Democrats’ Apathy About Candidates Could Hurt Voter Turnout

Gallup: “In November, and again in January and February, we asked Americans, just after they told us what they consider to be the most important problem facing the nation, whether they think any of the presidential candidates have come up with good ideas for solving that problem or not.”

“A little more than half of Americans — 52% — said yes in February. That’s up slightly from January and November. Forty percent say ‘no,’ and the rest say they don’t know.”

“These views vary quite a bit by partisanship, and this becomes a significant finding. Republicans are more positive than Democrats. To be specific, 65% of Republicans say a candidate has come up with good ideas for solving the most important problem facing the nation, compared with 45% of independents and 49% of Democrats.”


“Bottom line: This lack of conviction among Democrats that candidates have answers, along with other indicators of lower enthusiasm about the election, could portend poorly for Democratic turnout next November, providing a distinct advantage for Republicans.”


  1. The poll seems to have taken the general population and party preference into account. It doesn’t mention the ratio of the three groups, so it’s unclear in what amount the discrepancy in apathy actually affects the chances of either party to win. The poll linked from the article, however, explicitly says “Republicans have a modest advantage over Democrats on [enthusiasm about voting in presidential election], as they typically do.”

    So there’s no apparent general change – it’s rehashing what everyone has known for a while now. “Apathy could hurt turnout in November” is like saying “It could rain in November”.

    1. We probably had the enthusiasm advantage in 2008, but every election can’t be 2008.

      If we can only win when we’re super-enthused, we’re not going to win consistently enough, and then we’ll really have something to be unenthused about.

  2. Most of these analyses don’t take into account that it’s not as closely contested a primary as 2008, which is what everyone uses as the benchmark for Dem turnout. This was cited as something to worry about in 2012, but it wasn’t even close to being a concern.

    1. It’s hard to say for sure, but to argue that high GOP primary turnout means high general election turnout for their eventual nominee–dubious.

      My mother is feeling the Bern. She’s quite willing to vote for Clinton in the general, but she much prefers Sanders. She made it very clear that she expects to do just that, because she doesn’t think Sanders can win the nomination. She voted in the primary, but I have to wonder if she’d do that if my dad wasn’t still around–much more interested in politics than her (he’s strongly for Hillary, with a few reservations about her campaigning style), and anyway, it’d be harder for her to vote without my dad to drive her around (she can’t drive anymore). A lot of people who want Hillary won’t vote because they figure she’s got it in the bag, and a lot of people who want Bernie won’t vote because they figure she’s got their state locked up (and they’re usually right).

      Now that’s one elderly woman, but look at all the enthusiastic Millennials who keep talking about Bernie–then don’t show up to vote in the primaries (and yet, bizarrely, enough of them will show up to caucus to give him the advantage sometimes).

      I think we need to know who the two nominees are–and to let the reality of having the GOP nominee as POTUS–for the enthusiasm to really get fired up. It’s perfectly normal for the base of a party that has held the White House for two terms to be less fired up than the base of a party that’s been locked out for two years, and who have been ginned up to hate the incumbent President like he strangled their puppies with his dusky secret Muslim hands.

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