Washington — A political enthusiasm gap is helping Republicans in their effort to roll up big gains in the congressional elections. GOP supporters are a lot more interested in getting their party’s candidates elected than Democrats are in electing theirs, a new AP-GfK poll shows.
Democrats struggling to defend their control of Congress have lucked out in one way: Republicans are at least as unpopular as they are, the poll shows. Yet GOP voters are more fired up, leaving the Democrats little more than a month to energize their supporters.
The Associated Press-GfK Poll this month shows that the public is fed up with both parties. Only 38 percent approve of how congressional Democrats are handling their jobs, and just 31 percent like how Republicans are doing theirs. Fifty-nine percent are unhappy with how Democrats are nursing the economy, 64 percent are upset by the GOP’s work on the country’s top issue.
More than half have negative views of each party. Most say Obama isn’t cooperating enough on the economy, but even more accuse Republicans of the same thing. And former President George W. Bush and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — the only two Republicans the AP-GfK Poll tested — are significantly less popular than Obama.
Even so, Republicans have the upper hand because their supporters seem significantly likelier to show up and vote. Political scientists say people are likeliest to vote based on present conditions — which today means a wounded economy — rather than choosing between competing philosophies for the future.
In the AP-GfK Poll, 54 percent who strongly dislike Democrats express intense interest in the election, compared with just 40 percent of those with very negative views of Republicans.