May 14, 2014

JAMES TARANTO: Bore More Years! Let’s Hear It For Voter Apathy.

Perhaps more interestingly, in every past year voters of at least one party had an enthusiasm “surplus”–that is, a higher proportion said they were more enthusiastic than less. The current poll finds deficits for both Republicans (42% more and 50% less enthusiastic) and Democrats (32% more, 55% less). The GOP ends up with a net 15-point advantage over the Democrats.

To the extent these figures mean anything–a significant qualification, since what ultimately matters is if and how people vote, not whether they do it with gusto–they’re worse news for Democrats than for Republicans. That means they’re good news for Republicans, given the zero-sum nature of electoral politics. In four out of the past five midterm elections (1998 is the exception), the party with greater “net enthusiasm” gained seats.

A Wall Street Journal poll, also conducted at the end of April, gives further “reason for Democrats to sleep uneasily right now,” as the Journal’s Gerald Seib reports: “Public attitudes today are remarkably similar to those that prevailed just before [their 2010] election disaster.”

Well, what is there, really, for voters to be enthusiastic about?