Mark Blumenthal | July 18, 2008
Topics: 2004 , 2008 , Barack Obama , Bush , John McCain , Kathy Frankovic
Kathy Frankovic, the director of surveys for CBS News, devotes her column this week to a subject you have been reading a lot about lately, the "enthusiasm gap" between supporters of Barack Obama and John McCain. What's different about Frankovic's treatment -- and what makes it well worth the click -- is her comparison to a similar gap in enthusiasm that the CBS surveys revealed in 2004 and in the New Hampshire primary earlier this year.
She starts with the basic finding we have seen on most of the other national surveys, the greater enthusiasm expressed by Obama supporters:
Asked how they feel about the fact that their choice is the party’s nominee, 50 percent of Obama’s current voters say they are “enthusiastic.” Just 16 percent of McCain’s supporters say that about his candidacy. And while more than half of McCain voters are “satisfied” with McCain, 15 percent say they are “dissatisfied” or even “angry” that he is the nominee!
She then points to these critical findings from 2004:
In late July, 2004, even AFTER that year’s Democratic Convention and before the Republicans met, John Kerry’s supporters were a lot less committed to their candidate than supporters of George W. Bush were committed to theirs. Sixty percent of Bush voters said they “strongly” favored their candidate; just 47 percent of Kerry’s supporters said that. There was another motivation for many Kerry voters - 28 percent said they were voting for Kerry mostly because they disliked Bush. Strength-of-support numbers pretty much stayed the same for the rest of the campaign. Even in polls taken just before the 2004 election there wasn’t much difference: 67 percent of Bush voters said they supported him strongly, compared with just 49 percent of Kerry voters. And while 37 percent of likely Republican voters said they would be “excited” by a Bush win, just 24 percent of likely Democratic voters said they would be “excited” by a Kerry victory.
So does an enthusiasm gap matter to turnout? Pointing to similar results from this year's New Hampshire primary, Frankovic says yes. See her full column for details.