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The Enthusiasm Gap from 2004

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.

 

Comments
Undecided:

OK... I understand the enthusiasm gap. But I think Frankovic was a little misleading when she stated only stated the statistics about McCain (15 percent) for dissatisfied and angry.

The full data from the CBS News poll at http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/CBSNews_polls/JUL08a-Campaign08.pdf.

So the SAME number of people (1%) are ANGRY for both Obama and McCain.

The differential in those who are DISSATISFIED is 8 points (Obama 6%-- McCain 14%). Yes, stating 1/2 of a statistic (McCain and not Obama) then 15% "dissatisfied and even angry" (bottom two categories) looks much worse than Obama 7% compared to McCain 15%.

So in the context of combing the top two categories as were the bottom two.... The total number who are SATISFIED (Obama 42%--McCain 68%) and ENTHUSIASTIC (Obama 50% and McCain 16%) is Obama 92% and McCain 84%... which is the difference in the "dissatisfied" category.

I understand statistics are manipulated to make a point... but I also expect a journalist to be more truthful in presenting those statistics. This journalist could have still successfully made her argument with full disclosure rather than hyping the numbers.


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Undecided:

OK... I understand the enthusiasm gap. But I think Frankovic was a little misleading when she stated only stated the statistics about McCain (15%) for dissatisfied and angry.

The full data from the CBS News poll at http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/CBSNews_polls/JUL08a-Campaign08.pdf.

So the SAME number of people (1%) are ANGRY for both Obama and McCain.

The differential in those who are DISSATISFIED is 8 points (Obama 6%-- McCain 14%). Yes, stating 1/2 of a statistic (McCain and not Obama) then 15% "dissatisfied and even angry" (bottom two categories) looks much worse than Obama 7% compared to McCain 15%.

So in the context of combing the top two categories as were the bottom two.... The total number who are SATISFIED (Obama 42%--McCain 68%) and ENTHUSIASTIC (Obama 50% and McCain 16%) is Obama 92% and McCain 84%... which is the difference in the "dissatisfied" category.

I understand statistics are manipulated to make a point... but I also expect a journalist to be more truthful in presenting those statistics. This journalist could have still successfully made her argument with full disclosure rather than hyping the numbers.


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Undecided:

Sorry for the multiple versions.... the previous ones were not posting (detected as spam if one quotes directly) so I finessed a couple of words.

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Undecided:

Note that today's tracking polls:

Gallup: Beginning 7/18 Obama fell out of his "zone" of 46-48 and is now at 45% two days in a row. July 18: Obama 45--McCain 44. July 19: Obama 45-43.

Rasmussen: With leaners Obama and McCain are tied again at 46% (also tied at 46% on July 17). On July 18, Obama 47%-McCain 46%.

Looks like the "popular vote" would be very close if the election were held today... but November is a long way off.

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kingsbridge77:

Unless we examine several elections, say, 2000, 1996, etc. and how the enthusiasm gap affected turnout, we won't know the truth.

We need to stop drawing conclusions based on 2004 alone. 2004 was not the only election ever held in the United States.

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cinnamonape:

Undeclared: "So in the context of combing the top two categories as were the bottom two.... The total number who are SATISFIED (Obama 42%--McCain 68%) and ENTHUSIASTIC (Obama 50% and McCain 16%) is Obama 92% and McCain 84%... which is the difference in the "dissatisfied" category.
I understand statistics are manipulated to make a point... but I also expect a journalist to be more truthful in presenting those statistics. This journalist could have still successfully made her argument with full disclosure rather than hyping the numbers."

Where's the manipulation? Francovic specifically stated that Obama's supporters are far more "enthusiastic", and that's true. She wasn't talking about whether the candidates supporters are "satisfied" with their candidate. Frankovic was quite explicit on that point...where's the deception and untruthfulness.

Just who is manipulating statistics to make a political point?

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Undecided:

The issue I had with the article was not who was most "enthusiastic" but rather in putting forward the notion that so many are dissatisfied and angry about McCain.

Out of context, this looks really bad, but when the rest of the data is revealed... one realizes that those "angry" with their nominee are EQUAL (1%) for both McCain and Obama!!! In how Frankovic quoted the partial statistics, she was deliberately misleading.

What if someone wrote that only 42% are "satisfied" with Obama compared to 68% for McCain? Yes, a false impression given by using partial data. Again this would be deliberately misleading.

And that is my point. Context (i.e. full reporting of the statistics in a category) are important. And ergo I was not making a political point, but rather critiquing the journalist.

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cinnamonape:

"What if someone wrote that only 42% are "satisfied" with Obama compared to 68% for McCain? Yes, a false impression given by using partial data. Again this would be deliberately misleading."

But Frankovic didn't do that when she talked about the "dissatisified/angry" categories did she. She combined them - she didn't separate them out in the distorted manner you suggest (leaving out a higher category).

There was no deliberate distortion. The two categories were used in the poll and both candidates had their "dissatisfied/angry" categories reported.

This is no different than combining "Excellent" and "Good" categories in summarizing a Presidents "approval rating".

And it does demonstrate that a substantially larger number of "SUPPORTERS" are dissatisfied with McCain as their parties nominee. In fact, over twice as many.

BTW The "angry" category seems to me to be a bit of "behavioral response" noise...why would anyone who is "angry" at a candidate BE a "supporter" of that candidate...unless 1% of the population are masochists?
"I hate him but I'm gonna vote for him"? As they say, there's one in every crowd.

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