President Obama is moving to energize the Democratic base for his re-election campaign, but in the case of a dozen battleground states, he'll have to work harder than four years ago to find it.And here's an interesting tidbit:
Since the heady days of 2008, a new USA TODAY/Gallup Swing States Poll finds the number of voters who identify themselves as Democratic or Democratic-leaning in these key states has eroded, down by 4 percentage points, while the ranks of Republicans have climbed by 5 points.
Republican voters also are more attentive to the campaign, more enthusiastic about the election and more convinced that the outcome matters.
The contrasting conditions of the nation's two major political parties — discouraged Democrats and resurgent Republicans — underscore how different Obama's re-election campaign is from the contest four years ago.
Consider the math: In 2008, when Obama carried the swing states by 8 percentage points, Democrats there swamped Republicans in party identification by 11 points. Now, that partisan edge has tightened to a statistically insignificant 2 points.
And the "enthusiasm gap" that helped fuel a Democratic victory last time has turned into a Republican asset. Sixty-one percent of Republicans say they are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting for president next year, compared with 47% of Democrats.
In the swing states, Obama now trails former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney among registered voters by 5 points, 43% vs. 48%, and former House speaker Newt Gingrich by 3, 45% vs. 48%.An incumbent president in the mid to low 40's at this point in the election is a sign of a future one-termer.
Of course, much can still change. Neither Newt nor Mitt will inspire the Republican base, so those enthusiasm numbers could start to swing the other way. We'll see.