All the political media scream "enthusiasm gap!" As Evan McMorris-Santoro cogently explained
What's going on here? Every commentator around is offering their take -- I will not resist the temptation to add mine.
- We must all start with the obvious -- somehow "the recession has ended" and as many as nearly 20 percent of the people who want to be working aren't working. That's a hell of a headwind for the party in power.
- Now maybe, if the Democrats were percieved to be fighting for the people the economy is hurting, they'd have folks at their backs. But instead this descriptive snark seems all too apt. We see
- And that's a downer. Most people don't follow politics or policy closely. In fact I think it is fair to say that most people engage with politics to try to prevent awful outcomes that would upset what they regard as their real lives. As Nate Silver reminds us "voting is principally an emotional act..." This makes "throw the bums out" an easy political message.
- Another fraction of electorate only does politics when it is inspired or at least promised what I urge campaigns to make themselves: "the best party in town." (A party in Iceland knows this: they named themselves Best Party and won elections in Reykjavik. I love it!) The new and infrequent voters who were there for Barack Obama in 2008 included a lot of this kind of people. As the person who writes as "slinkerwink" recently pointed out:
- Polling suggests that some large portion of people who might lean to Democrats are still breathing the welcome sigh of relief that came with the end of George W. Bush's ugly tenure in 2009. It is still sinking in that the loony right might be on the way back. Here's Josh Marshall:
- More recent polling points to another fascinating reality:
I'll be working to keep and put as many Dems in office as possible because I believe the country is better off with Dems in power, even though what we've gotten so far from the Obama administration is very disappointing. But that's not a rousing affirmation for anyone to run on.