JONATHAN COHN SEPTEMBER 23, 2010
The new Pew Poll is getting a lot of attention, because it shows that the independent voters likely to show up on Election Day prefer Republicans by a large margin, 49 percent to 36 percent. And likely voters on the whole prefer the Republicans by 50 to 43.
It's a different story with registered voters: Independents still favor the Republicans, but only by a small margin (3 points). And voters overall actually prefer the Democrats, 47 percent to 43.
I'm not Nate Silver, so maybe I'm missing something obvious here. But the results would appear to confirm what we've been seeing for weeks: Voters who lean Republican are a lot more enthusiastic than those who lean Democratic. And that will make for a very, very rough election.
Update: Ed Kilgore e-mails with the following observation:
Keep in mind that part of this has little to do with feelings about Obama, but instead reflects a completely normal gap in midterm turnout patterns, particularly in terms of voter age. In other words, Dems are paying a price for the heavy dependence on younger voters in 2008 which is so promising in the long run.
Ed has written about this before at the Democratic Strategist. And it's worth listening to him. He knows a lot more about this than I do.