Seventy percent of registered Republican voters questioned in a CBS News poll conducted late last month said they are very or somewhat excited about voting in November, compared to 58% of Democrats. Only 47% of independent voters said they’re very or somewhat excited to cast ballots in the midterms. And 81% of registered Republicans said they’ll definitely vote in November, compared to 68% of registered Democrats.
This is hardly surprise, given that the GOP has become a party of extremists: religious extremists, ideological extremists, ethnic nationalist extremists, and so forth. Extremists by definition, are more “enthusiastic,” shall we say, than the run of the mill person on the street. This is why “enthusiastic” minorities have been able time and again to triumph over what we commonly think of as the silent majority (i.e. the rest of us).
The poll shows the electorate evenly split between those who want a Republican-controlled or a Democratic-controlled Congress, as does an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Tuesday. The latter poll shows a close to even split as well when asked if they think most Democrats or Republicans in Congress deserve to be re-elected, or not, with 30 yes/60 no for Democrats and, more ominously, 25 yes/65 no for Republicans.
Now keep in mind that the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll talked to 100 people, 73 of them white. But the United States is not 73 percent white. Sure, the 2010 Census showed whites constitute 72.4 percent of the population but when you take away Hispanics who describe themselves as white, that percentage drops to 63.7 percent, and you really do have to take the lower number, since you don’t find many Republicans today who think Hispanics are white, and Latinos know it and vote accordingly (Obama got 71 percent of the Hispanic vote).
Only 12 of the 100 polled were black, and Obama got 93 percent of the black vote. You can bet your bottom dollar that Republicans have done nothing to tear blacks from the Democratic Party, given the reent outburst of two rich whites, Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling, and the vehement defense mounted on their behalf by many on the right. Just four of those polled were Asian, but Obama got 73 percent of the Asian vote as well. Creepy old white people are enthusiastically Republican because being Republican these days means you can own a gun and wave it around scaring people, as happened recently in Georgia, and marry your sister or your neighbor’s 15-year-old daughter.
The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows lukewarm receptivity toward the Republican Party and Tea Party, with just 7 people admitting “very positive” feelings toward the Tea Party movement, and just 6 with the same feelings toward the Republican Party. On the other hand, 13 people have very positive feelings toward the Democratic Party. In total, the GOP got 25 positives and the Tea Party 22, but the Democratic Party got 36. It doesn’t matter how intense you are at the polling place if you vote.
And if Obama’s poll numbers are way down (the ABC News/Washington Post poll shows Obama’s approval at 41, while 52 percent disapprove), it isn’t Obama Republicans will be running against in 2016, but probably Hilary Clinton, who repeatedly trounces every Republican you care to name, and the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll Hilary gets 23 very positives and 25 somewhat positives. That’s 48 positives, while only 32 people out of 100 had negative feelings toward Hilary (Rand Paul gets only 23 total positives).
More telling yet, the ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that regardless of how people feel about individuals, 40 percent of people feel Democrats do a “better job in coping with the main problems the nation faces over the next few years” while only 34 percent can say the same of the Republicans. This edge extends, unsurprisingly, to healthcare, with the Democrats leading 43-35, immigration (40-34), and Democrats still have the edge where the economy is concerned as well (41-38). For some reason Republican propaganda has triumphed where the deficit is concerned, despite all their wasteful hearings and repeal attempts (Republican edge 44-35) but those polled overwhelmingly trusted the Democrats to do right by the middle class (52-32).
Being Republican is an excuse to behave badly (look at the armed “Bundy” militias harassing residents near his ranch). And every year were have fewer creepy old white people and more millennials who are seen to be “post-race,” “post-gender” and post all those other culture war artifacts Republicans talk so much about. As Race Forward points out, “The “Millennial Generation” (born post-1980, ages 18-30) is the largest, most racially and ethnically diverse generation the US has ever known.”
Alarmingly, the ABC News/Washington Post poll shows the Democrats lead in views toward abortion (43-35) and gay marriage (45-31) and minimum wage (49-33) and global warming (47-29). The Republican Party has made all these areas key issues in past elections and the upcoming elections promise to be more of the same as the Republicans, rather than broadening their tent, insist on doubling down on their extremism.
The Republicans may have an edge in enthusiasm. As I said, they’re fanatics. We expect that. Democrats don’t run around with guns harassing people. But where the issues are concerned, the Republicans have issued themselves out of the running.
And that’s bad news for the GOP this year and in 2016.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.