Saturday, October 2, 2010

Latinos, Blacks bridging "enthusiasm gap"

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll earlier in the week found that African Americans and Blacks are helping erase the "enthusiasm gap" mentioned so often in the press.  The growing excitement among those groups is also narrowing the margin between Democrats and Republicans in the generic polls for the House of Representatives.

Recent statements by President Obama and other prominent Democrats also indicate the the level of excitement among Democrats is rising rapidly.  The most recent Newsweek poll shows the Democrats up in the generic ballot by five percent among registered voters. Attendance at rallies like the recent appearance of Obama in Wisconsin that attracted about 26,000 people also provide more evidence that the enthusiasm gap is narrowing quickly.

The level of enthusiasm among minority voters can play a big role in these elections.  What may end up happening is that in states and districts where Republicans are expected to win, they will simply win by larger margins that usual.  However, in other areas where the races are closer and where there are large minority communities, a better than expected turnout among these groups could lead to Democratic victories.

We've seen the same phenomenon before and it's related to the dual factors of the greater diversity of the Democratic Party and the segregated nature of many districts and even some whole states.  If the energy level among minority voters continues to spike, we may even see unexpected gains for the Democrats.

Latino voters can make a big difference, for example, in the big senate races in California, pitting Sen. Barbara Boxer against Carly Fiorina, and in Nevada, where Sen. Harry Reid is facing Sharon Angle.  Black and Asian Pacific Islander voters will also make a significant difference in those races.  African American voters will be more prominent in states like Illinois, Pennsylvania and Florida.  Indeed, we may see a new enthusiasm gap -- this time with Democrats leading as the more motivated party.

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