Obama's support in 2008

The level of Democratic enthusiasm for voting for President Obama again has dropped noticeably in PPP’s recent polling. From Tom Jensen:

Only 48% of Democrats on our most recent national survey said they were ‘very excited’ about voting in 2012. On the survey before that the figure was 49%. Those last two polls are the only times all year the ‘very excited’ number has dipped below 50%.

In 13 polls before August the average level of Democrats ‘very excited’ about voting next year had averaged 57%. It had been as high as 65% and only twice had the number even dipped below 55%.

It had seemed earlier in the year like Democrats had overcome the ‘enthusiasm gap’ that caused so much of their trouble in last year’s elections. But now 54% of Republicans say they’re ‘very excited’ about casting their ballots next year, indicating that the problem may be back.

These people who were formerly “very excited” to vote for Obama will probably show up at the polls on election day and vote for Obama. The problem is that they aren’t likely to volunteer for the campaign.

The 2008 Obama campaign benefited from millions of manhours of free volunteer labor. And beyond official volunteering, being very excited about a candidate also makes people more likely to defend them in casual conversation and prod family and friends to vote. If this 10 point drop in excitement translates into, say, a 30 percent reduction in volunteer hours, that is serious blow to the campaign.