It was clear in 2009 that Democrats were headed into a world of hurt, and the warning indicator was the growing intensity gap between Republicans and Democratic partisan voters. So, as we look toward 2012, it bears watching what those numbers look like today.
From this week's Daily Kos-SEIU State of the Nation Poll:
Very Somewhat Not at all
Democrat 52 31 17
Republican 61 25 14
Ind/Other 48 24 28
Now, the wording of the question is tied to the presidential election, and it's clear that conservatives want nothing short of defeating the Kenyan socialist godless communist Muslim in the White House (who is half-white, so it's not racism!). Meanwhile, progressives are more or less resigned that Obama is about as good as it'll get for us. But would we crawl over hot coals or broken glass for him? Eh. For many, it'll depend on who the GOP puts up. (My fearless prediction? Someone crazy.)
On the other hand, there's palpable impatience in progressive circles for election day to arrive, not because of the top of the ticket, but because we want to beat back conservatives in the House, Senate, and state- and local-level elections. In other words, it's the bottom of the ticket that may provide coattails to Obama among certain progressive voters.
Nothing wrong with that. In fact, one of the greatest accomplishments we've made as a movement this year is moving beyond the White House and realizing that we don't need Obama to make change happen. Look at what happened in Wisconsin. That's a good thing, whether you're in the Obama Rox or Obama Sux camps (and the most-rational everyone else who realizes that the question isn't a binary one). We've stopped looking for a savior, and started realizing that if things are to get better, it'll have to come from ourselves.
That said, if I'm Obama's team, I'm not particularly enthused about voter intensity numbers showing your base voters less engaged than the opposition, with the reelection season already upon us.