What's Going On With The "Enthusiasm" Gap?
For months, we've heard about the "enthusiasm gap". You know, the idea that Obama supporters are much more engaged in the election than McCain supporters. Conventional wisdom has been that this will translate in Obama supporters turning out in droves on Election Day carrying the Hollywood Knight to victory.
For the Obama campaign, it sure sounds good on paper. The problem though is that this so-called "enthusiasm gap" might not reflect reality as of late September, 2008.
Yesterday, Obama appeared at a very highly hyped rally at the Resch Center in Green Bay. Supporters did not need tickets to get in and large blocks of seats were reserved for union workers. Despite all the turn out the crowd efforts, the building was about a third empty.
In contrast to the 6.000 or 7,000 people who showed up to see Obama, the same building was packed to the rafters the previous Thursday for a McCain-Palin rally. The huge GOP turnout in Green Bay was just a precursor to the 60,000 people who turned out to see Sarah Palin on Sunday.
Obama supporters are quick to note that his Green Bay rally occurred at noon - while the McCain/Palin rally was held in the early evening. Still, when McCain and Palin appeared in Cedarburg a couple of weeks ago (at noon), they drew over 15,000.
It's also true that Obama didn't have Joe Biden with him to help swell the crowd. Just kidding!
As Obama undoubtedly learned after his speech in Berlin, one or two large events does not a campaign make. Still, it is undeniable that Republicans are suddenly extremely energized about their ticket. You can see it in the fundraising numbers and you can see it in the crowds.
As the campaign progresses, I wouldn't be shocked to see a widening "enthusiasm gap". I also wouldn't be necessarily surprised to see that it was the Obama campaign that was on the wrong side of that gap.