Via USA Today, the latest USA TODAY/Gallup Swing States Poll has more bad news for Barack Obama and Democrats as the enthusiasm gap between parties, which favored Democrats in 2008 has swung towards Republicans.
And the "enthusiasm gap" that helped fuel a Democratic victory last time has turned into a Republican asset. Sixty-one percent of Republicans say they are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting for president next year, compared with 47% of Democrats.
Among the most enthusiastic are some of the GOP's core voters: conservatives, middle-aged men and those 50 to 64 years old. Those who are least enthused include core Democratic groups that were critical to Obama's election in 2008, including minorities and younger voters.
Another finding in the poll shows the ideological makeup of America where self identified Conservatives more than double those that self identify as Liberal.
But the nation's ideological makeup creates more stress for Democrats than Republicans. In the 12 swing states identified by USA TODAY, 44% of those surveyed are conservatives, more than double the 21% who call themselves liberal.
To win a majority, the GOP needs to attract the lion's share of conservatives plus only a fraction of the 35% who call themselves moderates.
In contrast, the Democratic candidate has to claim the solid support not only of liberals but also most of the moderates.
By and large, the majority of Conservatives will coalesce behind the GOP nominee once one wins the Republican nomination as the majority of Democrats will unite behind Obama.
Which brings us to a key voting bloc... Independents.
According to Gallup in August of 2011, more Independents consider themselves Conservative than they do Liberal.
By 44% to 35%, more independents are moderate than conservative -- with the percentage conservative continuing to be a notch higher than it was from 2000 to 2008. Another 20% are liberal, similar to the national average. Conservatism among independents increased fairly sharply in 2009, from 30% to 35%, largely explaining the expansion of conservatism nationally at that time, and it has held at that level since then.
With Republicans being more enthused than Democrats, self identified Conservatives doubling Liberals, and a 15% Republican lead over Democrats within the Independent bloc of voters, Barack Obama's reelection prospects continue to dwindle.
(Cartoon via Google images)