Wisconsin: The Democrat-Killing Enthusiasm Gap

Public Policy Polling’s survey of Wisconsin suggests that Scott Walker is winning his recall election. Not really a surprise right now. But what about that presidential number? It’s got Obama up only one point on Mitt Romney, closer to the 2004 Kerry-Bush squeaker than the 2008 landslide Obama won in the state.

Should it worry Obama? Possibly. Should it worry the recall campaign Democrats? Oh, yes. Look at the internals. PPP’s sample found that 28 percent of likely voters were Democrats, and 35 percent were Republicans. In 2008, 39 percent of voters were Democrats and only 33 percent were Republicans. That’s a 13-point swing. In PPP’s poll, 17 percent of voters call themselves liberals and 41 percent call themselves conservatives. In 2008, the exit poll numbers were 23 percent and 31 percent – an 8-point conservative lead, not a 24-point lead.

When I journeyed to Wisconsin last week, I saw a surge of public support for Walker – signs, bumper stickers, little tokens like those – unlike anything I’ve ever seen in a non-presidential race. The polling bears this out. It’s not necessarily doom-saying for Obama. It does explain why the DNC is quietly backing away from the race. Easier to give up then to try and narrow this enthusiasm gap twice.