Gallup summarizes the difference between Democrats' enthusiasm and Republicans' enthusiasm by plotting the difference in the two groups' net enthusiasm scores and determined that the Democrats' relative enthusiasm is the lowest in a decade.
Democrats' net enthusiasm (+1) now trails Republicans' net enthusiasm (+28) by 27 percentage points. By contrast, Democrats held the advantage on net enthusiasm throughout 2008 -- on several occasions, by better than 40-point margins. Democrats occasionally trailed Republicans in net enthusiasm in 2004, but never by as much as is seen today. The current balance of enthusiasm among Republicans and Democrats is similar to what Gallup found in the first few months of 2000.
Gallup's bottom line:
Gallup's initial -- and early -- reading on Republicans' and Democrats' enthusiasm for 2012 indicates the emotional climate surrounding that election could be quite different from the climate in 2008, when Democrat Barack Obama won, partly owing to supermajority support from several groups. Democrats' current enthusiasm about voting is not only lower than it was in 2008, but lower than in 2004, when Republican George W. Bush won re-election.
While Gallup has not been able to establish a statistical link between heightened enthusiasm and greater turnout in past elections, the party with the enthusiasm advantage generally tends to fare better. Given that President Obama's job approval rating continues to hover around 40% and that he appears vulnerable in the general election, it is not surprising that Democrats are currently less enthusiastic than Republicans about voting in 2012. However, should this pattern continue well into next year, it could be an important indicator of which way the election will go.
There is over a year to go before the presidential election and much can happen. Polls are great for establishing patterns and trends but the actual numbers are just a snapshot into how people are feeling at the moment.
Since unemployment, federal deficit, budget and the economy seem to be the priorities Americans list as key issues, then it is safe to assume that these numbers will fluctuate over the next year, but without a massive change in trajectory on unemployment figures and economic improvement, the downward pattern itself will be hard for Obama and Democrats to turn around.