Thursday, October 07, 2010

Nate Silver: Understanding and Misunderstanding the ‘Enthusiasm Gap’

Nate Silver:
From the standpoint of explaining voter behavior, however, the relative standing of the two parties only tells us part of the story: it’s also worth thinking about, in absolute terms, how committed each party’s voters are to the midterms. The enthusiasm gap could mean one of two things:

  • It could mean that Democrats were particularly unenthusiastic, relative to a typical midterm election year — whereas Republican enthusiasm was about average. That would produce an enthusiasm gap, and would tell us a story about a depressed (or dissatisfied, or complacent) Democratic base.
  • Or, it could mean that Republicans were unusually excited about the elections, while Democratic enthusiasm was just at par. That would also produce an enthusiasm gap. But it would be much more a story about Republican excitement than one about disarray in the Democratic base.

In fact, it’s the latter explanation that seems to hold this year. The enthusiasm gap has more to do with abnormally high levels of Republican interest in the election than with despondent Democrats. MORE...

H/t to Ari Melber.

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