On the surface, this looks like horrible news for Democrats: the enthusiasm gap was the largest in precisely those states that a Democrat (or a Republican for that matter) needs to win the Presidency.
But there is something else to keep in mind. Mr. Obama’s campaign had a terris ific turnout operation, and — like any good turnout operation — it was concentrated in swing states. Mr. McCain’s campaign, by contrast, de-emphasized its “ground game” (a mistake that Karl Rove and George W. Bush would never have made), hoping to nationalize the election and win on the basis of television commercials.
What we’re probably seeing, then, is the “hangover” from the Mr. Obama’s turnout efforts in 2008. In states like Ohio and New Hampshire and Indiana, where Democrats registered tons of new voters and made sure that all of them got to the polls, a lot of them didn’t participate this time around. In other states, the electorate wasn’t much different and the people who were voting this year strongly resembled those who voted in 2010 — although Republicans still did better because the preferences of independent voters shifted toward them.
This sort of phenomenon is actually quite typical. In general, the bigger a President’s coattails, the more his party tends to suffer at the next midterm.
The key question for 2012 is whether those new voters will re-enter the electorate when Mr. Obama is on the ballot again. If so, Democrats should be in reasonably good shape — and they’ll also win back quite a few of the House seats that they lost in these states.
If not, however — or if Republicans are able to build a get-out-the-vote effort that is the equal of Mr. Obama’s — we could be up very late into the evening counting votes on Nov. 6, 2012.
This is a role where The Tea Party Movement can help supply the volunteers in key battleground states.
Time to organize. The data is there.