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The 2012 enthusiasm gap: Are Democrats or Republicans more fired up?
GOP voters were long seen as the ones with the most energy, giving Mitt Romney an edge against President Obama. But Democrats might finally be catching up
Supporters shout "Four more years" as President Obama delivers remarks during a campaign stop in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Sept. 8.
Supporters shout "Four more years" as President Obama delivers remarks during a campaign stop in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Sept. 8.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
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hrough most of this year's presidential campaign, the conventional wisdom was that Republican voters were more enthusiastic than their Democratic counterparts. The reasoning seemed air-tight: As Americans of all stripes grew frustrated with enduring economic pain, conservatives who despise President Obama were itching for the chance to replace him, and many of Obama's supporters were growing disillusioned. A new Gallup poll, however, suggests that over the summer, the tide turned. In the 12 swing states likely to decide the presidential contest, Gallup says, the parties were actually equally enthusiastic in June. Since then, both parties have picked up enthusiasm, as have independents, but Democrats have gained the most. They now hold a significant lead, with 73 percent of battleground Democrats saying they are very or extremely charged up about voting, compared to just 64 percent of Republicans. Are Democrats the ones who now hold the enthusiasm edge?

No question. Democrats are more pumped: "The bad news for Romney keeps on coming," says Jon Walker at Firedoglake. He's trailing in polls, and voters give him lower marks than Obama on almost every issue. Now his enthusiasm edge has evaporated. The GOP was banking on heavy turnout to put them over the top, with their base fired up to kick Obama out of office. What they weren't counting on was that "disdain for Romney" makes Democrats "even more motivated" to keep Mitt out of the White House.
"Democratic enthusiasm surges"

Democrats are on an unsustainable sugar high: If you watched the Dems' "Abortion-Palooza" of a convention, says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air, you know Obama is going for a big turnout among diehard Democrats instead of trying to win over moderates. Obama's poll bounce and enthusiasm burp suggest the strategy "paid dividends." Based on Obama's deflating tracking-poll numbers, though, he won't be able to sustain the energy to keep up with the GOP's steadily surging spirits over the "two-month grind ahead."
"Gallup: Democratic enthusiasm surges in swing states, nationally"

It depends how you slice it: Obama is indeed leading among likely voters — 50 percent to 45 percent, according to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal survey, says Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post. Romney still has the advantage, though, among the likeliest voters — "that slice of the most enthusiastic slice of the electorate." It's hard to say who the math favors. The only certain thing is that in a close race "small margins matter," so victory could go to the side that musters more enthusiasm in a couple of swing states.
"The enthusiasm gap (or not) — in 2 charts"

Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.

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