News ID: 231672
Published: 0248 GMT September 21, 2018

Democrats' enthusiasm to blunt Trump soars for congressional election: Reuters/Ipsos poll

Democrats' enthusiasm to blunt Trump soars for congressional election: Reuters/Ipsos poll
Carol Donovan/

Carol Donovan became convinced 2018 could be a good year for Democrats in Dallas County, Texas, when so many enthusiasts jammed into the party’s annual fish fry fundraiser last October that they ran out of catfish.

What the county Democratic chair Donovan saw at the event is backed up by a new Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll, which found enthusiasm among Democrats is soaring ahead of elections on Nov. 6 that will determine whether Republicans maintain control over the US Congress.

Across almost all demographic groups, more Democrats say they are certain to vote compared to poll results in 2014, the last non-presidential election year.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll has been tracking Americans’ interest in voting since 2010 and the polling on voter enthusiasm is built on data spanning 2014 to 2018, including data not readily available elsewhere.

White women Democrats over the age of 60 are leading the way: 74 percent said they are certain to vote on Nov. 6, up 18 percentage points from four years ago.

Among Republicans, 64 percent of older white women expressed certainty to vote, down 4 points from 2014 and a shift in the enthusiasm gap of 22 percentage points.

It is not just older women expressing an eagerness to vote.

The opinion poll, conducted from Aug. 20 to Sept. 16, found that Democrats have the edge in enthusiasm within most major demographic groups: college graduates, people between 18 and 34 years old - the so-called millennial generation - and mid-career adults.

Even among groups often thought to favor US President Donald Trump, a Republican, like whites without a college degree and avid church goers, those who identify as Democrats are more interested in voting this year, while Republicans are not.

Enthusiasm is everything in the congressional elections, when turnout is typically lower than when the White House is also up for grabs. Only about four in 10 voting-age Americans bother to cast ballots compared to about six in 10 when it is.

When voters in one party are especially determined to be heard in a congressional election, it can swing control of the US House of Representatives and the Senate.

In 2010, for example, months after Democrats passed President Barack Obama’s healthcare legislation, a surge in turnout among Republican voters helped their party retake the House, according to data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, a survey run by a consortium of academic institutions.

It is not unusual for the party out of power to have a greater interest in voting, said Jan Leighley, a political scientist at American University. But Trump cranks the interest level even higher among Democrats this year, she said, because he’s “undoing everything that Obama did – just trashing Obama’s record. That’s going to raise the stakes for Democrats.”

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