Republicans remain more enthusiastic than Democrats in voting this year as in 2010, and Independents increased their enthusiasm in both general elections since 2008, according to a new poll by SoonerPoll.com.
The phone survey of 305 likely voting Oklahomans show 60% of Independents were more enthusiastic in voting this year than in previous elections, Republicans were 58% and Democrats were 46%.
While Independents only make up about five to seven percent of the turnout on Election Day, there may not be much to read into how this will affect the election here in Oklahoma. But, all eyes are on the Republican and Democrat enthusiasm, where Republicans continue to out-pace Democrats — this year by just 13 points.
Here is another way to look at it. Among just those in the poll who said they were more enthusiastic about voting this time than previous elections, slightly more than half (51%) were Republicans compared to 43% for Democrats. Likewise, 59% of those who said they were less enthusiastic were Democrats compared to only 34% of Republicans.
An even more stark difference was found among respondents’ vote choice for president. Among those most enthusiastic in voting, 68% were voting for Governor Mitt Romney while only 30% for President Barack Obama, a whopping 38 point spread.
For the state’s Democrats, this may not be a good sign as enthusiasm, or lack of it, at the top of the ballot can have an impact on voter turnout in down ticket races, such as those for the state house and senate.
“Romney supporters are finally getting more excited than Obama’s,” said Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll.com. “Enthusiasm gets voters to the polls, more volunteers in the door, and money in the campaign account.”
Conservatives in Oklahoma also seem to be driving enthusiasm. By a net 11 points, conservatives are more enthusiastic than less enthusiastic about voting in this election, but moderates and liberal voters had higher less enthusiasm than more — moderates by 11 points and liberal voters by two.
Most political observers agree that Romney’s increase in enthusiasm dates back to the first debate, in which the president even admitted it wasn’t his best performance.
“Conservatives were not necessarily on board with Romney during the primary,” Shapard said. “He had been a moderate, pro-choice Republican governor from a blue state, but his performance in the first debate showed conservatives that Romney could potentially beat the president.”
The same trend also is appearing on the national stage. In the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, 59 percent of Romney backers voiced “strong enthusiasm” for their candidate, a jump of 11 points in two weeks and a stunning 33-point leap since May. Enthusiasm for the president was also higher in the same poll, but it was below where it was four years ago.
Nowhere could enthusiasm be more important than among demographic groups which typically have lower voter turnout. One in particular is younger voters who, in 2008, were critical in the election of President Obama. Earlier this month, Harvard University released a poll of 18- to 29-year-olds that showed the percent claiming they will definitely vote was down about 15 percentage points from 2008.
In the critical swing state of Ohio, the percentage of those highly enthusiastic is low among younger likely voters, according to the most recent Marist Poll. Of those 18-29, 51 percent said they were very enthusiastic, the lowest percentage among the various age groups.
Keith Gaddie, political science professor at the University of Oklahoma, felt enthusiasm may be best for Romney, but that Obama’s final two weeks was based on a different strategy.
“My conversations with colleagues at the national polling houses indicates that the Romney vote is more closely tied to enthusiasm, while Democratic intention to vote Obama is independent of any enthusiasm for voting,” said Gaddie. “This presents different closing strategies — the Romney strategy has to be about momentum and enthusiasm, while the Obama strategy is about identification and mobilization.”
About the Poll
Three hundred and five (305) likely voters participated in this study, using a Random Digit Dialing (RDD) technique that included both cell phone and landline telephone numbers. Likely voters were determined by utilizing an industry recognized likely voter screen.
The data collection was conducted by phone using live interviewers from October 18-24, 2012. Results were weighted by age, sex, race and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both). A complete description of the methodology can be found at here.
For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5.61 percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.
As a part of an industry effort, known as the AAPOR Transparency Initiative, to provide more disclosure of how polls are conducted, here is a comprehensive Sample Disposition and Rate Calculations report of this poll, which includes a disposition of all calls made from the sample and calculated response, cooperation, refusal, and contact rates as defined by the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR).