A Gallup poll that has tracked voter enthusiasm since 2000 shows Republicans with a small but noteworthy lead.
As of today, Republican enthusiasm sits at 65 percent, compared to 64 percent for Democrats.
You might argue that a single point lead is meaningless. But here’s the rub…
It’s not supposed to be like this.
The party with the incumbent president is almost always running behind in voter enthusiasm. The reasons for this should be obvious: the other side is more juiced to win back the White House.
Back in 2000, when Democrats were coming off two terms of Democrat Bill Clinton, the GOP had a 51 to 39 percent enthusiasm edge — 12 points.
In 2004, when Republican George W. Bush ran for reelection, Democrats had a 73 to 62 percent lead — 11 points.
In 2008, after two Bush terms, Democrats were up 73 to 59 percent — 14 points.
In 2012, as Democrat Barack Obama sought his second term, Republicans were up 70 to 59 — 11 points.
In 2016, after two Obama terms, the GOP was up 51 to 43 — 8 points.
In every case since 2000, the party out of power did not just enjoy a lead in enthusiasm, with the exception of 2016; it enjoyed a double-digit lead. But here we are going into 2020, and the party in power, the GOP, is not only plenty enthusiastic; it is in the lead.
What’s more, we are seeing a big jump since the 2018 midterms, a jump from 51 to 66 for the Republicans and a jump from 48 to 65 percent for Democrats.
So what’s different this time?
A number of things…
Unlike Bush Jr., Trump is determined to hold on to his base. Clinton and Obama governed this way. Bush did not, and the results of that, during his second term (Katrina plus immigration reform), were catastrophic.
Trump has wisely embraced the Clinton/Obama game plan that says you always dance with them that brung ya.
Secondly, of course, is this absurd and outrageous impeachment, which is being exposed every day as a full-blown Deep State-Media-Democrat coup, a straight-up conspiracy, and this is almost certainly creating a rallying effect around Trump.
Finally, the Democrat presidential field is in every way terrible. Former Vice President Joe Biden is too old, represents the past, and not very bright. Elizabeth Warren is a non-starter with her pledge to strip 160 million Americans of their private health insurance as she more than doubles the federal budget with her $52 trillion — with a “T” — Medicare for All fiasco. Bernie Sanders is a 198-year-old commie with a bum ticker.
There is no Barack Obama in this field. There is no Ronald Reagan. There is no Bill Clinton. There is no Donald Trump. There is no superstar who screams This Is the Future — just a bunch of old socialists. Alphas win presidential elections, and there is not an alpha in the bunch.
On paper, and until she opens her mouth, Kamala Harris looks every inch the superstar. But she flamed out as soon as the spotlight revealed her crippling flaws and lack of intelligence.
A word of caution: we don’t know what this poll will look like a year from now. Nevertheless, it is more than noteworthy now, and it is difficult to imagine a scenario, other than a deep recession, that changes these numbers. But with most economic indicators on the upswing, a recession seems less likely than it did three months ago when the media were literally begging for a recession.
In fact, it is much easier to game out scenarios where enthusiasm for Trump actually increases, especially if Democrats jump off that cliff and vote to impeach. This impeachment process is such an outrageous and infuriating abuse of power, so obscenely anti-democratic, and Trump will continue to be effective at communicating that point.
It is also worth pointing out that this enthusiasm poll did not predict the outcome of the 2004 and 2012 elections. Democrats had an 11-point lead in ’04, and Democrat John Kerry still lost to Bush. Republicans also had an 11-point lead in 2012, and Republican Mitt Romney still lost to Obama.
But this might also reveal a couple of things in Trump’s favor: 1) it is difficult to knock out an incumbent president and 2) candidates matter. Kerry and Romney were terrible candidates, unappealing elitists backed by terrible campaigns. Trump, on the other hand, is a terrific campaigner, and from the looks of it, his Democrat opponent will be another Romney or Kerry.