Neil Newhouse, the pollster for 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, said in a new memo that signs are pointing toward a possible Republican wave in the fall — but cautioned the party that relying too much on “voter enthusiasm” could be perilous.
“Nearly without exception, Republicans are more excited, enthusiastic and energized about voting in the November election than their Democratic counterparts,” Mr. Newhouse wrote, pointing to recent polling that gives Republican voters sizable edges in enthusiasm or interest in this year’s midterms.
“The straight-forward conclusion is that this enthusiasm gap will play out at the voting booths in November, resulting in widespread GOP gains, led by a takeover of the U.S. Senate,” he continued in the memo, titled “The Enthusiasm Gap, Overrated” that was published on the firm Public Opinion Strategies’ website.
But, Mr. Newhouse added, polls ahead of the 2012 elections showed Republicans were significantly more excited to vote than Democrats — a gap he says President Obama and Democrats managed to counter by herding “unenthusiastic” voters to the polls and rendering any “enthusiasm gap” meaningless.
“There’s a significant lesson here for GOP candidates this fall. Don’t assume that GOP voter ‘enthusiasm’ will carry your campaigns to victory,” he concludes. “A campaign’s ‘ground-game’ is more important than ever, and in order to win key races this fall, we’re going to need more than just those GOP enthusiastic voters to go to the polls.”
Internal polls from Mr. Romney’s camp showed him pulling ahead in several key swing states during the final days of the 2012 campaign, and similarly optimistic Republican polls and pollsters ultimately became one of the major stories in the aftermath of Mr. Obama’s re-election and underwhelming performances from down-ballot Republicans.