler/Stalin ticket (or Stalin/Hitler if you prefer) if they were running as R.

      The states that count are not particularly evangelical or socially repugnant: NH, OH, IA, MN, MI, and so forth.

      I hope you are right, but I think Romney's $$$ will generate a lot of enthusiasm. Here's hoping I'm as wrong on this as I've been wrong on most everything else this election season.

  3. I'm in GA, and I think Infidel has a point. Early polls show Gingrich in the lead here. I'm fairly certain that not only GA, but maybe AL, MS, LA, and TX voters will go for Gingrich.

  4. Absolutely disgusting:

    This is from the RightWing patriots: "We will see what happens with Obama. Israel may attack Iran. Europe may collapse. Something might happen, we don’t know."

    About whether Romney can beat Obama. Thank you, Infidel for the link.