Democrats’ Engagement Problem
The polling is looking bad for Democrats at the moment, but not because the country as a whole likes the Republican party better. The problem for Democrats is that they are losing because they can’t convince many of the people that marginally prefer them to vote this year.
The recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll highlights the problem. Among people who are likely to vote this year, 46 percent would prefer that this election result in a Republican controlled Congress while 44 percent want a Democratic controlled Congress. Yet among all adults who are registered to vote, 46 percent would prefer Democrats control Congress next year while only 42 percent want Republicans to control it.
Trying to engage registered voters and close the gap between registered voters and likely voters has become one of the Democrats biggest problems as their coalition has become younger and therefore less reliable.
Keeping this gap as large as possible is a Republican goal. While Republican pushes for voter ID laws can significantly hurt low income people and those that live in urban environments has gotten a lot of attention because of the civil rights and legal implications, this aspect of it doesn’t get talked about as much.
Weakly engaged voters tend to lean Democratic so every small hurdle for voting that Republicans can create helps them. Even if a hurdle is only a relatively modest financial or logistical issue for most people, every extra inconvenience will cause some fraction of adults to give up and that indirectly helps the GOP.
Picture from Kristin Ausk licensed under Creative Commons