PRINCETON, NJ -- Only 51% of Republicans say they are more enthusiastic about voting than in previous years, compared to 71% of Democrats, marking a shift from October 2004, when enthusiasm was about the same for both partisan groups.
This disproportionate enthusiasm, measured in a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted over the weekend, is not a new phenomenon this year. Democrats have reported a higher "more enthusiastic" reading each of the seven times Gallup has asked the question in 2008. The smallest gap was a 7-point Democratic advantage in the Sept. 5-7 USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted just after the Republican National Convention.
The largest partisan discrepancy came in February, in the middle of the heated Democratic primaries, when 79% of Democrats said they were more enthusiastic about voting this year, compared to just 44% of Republicans.
Enthusiasm was much more equal between Republicans and Democrats prior to the 2004 election. In Gallup's Oct. 14-16 poll that year, 68% of Republicans and 67% of Democrats said they were more enthusiastic about voting, and in a Sept. 3-5, 2004, poll, conducted shortly after the conclusion of the Republican convention, Republicans held a 7-point advantage over Democrats.
As a result of the relatively low enthusiasm levels evinced by Republicans this year, the overall percentage of voters who say they are more enthusiastic about voting is slightly lower than it was in 2004 at about this time.
Obama Voters vs. McCain Voters
As would be expected given the significant partisan enthusiasm gap, there is a major difference in enthusiasm between Obama voters and McCain voters.
Seventy-four percent of Obama voters say they are more enthusiastic about voting compared to previous elections, with just 15% saying they are less enthusiastic. That yields an extraordinarily high +59-point "more enthusiastic" margin for Obama voters. Among McCain voters, it's a substantially different picture: The net "more enthusiastic" margin is just 8 points, with 48% saying they are more enthusiastic and 40% less enthusiastic about voting this year.
Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,269 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Oct. 10-12, 2008. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.
For results based on the sample of 1,201 registered voters, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.
For results based on the sample of 626 Democrats and Democratic leaners, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points. For results based on the sample of 558 Republicans and Republican leaners, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.