Source: The New York Times Opinion Pages
You gotta have faith.
Democrats have it. Republicans don't. That is the finding of a USA Today/Gallup poll that was released on Tuesday.
The poll found that:
Fifty-six percent of Americans think Barack Obama will win the 2012 presidential election, compared with 36 percent who think Mitt Romney will win. Democrats are more likely to believe that Obama will win than Republicans are to believe Romney will. Independents are nearly twice as likely to think that Obama, rather than Romney, will prevail.
This comes at a time when voter preference between the two candidates is roughly even. It highlights the ever-present Republican anxiety and unease with the candidate they have. How skewed is this difference in confidence? The poll found that Republicans are twice as likely to believe that Obama will win than Democrats are likely to believe that Romney will win.
This no doubt has something to do with the power of the incumbency and Obama's still rather high likability numbers. But it's probably also because Republicans still don't love Romney. A different USA Today/Gallup poll, released on Monday, found that more than a third of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents still say that they are not satisfied with Romney as the nominee and would have preferred another candidate.
By contrast, 80 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said that they were happy with Obama.
This is utterly unsurprising. Romney is the most awkward, clumsy Republican nominee since Bob Dole in 1996. For the record, Gallup points out that "in an August 1996 poll, Americans overwhelmingly believed incumbent Bill Clinton (69 percent) would defeat Bob Dole (24 percent)." What's past is prologue.
Furthermore, a Washington Times/JZ Analytics poll released Sunday found a sizeable enthusiasm gap favoring the president. As the Washington Times reported:
Of those backing Mr. Obama, 64 percent said it is because they feel he deserves to be re-elected, while only 11 percent said they are trying to deny Mr. Romney the spot, another 11 percent said they are supporting the nominated Democrat, and 9 percent said the president is the "lesser of two evils."
For Romney, the news was not so good:
Less than half of his backers said they are supporting him because they think he is the best candidate. Nearly 20 percent said they are voting to deny Mr. Obama another term, and an additional 19 percent said Mr. Romney is the "lesser of two evils." A final 10 percent said they are backing whomever the G.O.P. offered up.
Why does all this matter? Because, as Gallup points out, "Americans' predictions of the four prior presidential elections were also generally accurate." Rather surprisingly, "Americans are a bit more likely now to say Obama has a better chance of winning than they were at a similar point in 2008."
Now this certainly does not guarantee an Obama victory. Polls check present sentiments. They can't predict the future. The farther you are away from Election Day, the more time voters have to change their minds.
Also, believing that your candidate has the race in the bag can have a dulling effect on the importance of showing up to vote.
But these numbers do point to a real problem for Romney. Many of Obama's supporters are devout believers. Romney can't claim the same. And that imbalance tends to have a real effect on Election Day.