Jonathan Chait

November Prediction: Pain

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A Gallup poll shows that the enthusiasm gap between Republicans and Democrats seems to be narrowing:

Jonathan Bernstein cites this as one reason why I might be too bearish on the Democrats' midterm prospects. Well, maybe. On the other hand, we had a good test of Democratic enthusiasm on Tuesday, and once again it looks bleak:

Turnout among Dem voters dropped precipitously in 3 statewide primaries on Tuesday, giving the party more evidence that their voters lack enthusiasm ahead of midterm elections.

In primaries in NC, IN and OH, Dems turned out at far lower rates than they have in previous comparable elections.

Just 663K OH voters cast ballots in the competitive primary between LG Lee Fisher (D) and Sec/State Jennifer Brunner (D). That number is lower than the 872K voters who turned out in '06, when neither Gov. Ted Strickland (D) nor Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) faced serious primary opponents.

Only 425K voters turned out to pick a nominee against Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC). The 14.4% turnout was smaller than the 444K voters -- or 18% of all registered Dem voters -- who turned out in '04, when Gov. Mike Easley (D) faced only a gadfly candidate in his bid to be renominated for a second term.

And in IN, just 204K Hoosiers voted for Dem House candidates, far fewer than the 357K who turned out in '02 and the 304K who turned out in '06.

By contrast, GOP turnout was up almost across the board.

I agree with Bernstein that the Democrats do have a chance to have a non-catastrophic election if the economy continues to rebound. But it's pretty clear that the current trajectory is pointing to an epic GOP blowout. Democrats need a pretty sharp change in that trajectory. So my prediction remains the same:

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