The storyline coming out of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. last month was that President Barack Obama -- and former President Bill Clinton -- had roused their party and their base and were more enthusiastic than the Republicans had been at their convention.
But NBC News' Chuck Todd, appearing on "Meet the Press" Sunday, talked about a trend in polling that has perhaps been overlooked a bit.
Republicans have an "across the board" enthusiasm advantage over Democrats in NBC's polls that is the opposite of how the electorate looked four years ago.
Seventy-nine percent of Republican voters are "extremely interested" in the election, compared to 73 percent of Democrats. In 2008, Democrats led in this measurement by 13 points, Todd said.
The GOP advantage spans all the key voting constituencies. In terms of seniors, a strong group for Republican nominee Mitt Romney, 87 percent of voters are enthusiastic, up six points from 2008. Two key groups for Obama, young voters and Latinos, are showing less interest: 52 percent of 18-to-34 year olds are "extremely interested," down 20 points from 2008, and 59 percent of Latinos, down 18 points.
"So even though [Obama's] going to get more Hispanics, if less of them turn out, it's a net zero. And yet, you look at Republican enthusiasm, up, senior enthusiasm, up," Todd said.
"It's a huge problem," he said. "And by the way, all of this, pre-debate."
Here's the full transcript of Todd's remarks:
Well, it's simply an enthusiasm gap. And we're seeing it across the board. Look at here in this first one. 79% of Republicans call themselves extremely interested in this election. On a scale of one to ten, that means they said they're a nine or a ten on interest in the election. 73% of Democrats.
Look at four years ago. It was a 13 point gap in favor of the Democrats. Let me go through some various voting groups. This is an important voting group. Seniors are an important voting group to Mitt Romney now. He leads them by about 10 points in our NBC Wall Street Journal poll. Look at this in engagement in the election. Four years ago was 81%, pretty higher. Even higher this time at 87%. And Romney's doing better among seniors than McCain did.
Let me go to an important voting group for the president, young voters. Look at this engagement level: 52% now they call themselves, voters 18 to 34, call themselves extremely interested in this election. Four years ago it was 72%. That 20 gap. The president wins young voters by huge margins. He's winning them by some 20-plus points. But if you don't have this kind of enthusiasm, they're not going to show up to the polls.
And then let me give you this last one here, because this is, I think, the most important one. And that's Hispanics. The President's winning Hispanics by 50 points. He hit the 70% mark. However, look at this in terms of interest in the election. 59% now, it was 77%. What does that mean? President got 65%, I believe, of Hispanics four years ago.
So even though he's going to get more Hispanics, if less of them turn out, it's a net zero. And yet, you look at Republican enthusiasm, up, senior enthusiasm, up. It's a huge problem. And by the way, all of this, pre-debate.
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