According to Pew Research poll, enthusiasm among Democratic voters at this time in the midterm cycle is the lowest it has been in years. Only 37 percent of those who plan to vote for a Democratic candidate say they are more enthusiastic about this year than they have been in past Congressional elections. By comparison, 45 percent of Republican voters are more enthusiastic about voting this time.
While the enthusiasm gap is not as large as it was in 2010, that was a historic wave election for Republicans which saw them take control of the House. Slightly better than terrible is still really bad.
Much of the Democrats’ support comes from young voters who they are winning by nine points, but they are also the age group which is less likely to turn out in a non-presidential election. On the other hand, Republicans hold a six-point lead among senior citizens who are one of the most reliable voting blocs in the country.
Democrats have tried to seize on several issues to engage their voters, ranging from the birth control mandate to the minimum wage, but nothing seems to be working very well so far.
In addition to the big enthusiasm gap, Democrats are battling upstream against serious structural handicaps this election. In the Senate they are defending way more seats than the Republicans, and in the House gerrymandering has produced a huge built-in edge for the GOP. Even if Democrats narrowly win the popular vote in the House of Representatives, the current design of congressional districts will result in Republicans winning more seats.