Presidential Enthusiasm Gap Swings To GOP But Swing State Independents Will Be Key

The vast enthusiasm gap that swept President Barack Obama into office in 2008 is turning against him. The key for the enventual Republican presidential nominee will be to capture independents in the 2012 swing states. USA Today's Susan Page has more:

[T]he "enthusiasm gap" that helped fuel a Democratic victory last time has turned into a Republican asset. Sixty-one percent of Republicans say they are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting for president next year, compared with 47% of Democrats.

Among the most enthusiastic are some of the GOP's core voters: conservatives, middle-aged men and those 50 to 64 years old. Those who are least enthused include core Democratic groups that were critical to Obama's election in 2008, including minorities and younger voters.

In swing states, Obama trails former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney among registered voters by 5 points, 43% vs. 48%, and former House speaker Newt Gingrich by 3, 45% vs. 48%.

This is the second in a series of surveys that USA TODAY and Gallup will be taking through the 2012 campaign focused on 12 swing states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Most other states and the District of Columbia are all but guaranteed to be won by one party or the other, giving Obama a likely base of 196 electoral votes and the Republican nominee a base of 191. A candidate needs 270 to win the White House.

The decline in the number of voters who identify themselves as Democrats — and the rise in those who call themselves independents — complicates the president's re-election strategy.

In the swing states, the number of self-identified Democrats (not including those who lean Democratic) fell from 35% to 30% since 2008. The number of independents rose 7 points, 35% to 42%.

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published this page in In The News 2011-12-13 14:29:21 -0500
Analysis & Political Strategy