• Nearly all polls indicate more enthusiasm to vote among Republicans than Dems
  • A shift from September when Democrats were unprecedently excited for 2020
  • Enthusiasm is a key determinant in getting political bases out to vote in elections

Despite the energy injected into the American left by Donald Trump’s election, manifested in movements like the #Resistance and a marked increase in viewership for liberal cable news outlet MSNBC, polls indicate that Republicans are generally more energized to vote in the upcoming 2020 presidential election than Democrats.

A new HuffPost/YouGov survey indicates that 71% of Republican voters are “very enthusiastic about voting,” compared to just 57% of Democratic voters. When asked if voters are “very likely to vote,” 90% of Republicans say so versus 82% of Democratic voters. Republicans have consistently maintained their advantage on this front in each HuffPost/YouGov survey since last fall.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll from late March found a massive gap in enthusiasm between Trump and Biden voters. In the 20 years of ABC/Post polls, no Democratic candidate has had less enthusiasm measured for his candidacy than Joe Biden has. Just 24% of Biden supporters are “very” enthusiastic for his candidacy, while over double, 53%, of Trump supporters say they are very enthusiastic.

Hillary Clinton, seen here in a 2016 file photo with Joe Biden, endorsed the former vice president's White House bid
Hillary Clinton, seen here in a 2016 file photo with Joe Biden, endorsed the former vice president's White House bid AFP / Brendan Smialowski

While the lack of enthusiasm for Biden’s candidacy is the lowest this poll has ever measured for a Democratic candidate, the last two Republicans to lose a presidential contest measured lower, as just 17% of Republicans were enthusiastic for John McCain’s 2008 presidency and 23% for Mitt Romney in 2012.

Enthusiasm for the 2020 presidential election has been depressed across the board by the coronavirus pandemic. In HuffPost/YouGov polling, registered voters who previously said they are “definitely planning to vote,” “very motivated to vote,” “very enthusiastic about voting” and “following election news very closely” have all fallen from their pre-pandemic highs.

It is possible that all this polling indicating decreased Democratic enthusiasm is a short-term trend, as Gallup polling from October 2019 reveals a dramatic increase in excitement to vote. A CNN poll conducted by SSRS in September 2019 revealed unprecedented enthusiasm for the 2020 election amongst both Democrats and Republicans. Almost half (45%) of registered voters responded that they were extremely enthusiastic to vote in 2020, much higher than the 31% CNN measured in September of 2015, 28% in October of 2011, 26% in June 2007, and 19% who said they were enthusiastic about the following year’s presidential election in 2003.