Forty percent of self-identified Democratic voters say they are "not likely" or "definitely" won't vote in next year's Congressional elections, according to a little-noticed poll released over the Thanksgiving weekend.
The poll, which surveyed 2,400 Americans nationwide between Nov. 22 and Nov. 25, found that self-identified Republicans were three times more likely to say they were going to vote next year. The results suggest perilous fights for Democrats in the midterm elections, where the president's party typically lose seats.
Democratic leaders still have an almost 15-point edge in favorability ratings over their Republican counterparts: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has a 41 percent voter approval rating and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) clocks in at 31, whereas Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) draws just 15 percent support to House Minority Leader John Boehner's (R-OH) 14 percent. President Obama's favorability rating sits at 53 percent, according to the poll.
But blogger Steve Benen pulled out the key figures from the question, ""In the 2010 Congressional elections will you definitely vote, probably vote, not likely vote, or definitely will not vote?"
Among self-identified Republican voters, 81% are either "definitely" voting next year or "probably" voting, while 14% are "not likely" to vote or will "definitely" not vote.
Among self-identified Independent voters, 65% are either "definitely" voting next year or "probably" voting, while 23% are "not likely" to vote or will "definitely" not vote.
And among self-identified Democratic voters, 56% are either "definitely" voting next year or "probably" voting, while 40% are "not likely" to vote or will "definitely" not vote.
A Daily Kos blogger, who wrote up details from the poll (conducted by Research 2000 for the liberal blog site) called the disparate figures between Republican and Democratic likely voters an "enormous enthusiasm gap."
"This enormous enthusiasm gap... seems to make passing legitimate health care reform an absolute political necessity for Democrats," wrote blogger Steve Sinsiger. "This polling data certainly should be something for Congressional leadership to consider, as they move along the legislative path.
The support for Democrats over Republicans has narrowed, the poll also finds.
Nationally, Democrats now enjoy a 37 percent favorability rating on the handling of Congress, to Republicans' 32 percent.
Benen's advice for Democrats in trouble?
"Finish health care," he writes. "Pass a jobs bill. Finish the climate bill. Re-regulate the financial industry. Finish the education bill. Pick up immigration reform. Repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'"