Voters Less Amped Than in Early ’08, But Prez Race Interest Still High

Posted June 23, 2008 at 6:45pm

Gallup is used to seeing a drop in voter enthusiasm in post-primary polling periods. But a Gallup poll released today shows a sharper drop in voter enthusiasm since early February of this year than in similar points during the 2004 and 2000 presidential election cycles.

With a drop of 15 percentage points nationally since this year’s Super Tuesday presidential primaries and caucuses, only 48 percent of respondents in today’s poll results said they are “more enthusiastic than usual about voting.” There was a drop of 6 percentage points among both Republicans and Democrats in 2000, and an 8 percentage-point drop for Republicans in 2004.

Yet even though both major parties this year seem afflicted by the dropoff, the “enthusiasm gap” detected by many political analysts ‘ based largely on the vastly greatly turnout for Democratic primaries than Republican contests ‘ appears to still be a factor.

In February, 79 percent of Democrats, a Gallup record, said they were more enthusiastic about voting. Even with a falloff to 61 percent, Democratic enthusiasm remains at a high level from a historical perspective. On the other hand, the much smaller portion of Republicans, 35 percent, who say they are more enthusiastic than usual about voting is the lowest Gallup has measured for the GOP at any time during the this and the past two cycles.

Although some voters say they are less excited about voting in November, that doesn’t mean that many of them are tuning out the elections altogether. A hefty majority ‘ 75 percent of respondents ‘ say they have given “quite a lot of thought” to the election. Those levels of “thought” are significantly higher than they were in either June 2004 (67 percent) or June 2000 (45 percent). Gallup’s analysis, based on the connection between how much Americans thought about previous elections and the actual voter participation in those contests, “suggests 2008 will be another high-turnout election year.”

Results based on the sample of 1,460 registered voters have a margin of error of ‘3 percentage points.