Republicans are less enthusiastic about voting for president in 2012, according to a new Gallup survey released early Thursday, suggesting that the turnout advantage they enjoyed in last year's midterm elections may be waning.
Forty-nine percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they are more enthusiastic than usual about voting, compared to 44 percent who say they are less enthusiastic. In a mid-September survey, 58 percent of Republicans were more enthusiastic, while just 30 percent said they were less enthusiastic.
While the gap may be narrowing, Democrats' enthusiasm has not increased accordingly: 44 percent say they are more enthusiastic (compared to 45 percent in September), while 47 percent say they are less enthusiastic.
Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport posits that the closing of the enthusiasm gap -- from 13 points to 5 -- "could reflect the intensive and bruising battle" for the GOP presidential nomination and "the rapid rise and fall of various candidates" therein. But if enthusiasm among Republicans continues to decrease, it could have effects beyond the presidential election, potentially threatening the GOP's ability to take control of the Senate and maintain or increase its majority in the House.
Other surveys have showed a wider gap between the parties, including Quinnipiac polls also released early Thursday that showed registered Republicans more enthusiastic than Democrats about voting in Florida (by a 24-point margin), Ohio (27-point margin) and Pennsylvania (20-point margin).
The Gallup poll was conducted Nov. 28-Dec., surveying 437 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, and 464 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. The margin of error for each sample is +/- 4.7 percent and +/- 4.5 percent, respectively.